No parking at Gondola in January

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Access to the Steamboat Ski Area will be a little trickier than usual during January.

On Friday, a 14,000-square-foot "festival tent" is scheduled to arrive in the parking lot at the base of the gondola. For most of January, while the tent is in place, short-term drop-offs will be restricted, and there will be no parking in the lot closest to the base area.

From Friday through Jan. 5, the gondola parking lot will be closed to all vehicle traffic, including private cars and resort property shuttles. From Jan. 6 to Jan. 26, the lot will be restricted to short-term drop-offs.

Ski area staff will be stationed at the lot to direct and educate people once the closure begins.

"That little lot down there gets a lot of use," said Cathy Wiedemer, spokeswoman for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Closing it "is a huge impact."

In January, the temporary tent in the gondola lot will host a string of concerts, including the Steamboat MusicFest, Keller Williams, Government Mule, Chris LeDoux and the Hardrock Winter Cafe. Similar tented events were held there in January 2003. In the meantime, most traffic is being redirected to the ski area's new and improved gondola transit center.

Shuttles operated by lodging properties are being directed to use the Gondola Transit Center along Mount Werner Circle for all drop-offs and pick-ups.

The recently renovated transit center should be easier for visitors and residents to navigate, Wiedemer said. The lanes are wider, there is new lighting, and new signage directs riders and drivers to where they need to be. Signs will direct passengers where to wait for city buses, lodging shuttles and the ski area's parking lot shuttles.

Wiedemer said there is a designated public passenger drop-off lane at the new transportation center where people can be dropped off during the gondola lot restrictions.

"They have expanded, enhanced and made the transit center more user-friendly," Wiedemer said.

Participants in the ski school's Mini-buster and Trailbuster programs should make drop-offs in the Meadows parking lot and use the ski area's shuttle service to access the slopes. The ski area's shuttle service runs continuously from 7:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily.

"We're trying to accommodate everyone," Wiedemer said.

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