Mount Hood Meadows trying to lessen parking woes

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

Published:

 

Mount Hood Meadows plans a variety of changes this coming season to reduce or eliminate the number of days the parking lots at the popular ski area reach capacity.

According to Dave Tragethon, executive director of communications, Mount Hood Meadows wants to add another parking lot, a proposal under review by the Forest Service.

But in the interim, the ski area plans to create peak-day pricing, promote ride sharing, subsidize transportation programs to the mountain and increase employee shuttle bus routes.

“Nearly all of the days Meadows reached parking capacity coincided with storms delivering substantial snow and powder conditions on a major holiday weekend or when the weather conditions on one of the weekend days was far superior to the other,’’ Tragethon said.

Meadows gets 470,000 to 480,000 skiers in a typical season.

Other Mount Hood ski areas and other Northwest resorts also exceeded parking capacity on those days, he added.

The days most likely to overfill the parking will be Dec. 26-31 plus Saturdays and Sundays in January and February.

So, on those days, Mount Hood Meadows will use a peak-day pricing plan.

An all-day chairlift price this season will be $74. But on the peak days, the price will be $89.

“The additional cost of a peak day should serve as an incentive to drive peak-day traffic to off-peak time frames,’’ Tragethon said. “Meadows also is making less pre-purchased tickets available on peak days.’’

Other changes include:

Bus prices — The price of shuttle rides to Meadows will be reduced from $30 round trip down to $20.

The resort will increase the number of park-and-ride shuttles on peak days from one to four. The $20 transportation price will be offered to all guests purchasing multi-day ski and snowboard programs.

The move is expected to increase bus ridership by 25 percent and provide an additional 300 seats on peak days.

That would remove more than 100 vehicles traveling to the resort those days.

Rescheduled race events — Another 100 vehicles on peak days can be reduced by scheduling competitive and race events to off-peak days or different times on peak days.

Employee transportation — Meadows will increase the number of employee shuttle bus routes and offer more flexible schedules and pick-up points.

The target is to reduce an extra 150 vehicles per peak day off Highway 35.

Information sharing — Mount Hood Meadows will provide parking updates on its website conditions page, snow reports and Twitter tweets, anticipating days when parking may be an issue and recommend arrival times to avoid full lots.

Tragethon said the additional lot, called Twilight, is proposed near the junction of state Highway 35 and the access road to Hood River Meadows.