Beav’ aims to ease parking, lift crowds for next season
Construction is underway on the 450-space Wolf parking lot above Beaver Creek’s Bear Cave lot -formerly the West Day lot. The new parking lot and the two high-speed quad chairlifts – slated to be finished by mid-December – are part of the Beaver Creek Landing project. The intent is to open a new entry point for intermediate and advanced skiers hoping to bypass the long lift lines at Beaver Creek’s main Centennial Express lift. The first lift will carry skiers and snowboarders from the landing – east of the Tarnes apartment complex, about a five-minute walk from the Wolf lot – to a point in Bachelor Gulch, near The Ritz-Carlton. A second lift will then run up to the top of Strawberry Park. “(The new parking lot) will correct a lot of traffic and parking problems we have been experiencing,” said Avon town Manager Larry Brooks. “It will be a lot safer and nicer. I’m real glad to see them expanding the parking capacity because the popularity of the ski area is exploding.” The number of days logged by skiers and snowboarders at Beaver Creek jumped by 6 percent to 769,000 this year. But the crowds force some people to park along U.S. Highway 6, Prater Road and the confluence lot during busy weekends, holidays and special events on the mountain.The new parking spaces will add to an existing 1,400 free spot in the Bear Cave and Elk Meadow lots -formerly West and East lots- and about 330 paid spaces in Village Hall and Villa Montane parking garages in Beaver Creek Village.
John Garnsey, chief operating officer for Beaver Creek Mountain, said the lot and lifts are designed to improve skier and snowboarder circulation on the mountain, while providing a convenient way to get on the slopes. “It will take approximately 17 minutes to get from the landing to Strawberry Park,” Garnsey said. “And it will only be a two-minute shuttle ride from the Wolf lot to the landing. People can also walk five minutes on a sidewalk to the landing – and can ski back to the bottom.”Beaver Creek Landing will have a ticket office, a shuttle turn-around area and skier drop-off area.Construction of the $9 million high-speed chairlifts is also running on schedule, said Christina Schleicher, spokeswoman for Beaver Creek Mountain.
The Lower Beaver Creek Mountain Express will take skiers up to Bachelor Gulch. From there, skiers will load the second new chairlift, the Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express, and connect to the Strawberry Park terrain on the west side of the resort. Each chairlift, which will be ready to use by mid-December, will carry up to 2,400 skiers per hour, Schleicher said.”The foundation has been poured. The next step is to pour the concrete for the lift towers and then a helicopter will install the towers,” Schleicher said.
The Wolf lot fits into Beaver Creek’s new village transportation plan that will be unveiled later this year, Schleicher said. “Once the parking lot is finished, we will have shuttles running from all parking lots to Beaver Creek Landing and Beaver Creek Village,” she said. Avon buses will continue to travel to Beaver Creek Village.Schleicher said people parking at the lot most likely will ride the shuttle bus to Beaver Creek Landing and ride the Lower Beaver Creek Mountain Express. Beginner skiers and those taking ski school lessons would head up to Beaver Creek Village. “This will help our parking situation and it’s a great amenity for our guests,” Schleicher said. The Beaver Creek Landing project replaced plans for a gondola that would have connected Avon to the top of Beaver Creek Mountain. Though Avon was opposed to paying $6 million for the original gondola project, which would have cost $30 million to $40 million, Beaver Creek Mountain officials are still considering building a lift from a piece of land it owns known as the confluence site, which is alongside the Eagle River in Avon across the water from resort’s east parking lot.”There’s still the possibility that there will be some type of lift system, possibly a gondola, that will connect the confluence site in Avon to the Beaver Creek landing site,” Garnsey said.Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at email@example.com.