Utah Stories

Gondola up Little Cottonwood Canyon Proposal: Short-sighted, waste-of-money, elitist visions of grandeur should remain in the clouds

Utah elite is in favor of the proposed Gondola up the Little Cottonwood Canyon even though this project would devastate the environment of the canyon.


It appears that the $1-$2 billion dollar gondola-up-the-canyon proposal is currying favor with more elites. Snowbird has purchased the land where the base station and parking lot of the proposed gondola would be located.

Snowbird currently charges $130 for a day pass and for an extra $60 elites can get a special exemption from waiting in lines. Snowbird is probably the best ski resort in the world, but they just aren’t making enough money. They are starving in fact, why else would be in support of an idea this dumb?

The future parking lot at the bottom of the Little Cottonwood Canyon for the proposed Gondola.

Under the current proposal, Snowbird could charge an additional $25 for patrons to park their vehicles at the gondola base station and another $25 per person to ride to the gondola up the canyon, on top of their $130 lift fee. Under this proposal, if a family of four wanted to enjoy a day of skiing at Snowbird, your total parking/gondola/skiing fee would be around $600, with lunch around $700. Of course, your family could save so much money if you were to buy the Alta-Bird Family Four pack for $3,990. But the point is, that skiing is by-in-large becoming out of reach for most Utahns. The proposed gondola would only exacerbate the situation and destroy the environment under the gondola as a bonus.

Gondola proponents are deep-pocketed and they are running a very nice PR campaign to further their efforts. CW Management owned by Chris McCandless, Wayne Niederhauser, and Kevin Gates. They are spending tens of thousands showing videos of what it would be like to be whisked away on a gondola at the base of the canyon rather than wait in your car in traffic.

Rendering of proposed Gondola up the Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Without a doubt, the experience of a gondola is far superior to puttering up the canyon in a personal vehicle. But they spend no time addressing the environmental impact of 20-30 150-foot tall massive poles from which the wire-rope cables would need to be suspended to carry the gondolas. These 30 poles would require large roads for servicing; yards of concrete to secure into place, and they would decimate the ecology of the Little Cottonwood Canyon River and watershed area habitat for wildlife and backcountry hikers.

Of course, if you are riding the gondola up the canyon you would never have to personally witness this environmental devastation caused by the poles, so as long as the elites don’t need to see this then apparently it’s just fine. Fine with them, but not fine with people who actually love the canyons.

Carl Fisher the Executive Director of Save our Canyons, is doing everything to oppose this plan, now apparently endorsed by UTA, the Utah State Legislature, and all of the Good ‘Ol Boys who don’t give a shit about Utah’s environment but only want to find new ways to produce massive amounts of money. But a $1-$2 billion investment by Utah taxpayers to destroy the Little Cottonwood Canyon ecology to benefit the elites is rubbing Fisher and other like-minded folks the wrong way.

“There are people who can’t even ride transit to get to work, but we want to accommodate the fun hogs in a better way to get up the canyon. They are going to have better transit than families in Utah” said Fisher on the Utah Stories podcast. He added, “It’s only better if you can afford to pay a couple of thousand dollars per year to get you and your family up to enjoy resort skiing.”

Taking the big-picture view, Fisher is questioning why the Utah State Legislature doesn’t invest in better transit options for $2 billion, that could benefit far more Utahns, and help clean our air rather than investing that money into a gondola that would only benefit the elites and tourists.

A much better idea would be a fleet of electric busses accessible from a new Trax transit station at the mouth of the canyon, and greater accessibility of Trax stations, perhaps a Fort Union Trax line. This would cost about a billion less and it would make skiing more accessible not less for average Utahns. Also, this would require no widening of the Cottonwood Canyon Road and no further environmental degradation.


Ticket to Ride: “Political Pressure” Comes to Bear on Little Cottonwood Canyon Transportation Plans

Utahns’ Love Affair with Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon is under threat by Utah’s population boom

100-Year-Old Wasatch Mountain Lodge Hidden in Dense Forest of Big Cottonwood Canyon

Most Utahns in Favor of Billboard Ban




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