Keystone Resort looks to improve parking as skiers lament wait times
March 8, 2018
KEYSTONE, Colo. – Whether it's free or paid, parking is not an unlimited resource at Keystone Resort, where nailing down an open spot during peak times on the busiest of days can be next to impossible.
In all fairness, parking doesn't present an issue at Keystone most of the time. On weekdays or off-hours on weekends, skiers and riders can get in and out without too much hassle, hitting the lifts as easily as carving down a 3.5-mile beginner run named "Schoolmarm."
Really, the problem generally stems from the early birds grabbing their last runs of the day as the later crowd begins filing in. It's only during peak times on the busy days — usually from about 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the weekends — that parking presents an issue. Throw in a fresh round of snow, and parking problems are almost guaranteed.
When the early traffic starts to head out, pressure comes off parking for the night crowd, with Keystone's last lifts running until 8 p.m.
In February, for example, Keystone's free lots were more than enough to accommodate the weekday traffic, but they filled up quick four out of four Saturdays, while the paid lots hit their limits three out of four Saturdays. January was similar with at least five days that month that Keystone's parking lots reached capacity, including on three out of four Saturdays and on pair of Sundays.
Seeing the problem, Keystone is one of the few ski resorts with a Twitter feed solely dedicated to parking (@KeystoneParking). Furthermore, resort officials have been rather aggressive about updating the account, letting people know when lots close as it happens, or alerting people once they have reopened, by posting up to a half-dozen Tweets or more on a heavy day.
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Its greatest value is keeping people ahead of the jam, but the Twitter account also offers insight on parking specials, such as free days at the paid lots for those who carpool or giving carloads with families good spots up front.
On days when all lots are entirely full, Keystone has drawn some fire through the feed. "Paid $124 for lift tickets today and you don't have parking," one man tweeted back at Keystone Parking's after one of its "all lots are full" updates in February.
"So glad we got season passes… they are really paying off," another woman added sarcastically. "So we just drive four hours back home then?" she asked in follow-up tweet, not getting a response.
But many others appreciate the info.
"Please ignore complainers," replied one man, who thanked Keystone "for the useful updates."
When the lots fill up, there are few options at the resort. Drivers are allowed to circle the area in search of an available spot, but Keystone employees try not to let anyone stop and wait by the free lots.
At the paid lots, lines form as the gates allow one car in for every one out, often leading the drivers there to waits of 45 minutes or more.
"Public transportation is also a great option, especially for local skiers and riders," said Russell Carlton, a resort spokesman.
In fact, when all of the lots are full, the Summit Stage bus route offers one of only remaining ways to get to the resort.
"We also strongly encourage carpooling and offer dedicated up-front parking in the Montezuma Lot for guests traveling with families or four or more passengers per vehicle," Carlton added.
In addition to the Twitter account, Keystone also has a page on its website dedicated to parking with a list of the average times its lots fill up on the weekends and the best, most sought powder days.
Carlton said the resort annually re-evaluates all of its operations to ensure they can provide "the greatest overall guest experience."
Given the high volumes of traffic and revenue paid parking could generate, some believe that ski resorts will soon do away with free parking altogether. Despite the crunch at peak times, however, Keystone will continue offering free parking for the 2018-19 season, the spokesman said.