Perhaps there's a lot of pent up powder desire out there and this is just a temporary surge, but I doubt it. Population projections for Utah show another million people will be here by 2035, possibly earlier depending on the estimate. This is due to both internal growth (i.e., birth rate) and in migration, with those in the latter category frequently coming and staying here for the remarkable quality of life and access to recreation that we have here in Utah.
|With some hard work, you can find skiing like this less than 3 miles from the edge of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.|
Ignoring potential rail solutions, which are likely to be costly and take many decades to implement if they ever see the light of day, we need to look at ways to get more people up the canyon highways more efficiently. This could include improvements in current bus service, which often works well on days when it's not very busy (although bus routes midday are often lacking), but can be a disaster on busy days due to limited parking near the canyon mouths, overcrowding, difficulties even getting on late day buses if you aren't at the first stop, etc.
Another option that might be implemented quickly and at low cost is slugging. Slugging is a car sharing option used in the Washington D.C. area in which drivers pick up passengers at designated locations with similar destinations in order to travel in HOV lanes. I've always though such an approach has some potential in the Cottonwoods. A number of pick-up-areas could be designated on major routes to the canyons, possibly even at some bus stops, and drivers would pull in, announce where they are going (e.g., Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, or Brighton), and people with those destinations would hop in for the ride. Basically this is hitchhiking with some organization. Uber is providing a paid car-service already, but the idea with slugging is that it would be free.
For slugging to be successful, carpooling would need to be incentivized, either through some sort of HOV access to the canyon mouths (perhaps doable to Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood might be more difficult unless something more draconian were implemented like SR-210 being HOV or local traffic only from 7-10 am), better or cheaper parking at the resorts, etc (it's hard to imagine that paid parking isn't going to become more common at the resorts). The issue of return back to the Salt Lake Valley is another potentially problematic area since people would need to slug back to the Salt Lake Valley and typically this would not be with the person who drove them up the canyon.
There's no silver bullet, but change is needed, or gridlock will only worsen in Wasageles.