Map: Here’s the land Utah will need to build the massive ski gondola

Utah needs to make land deals with the U.S. Forest Service and the LDS Church to build the Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola to Snowbird and Alta.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fall color in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022.

The state of Utah will need to make multiple land deals to build a proposed gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon. If built, the state-funded gondola would carry skiers to up the 8-mile canyon to Snowbird and Alta ski resorts.

Much of the land where the towers would go is owned by the federal government and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, while Utah’s most prolific religious institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, owns property at the mouth of the canyon where a tower would be built.

The church declined to comment on whether or not it would approve a land sale or leasing agreement with the state. The church-owned property is near the secretive Granite Mountain Records Vault.

[LDS Church’s Granite Mountain vault is in proposed path of Little Cottonwood Canyon gondola]

When UDOT released its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) in August, the department said it believed a gondola would be the best solution to alleviate canyon congestion during the ski season.

The UDOT plans call for building 22 towers and two angle stations, as the latter turns the direction of gondola cars. The plans also call for three loading stations, one at the mouth of the 8-mile long canyon, and stations at Snowbird and Alta ski resorts.

Here’s where the towers, angle and loading stations would be located in the canyon, according to the draft EIS:

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

The project, which the state estimates will cost taxpayers around $500 million, is still in the early phases. State lawmakers must first allocate money to UDOT before land agreements can be made. After that happens, construction could begin.

After its August decision, UDOT opened a 45-day public comment period that ran from Sept. 2 to Oct. 17. The comments, which were in the thousands, were made public on Nov. 7.

UDOT is slated to submit a final record of decision sometime this winter, which will finalize their recommendation on how to best address transportation issues in the canyon.