Visitors say parking is too expensive |

Visitors say parking is too expensive

Lauren Glendenning
Vail CO Colorado
CVR Vail parking KA 2-12-11

VAIL, Colorado – As the town of Vail measures the state of parking this winter before deciding what to do next season about its so-called parking problem, visitors who park in Vail have mixed feelings about whether parking in town is actually a problem.

The Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures did fill up Saturday, making it the third day this winter that overflow parking was needed on the South Frontage Road. A big difference this season, however, is that it was noon before cars were parking on the Frontage Road. A busy day last season usually meant the lots were full much earlier.

The departure of hundreds of construction workers means the structures have more available spaces this year. There are also more private parking options open to the public this season such as Solaris and Manor Vail.

Kelli Hernandez, of Denver, said Saturday was the first time in about two years that she paid to park in Vail. She usually parks at the free Donovan Pavilion lot, but there was an event there Saturday so she had to park in the Lionshead structure instead.

“Parking is expensive – it’s already expensive to ski,” she said.

Even though there’s an expense, Hernandez said she never has a problem finding parking in Vail.

The expense for parking is often blamed on the ski resort, when it’s actually the town of Vail that owns and operates the two main public parking structures. Many guests in Vail don’t know the difference, though.

Ryan Lowe, who works part-time at Vail Mountain, didn’t know the structures were run by the town and not the resort.

Lowe, who lives in Morrison, said for a $100-plus lift ticket, parking should be in the neighborhood of about $10.

“Look how hungry people are (for free parking) – they’re parked on the far side of the (Frontage) Road,” Lowe said.

Heather Coulter and Austin Smith, of Denver, drove around for 45 minutes trying to find a free or cheaper parking option than the garages. They were frustrated because they feel like other resorts have more options.

“I feel like every other resort has a free lot somewhere that’s accessible by bus and is doable,” Coulter said.

Smith said the $25 to park in the garages would be easier to swallow if it included the convenience of being right next to the slopes and a much shorter walk.

“It’s ridiculous to pay $25 and still walk a quarter mile,” Smith said.

The problem the town of Vail has faced for years is a lack of land in which to build more parking. There’s only a narrow strip of land that is available for development in the town, and an interstate runs right through the middle of it.

Some community members like Vail Homeowners Association executive director Jim Lamont have said burying the highway through town would solve many land issues, but the proposal is costly and exhaustive and hasn’t received much serious consideration.

Parking spaces are extremely expensive to build, too. Some recent estimates for new parking spaces at Ford Park show a single space can cost in the neighborhood of $50,000 to build.

With prices like that, it’s easy to understand why free parking spaces in Vail are much harder to find.

Luke Parsons, of Denver, said parking prices aren’t terrible, but they could be lower or on par with other resorts that charge $10 or $15.

He thinks there’s never enough room for parking in Vail, though.

“They need to build new lots or expand a little bit more,” Parsons said.

Paul Gordon, a second-home owner in Vail, said one easy way to free up some spaces in the garages would be to police them more. As he put on his ski gear at his car Saturday, he pointed to the row behind him where three large pick-up trucks had taken up two spaces each.

“People like that are the problem,” Gordon said. “(The town of Vail) should come out and tow those cars away. They’re parking in the middle of the line – that would solve probably 50 spaces right there.”

As for having to park on the Frontage Roads when the garages fill up, Gordon said it’s not that big of a deal in terms of safety.

“People slow down, it’s OK,” he said. “There’s not enough parking. Without the Frontage Road, where would people go?”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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