Curbing Stowe ski resort’s traffic jams

Published: Feb. 5, 2022 at 8:08 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 5, 2022 at 8:17 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s a powder weekend in Vermont, and skiers and riders are rejoicing. Resorts and highways have been packed throughout the state with people coming from near and far to take advantage of all the Green Mountains have to offer. Channel 3′s Melissa Cooney takes us to Stowe, one resort of many drawing large crowds and dealing with traffic jams.

On a beautiful, rare powder Saturday in Vermont, cars are backed up five to six miles away from the base of Stowe Mountain Resort. But the people waiting in line for over an hour say the powder makes it worth it.

“We’re here on an ideal weekend. We had 10 or 12 inches of snow. Everyone comes out of the woodwork to ski them,” said Bill DeMaso, who’s visiting from Virginia.

Stowe police say Friday’s jam lasted for a couple hours, even with the congested traffic flowing at a steady pace. For many, this is the moment they’ve been waiting for.

“It was a lean start to the winter, the second leanest start in terms of natural snow we’ve had in 15 years. I think there’s a lot of pent up powder fever this year,” said Adam White of Vail Resorts.

Vail Resorts purchased Stowe Mountain Resort in 2017 and switched to only selling season passes through the company Epic. The Epic Pass allows you access up to 34 mountains across North America at a set rate.

“Ten,12 years ago a season pass at Stowe was upward of $2,000 to $1,800, maybe even more. If you bought an Epic Pass early bird this year, it was between $700 and $800,” White said.

White says Epic Pass sales are up 76% this ski season compared to last season. That’s 900,000 more passes sold nationwide. The cheaper price makes skiing at Stowe and other mountains more accessible, giving folks the option to drop in as they please.

“Before Epic, I could get up at 9 a.m. on a Saturday and get up here and find a place to park. Now I have to leave my house by 7 a.m.” Heather Anderson, who has lived in the town of Stowe for 21 years, says she sometimes misses the small crowds but says she’s enjoyed watching the mountain grow in popularity since the introduction of the Epic Pass.

“It’s wonderful to see the mountain so full and vibrant and knowing the town is full and vibrant,” Anderson said.

Stowe Town Manager Charles Safford adds, that speaks to the vitality of the town but can be a double-edged sword when visitors use the mountain and leave without participating in the town’s businesses. He says seeing a huge traffic jam on the only artery of the mountain has become increasingly common in recent years.

“I think VTrans is starting to recognize the need to put in signals and roundabouts and allow people to get in and out better as things increase, but at the same time, I don’t know if Stowe wants to pave itself over or if the topography lends itself to a massive road system,” Safford said.

Meanwhile, Stowe Mountain Resort is appealing a December ruling in which the town’s Development Review Board denied a plan for a 286-spot parking lot to alleviate parking stress. So, the town and the resort are encouraging visitors to consider public transportation and resort shuttles.

“We’ve all got to kind of work together when it comes to this stuff. We’ve got to arrive early, we’ve got to carpool,” White said.

And some skiers say the destination is what makes the journey worth it. “It’s part of the deal. It’s a weekend, it’s a beautiful day out.”

Copyright 2022 WCAX. All rights reserved.