Canyon Travel Tips from UDOT
If your visit to Salt Lake includes making it up to the resorts in the Cottonwood Canyons this winter, we have some tips from the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) for how to get to the slopes safer and more prepared so you can enjoy these beautiful mountains!
#1 - Know the Forecast
Check the weather forecast - and sign up for Ski Utah’s powder alerts.
Before heading up the canyons, check @udotcottonwoods Instagram stories for road weather forecasts and road conditions or their website for traffic cameras—have your passengers check for updates while you’re en route.
If road conditions look bad, consider delaying your travels until after UDOT canyon crews have had a chance to clear the snow for a smoother, safer ride.
#2 - Ride the UTA Ski Bus, the Cottonwood Connect Shuttle, or Carpool
Help reduce the vehicle traffic in the canyons by carpooling, reserving a ride on the Cottonwood Connect Shuttle, or riding the Ride UTA ski bus. Ride UTA ski bus service will be available through April 13th and is free with your season passes.
#3 - If You’re Driving Up, Drive a Winter-Ready Vehicle
The best vehicles to drive in the winter conditions are four-wheel- drive (4WD) and all-wheel- drive (AWD) vehicles with 3PMSF or M+S tires with a tread depth of 5/32 minimum. Tread depth is essential for tires to grip the road as you drive and the less tread depth a tire has, the more likely it is for you to lose control of your vehicle. Traction devices such as chains are also an option for extra reinforcement.
Learn more about Utah’s Traction Law here.
If you’re visiting from out of state and renting a vehicle out of the SLC airport, check UDOT Cottonwoods for a list of rental car companies that have pre-inspected their vehicles’ tires and approved them for winter driving conditions!
**It’s important to remember that snow tires and AWD capabilities do not make you indestructible!
While they definitely help in snowy and icy road conditions, you need to drive according to conditions.
#4 - Prepare Your Vehicle
Remove snow off of your vehicle's hood, trunk, and roof. Driving with snow on your vehicle is a public safety hazard and can cause visibility issues for yourself and other drivers - don’t forget to wipe off your backup camera.
Make sure you have emergency supplies such as a snow shovel, ice scraper/snow brush, and extra winter clothes. Keep your gas tank at least half full for any unexpected detours, road closures, and emergencies.
Check the UDOT Cottonwoods website for road closure alerts.
#5 - Avoid Traveling During Peak Hours
To avoid sitting in traffic for prolonged periods of time consider scheduling your travels outside of peak hours, which are 7 am - 9 am and 3 pm - 5 pm on the weekends and powder days.
It’s also good practice to check resort parking cameras ahead of time to ensure there is sufficient parking—or make a parking reservation in advance if the resort you are visiting requires it on the day you're visiting. You can find all the Cottonwood Canyons resort parking requirements here.
#6 - Drive According to Road Conditions
Accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid losing traction and skidding.
Reduce your speed. Travel as fast/slow as conditions warrant. Sometimes, traveling the speed limit is too fast.
Increase your following distance. Driving in snowy conditions can be unpredictable so it’s wise to give yourself extra cushion space to react more accordingly.
#7 - Park Well
It can be tempting to park your car as quickly as possible to get to the slopes, but parking in the proper permitted areas helps ensure that our canyons road crew can do their jobs safely and effectively. Take an extra moment to make sure you're parking behind the white line and avoiding parking in no parking areas.
Salt Lake County has increased traffic violation penalties for parking in a no parking area or parking over the white line (and in the road). Violations will now result in a civil penalty (making tickets less likely to be dismissed) and fines will range from $75 to $150.
However you decide to get up the canyons to the slopes, make sure to prepare in advance to keep yourself and others safe, and to minimize your wait to get there.
Quick List of Links to Help You Get Up the Canyon:
Weather Forecasts & Road Conditions
- Ski Utah's Powder Alerts
- UDOT Cottonwood's Instagram for Road Weather Forecasts and Road Conditions
- UDOT Website Traffic Cameras