Park City crowds head to closed snow, drawing police attention
Tracks in the trees. Skiers moving their way to another run. Parking issues. The police at the scene.
It would almost be a typical weekend during the ski season in Park City, but Saturday was not normal on the upper reaches of Marsac Avenue, as the road winds through Empire Pass.
With Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort closed in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, people have continued to seek wintertime fun in the mountains. There have been people spotted on the Deer Valley and PCMR slopes during the closures, and there were enough Parkites last weekend wanting to be on the snow to draw the attention of the Park City Police Department.
In the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, cars lined a stretch of Marsac Avenue close to Deer Valley Resort’s Empire Canyon Lodge and Montage Deer Valley. There were people on resort terrain and on a track normally more frequently used by snowmobilers. Some, it seemed, were using skins on their skis to move uphill while others appeared to be cross-country skiing. Others were walking through the snow. There were numerous tracks in the snow on high-elevation Deer Valley terrain, signaling some made it toward the top of the resort.
Phil Kirk, a police captain, was at the scene on Saturday, saying the agency wanted “to maintain control over the parking area there.” The police need to ensure there is access for emergency vehicles and people with residences nearby, Kirk said.
The Police Department operated shifts at the location from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday just south of the Empire Canyon Lodge and at the location of an annual wintertime closure of S.R. 224.
People have headed to the slopes at Deer Valley and PCMR since they closed with plentiful snow remaining. There have been skiers, snowboarders, people on sleds and others seen on the slopes since the closures as people seek outside recreation options.
Both of the resorts, though, recently indicated heading onto the slopes is prohibited as a result of the closures. The resorts have long said that the slopes can be dangerous when they are closed.
In one episode, on Wednesday, March 18, the police were called to PCMR at 12:35 p.m., when security staffers at the resort were reportedly overran “by people wanting to ski & they are unable to handle the influx of people,” according to public police logs.
Kirk said the Police Department was outside the Empire Canyon Lodge again on Monday and plans to continue to have a presence at various points during the workweek and again over the weekend. If they inquire, Kirk said, the police inform people it is considered to be trespassing to be on the slopes when they are closed. He said the Police Department, though, is not enforcing the trespassing laws unless the resorts request enforcement.
There have also been numerous people on the area’s trail system since the closure of the resorts. An advocate has said the trails in Round Valley have been popular in recent weeks.
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Welcome to The Park Record’s 2020 edition of Mile Post, our annual report on key indicators in our changing community.