Colorado State Patrol tows 25 of about 100 illegally parked vehicles on Loveland Pass amid April 1 festivities

April 1 is a "historically busy day" at Arapahoe Basin, according to a spokesperson for the ski area, and several inches of fresh snow and bluebird skies Saturday added to the number of visitors.

Jason Connolly/Summit Daily News archive
A "No Parking" sign is pictured on Loveland Pass. Colorado State Patrol towed 25 of about 100 illegally parked vehicles on U.S. Highway 6 near Loveland Pass on Saturday, April 1, 2023.
Jason Connolly/Summit Daily News archive

Colorado State Patrol towed 25 vehicles parked illegally on Loveland Pass on Saturday, April 1, as fresh snow, bluebird skies and April Fools’ Day — or Gaper Day — festivities combined to bring a large number of visitors to Summit County.

Trooper Gabriel Moltrer, a spokesperson for State Patrol, said the towed vehicles were among about 100 vehicles that had been illegally parked on the road over the pass along U.S. Highway 6 on Saturday. 

“The ski resort started to get too packed and people started parking on the highway, which does create a serious safety issue,” Moltrer said. “We want people to go and enjoy themselves at places like that ski resort, but parking on the highway like that is unsafe.”

Some of the vehicles had parked in traffic lanes and avalanche slide areas with posted no parking signs, according to Colorado Department of Transportation spokesperson Presley Fowler. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area called Colorado State Patrol to help with traffic control that day, Fowler said.

Moltrer said vehicles parked in or alongside the roadway where they are not supposed to be can catch drivers off guard and lead to crashes that could injure or kill someone. Moreover, he said, parking below an avalanche slide could result in significant vehicle damage in the event of an avalanche.

Arapahoe Basin anticipated a busy Saturday, according to spokesperson Katherine Fuller, who said the ski area greatly reduced the number of lift tickets available that day. Day passes sold out several days in advance, according to Fuller.

“Not only is April 1 a historically busy day,” Fuller said in an email. “But we know people like to show up when a bluebird powder day meets a spring Saturday.”

The ski area coordinated with Summit Stage to get extra buses running to and from Arapahoe Basin that day, Fuller said. Ahead of Saturday, Arapahoe Basin also sent out information to guests in an email Thursday and on social media on Friday about what to expect, including a reminder to carpool and not to park on the highway, she said.

When the parking lots reached capacity Saturday, Arapahoe Basin again posted to social media to notify people the lots were full, not to park on the highway and to consider riding the Summit Stage from other parking areas, Fuller said.

“Parking is, and always has been, our pinch point,” she said.

There are options to access Arapahoe Basin without driving. Riders in Summit County can get on the free Summit Stage buses, including the Swan Mountain Flyer, which makes hourly trips from Breckenridge to Arapahoe Basin and back during peak season.

Coming from Denver, visitors can ride the Snowstang bus to Arapahoe Basin for $25 round trip, with a scheduled arrival time of 8:30 a.m., according to the ski area’s website. Snowstang buses run throughout the winter, including on holidays, and passengers can board at Denver Union Station or the Denver Federal Center.

Visitors can also use the TreadShare carpooling app that links drivers with passengers so they can share rides and the cost of a drive, according to the Arapahoe Basin website. Fuller said the ski area promotes all of these as more-sustainable and less-stressful alternatives to getting to Arapahoe Basin.

Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said the towing along Loveland Pass on Saturday should serve as a reminder to those who plan to visit this spring and summer that parking along county roads is also illegal.

“Obviously, you can just look around the county and see how busy it was. It’s been an extremely busy spring break,” FitzSimons said. “It is indicative of what happens when we become over capacitated on any given day.”

As the county has become busier in recent years, FitzSimons said the Sheriff’s Office has had to constantly combat parking issues, especially near popular trail heads such as Quandary, Spruce Creek and Ptarmigan Trail.

People who park their cars illegally can impede emergency responses, FitzSimons noted, adding that there is a $100 fine for parking on county roads and any costs of towing will fall to the vehicle owner.

“If you break a leg and you’re screaming in pain on a trail and you wish search and rescue would get to you quickly but you’ve blocked the road with your car” FitzSimons said. “That’s where it becomes a public safety issue.”

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