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How is Little Cottonwood Canyon used? Plus: ermines!

In the heat of summer in Little Cottonwood Canyon it can be nearly impossible to imagine wintertime. The draft EIS put forth by UDOT outlining possible solutions to combat the congestion in Little Cottonwood Canyon has Friends of Alta reflecting on the different ways this canyon is utilized during each season of the year. One key feature of the gondola proposed as a possible solution in UDOT’s draft EIS is that it will only stop at Snowbird and Alta. While this is ideal for skiers and snowboarders during the wintertime, it is important to remember that there are many different types of recreators that make use of Little Cottonwood Canyon. On any given day in the summer, you will find hikers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, campers, and bird watchers parked all along the canyon. The proposed gondola would not aid in removing any of these cars from the canyon road because the gondola would not stop at any of these trailheads on its journey up the canyon. The gondola also would not help the wintertime recreators who choose to play outside of ski resort boundaries. An enhanced busing alternative, which is another option proposed in UDOT’s Draft EIS, is much more practical for recreators of all seasons. The bus would be able to stop at trailheads along the way allowing increased access to Little Cottonwood Canyon for all of the different types of recreation that people enjoy. This flexibility afforded by the bus would continue to support the awesome variety of activities that can be found in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

As many of you know, UDOT’s Draft EIS is currently in the public comment stage. We need everyone to make their voices heard during this critical stage of the process. We encourage you to do your own research regarding the pros and cons of each proposed alternative. Above is a link to UDOT’s official EIS website. You can find more information there as well as a place to write your comments.

For a well written summary of the proposed alternatives check out this article published by Deseret News . Lastly, we want to hear from you! If you have any questions, comments or concerns please share them with us via email ( or DM us on Instagram (@friendsofalta).


Wildlife fun fact: Today we are looking at ermines! Ermines are small critters in the weasel family that Friends of Alta has taken on as an unofficial mascot. They are ferocious predators that can take down mice, frogs and even rabbits but they are very cute to look at – from a distance! Ermines are best known for their stark white coat that has made them very valuable to trappers, but people might not know that they are only white in the winter. Masters of camouflage, ermines turn completely brown in the warmer months to blend in with their woody surroundings. When the days start getting shorter in the fall, this triggers a hormone reaction that reduces the pigment in the ermine’s fur. So, the change in hours of daylight as the seasons transition is what cues the ermine to change color. Very neat!

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