Well, it finally happened, the largest ski resorts in Lake Tahoe are now charging for parking. The resorts are marketing this as a way to alleviate traffic in and around the Lake Tahoe area. If you have ever been stuck in the morning traffic trying to get to a Tahoe ski resort, then you understand that the area does have a major problem. However, this does feel like a corporate cash grab and there are a number of flaws with the plan. Each resort has it's own policies and pricing, but below is a quick recap of what to expect when parking at Kirkwood, Northstar, Palisades, or Heavenly.
- Parking reservations required for all weekends, holidays, and peak periods
- Free parking mid-week non-peak, no reservation required
- Free parking if you carpool with 4 or more people with reservation
- $20-$35 per parking spot on weekends and peak season periods
- You will be required to set up an online account and "reserve" a spot
Although we understand the need to alleviate traffic, this plan appears to have quite a few issues. First of all, the carpool idea favors families over the individual skier/rider. If you have a family of 4 or more, you never have to pay for parking. If you are just some dude (or gal) with a season pass then you have to pay for your spot every weekend, unless you can round up 3 friends who are on the exact same schedule. Another problem is the fact they are charging for parking in the first place. These resorts are raking in the cash with $300 lift tickets, $25 burgers, and $15 beers; now they want an extra $20 before you even get to the slopes. And what about Pow Days or extreme weather? People come out of the woodwork on powder days and ski resorts get super crowded even on a weekday. It is also common for people to bail on a ski day if the weather is not good. There appears to be no plan for weather related impacts on travel or increased demand due to good snow. We can only hope that these plans utterly fail forcing these corporations to go back to the days when the early bird gets the pow.