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Vail-owned California resorts will institute paid parking next season

Heavenly Valley Resort at Lake Tahoe.
Vail Resorts
Heavenly Valley Resort at Lake Tahoe.

After introducing paid parking at its largest American resort this ski season, Vail Resorts will begin implementing similar programs at its northern California resorts.

Road congestion and parking challenges aren’t exclusive to Utah ski resorts. Compounded by one of the snowiest seasons on record in California, Vail Resorts announced it will tackle the parking and traffic problems next season at three Lake Tahoe resorts using a combination of paid parking and reservations with added incentives for carpooling.

In a news release, Vail Resorts said free parking will still be accessible at its Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar resorts on weekends and holidays and peak periods, but only for those who carpool.

The new parking plans vary slightly at each resort and incorporate lessons from the local traffic patterns and current policies of each resort. In addition, they will harness the best practices from other mountain resorts and the ski industry, including Park City Mountain, where paid parking and a parking reservation system was implemented last December.

The company said it has found that carpool incentives reduced the vehicle volumes even with similar resort visitation by encouraging more people per vehicle. At Park City Mountain, the release said, more than 60% of cars using the paid and reservation lots during this season qualified for free parking. Additionally, using parking reservations has been shown to spread out arrival times and reduce congestion as drivers roam for spots.

Paid parking – and parking reservations - will remain in effect at Park City Mountain through April 2. Until then, free parking is available for those with 4 or more people in a vehicle or after 1 p.m. otherwise there is a $25 parking fee.

3/30/23 CLARIFICATION: According to Sara Roston, Director of Communications for Vail Resorts West Region, there will still be plenty of free parking at each resort every day of the week, not just for those who carpool. She says there are two specific lots – one at Heavenly and one at Northstar – that are shifting to reservations-based paid parking on weekends and holidays/peak periods, but only during the morning hours. "There are plenty of free lots/parking areas for guests that don’t require reservations at these resorts, regardless of day of the week," Roston said.