Solitude, Deer Valley ski areas end walk-up ticket sales, won’t require reservations

Solitude Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort have become the latest Utah ski areas to take walk-up tickets off their menus.

Both resorts are owned by the Alterra Mountain Co., which on Monday revealed some of the COVID-19 precautions it would implement across its 15 destinations throughout the United States and Canada. In addition to ending walk-up tickets, Alterra will put caps on daily lift tickets — sold online — and prioritize season-pass holders.

Resorts are also creating more grab-and-go food options and more outdoor seating to encourage social distancing and will be limiting interactions on lifts and gondolas.

“These unprecedented times will continue to challenge us and will require tolerance and effort by all of us to help keep each other healthy and our destinations open for your enjoyment,” Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory said in an open letter Monday.

Deer Valley has long capped the number of skiers it allows daily. Solitude, on the other hand, has been seeing a noticeable influx of visitors since joining the Alterra family prior to the 2018-19 season. Spokesperson Sarah Huey said Solitude will not turn away season-pass holders but will limit sales of online, single-day lift tickets if large crowds are anticipated. In a phone interview with The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday, Gregory said Alterra’s 15 resorts will have capacity restrictions, but he believes they can adhere to those caps by regulating ticket sales.

The protocols apply only to resorts owned by Alterra and not those on its Ikon Pass, one of the two major multi-resort season passes on the market. Brighton, Snowbird and Alta — all of which allow limited days to Ikon Pass holders — are in the process of creating their own COVID-19 regulations.

Vail Resorts announced similar changes two weeks ago, including at Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort. In addition to ending walk-up lift tickets and prioritizing season pass holders, Vail will limit chairlifts to riders who are within the same ski party or to small groups of individuals. Perhaps most ground shaking is its plan to limit capacity by requiring all visitors, even season pass holders, to use an online reservation system to hold their spot on the mountain.

Alterra will not require reservations for its pass holders across the board, Gregory said. Individual resorts can exercise that option, though. Brighton is among those that will require reservations for Ikon Pass holders, while Alta is considering it. Snowbird, Solitude and Deer Valley are not requiring reservations at this time.

“Every resort is different, every company is different. But it worked out that the most effective way for us to regulate was visitation,” Gregory said. “And we went through all sorts of discussions: reservations, parking restrictions, other ways to reduce capacity effectively. And we felt that this was the one that made the most sense and that was the most executable.”

Solitude is slated to open the season Nov. 20, Alta plans to follow Nov. 21 and Deer Valley is scheduled for Dec. 5. Snowbird and Brighton have not announced their opening days.