getting up the canyons IN THE WINTER //

UDOT Traction LAW requirements

What is the “Traction Law” and what are “Traction Devices”?

The term “Traction Law” has replaced “Chain Law” to be inclusive of the many traction devices acceptable under the rule, such as snow tires, chains, snow socks, etc.

In order to get up Big Cottonwood Canyon (S.R. 190) and Little Cottonwood Canyon (S.R. 210) incident free, it is important to ensure that you have traction devices appropriate for winter driving conditions. Snow-worthy tires or chains are not just for your safety, it is the rule of the road. The Traction Law is specific to a few critical parts of the highway across Utah, including both S.R. 190 and S.R. 210 during severe winter weather conditions.

AWD/4WD: M + S or M/S tires is the minimum requirement. Traction devices such as chains or 3 peak mountain snow flake (3PMSF) tires are also acceptable.

2WD: 3 peak mountain snow flake (3PMSF) tires (on all four tires) is the minimum requirement. Traction devices such as chains are also acceptable.

Follow @UDOTCottonwoods on Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates on winter driving conditions and when the “Traction Law” (snow tire and chain requirements) is in effect.


Winter weather driving is challenging, especially in the Cottonwood Canyons. If you are visiting from out-of-town and renting a vehicle, check with the rental company to verify that your vehicle is equipped with four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) and the correct tires by showing them this card:

Public transportation

Utah Transit Authority (UTA) began Ski Bus trips on November 29. There are 35 trips going up and down Little Cottonwood Canyon (Route 953 and 994) each day and 79 bus trips going up and down Big Cottonwood Canyon (Route 972) each day. With your season pass to Snowbird, Brighton, Alta, and Solitude – you get to ride the UTA Ski Bus for free!

Ride UTA is expecting greater delays on the ski bus due to the safety measures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase canyon traffic. However, they will be monitoring ridership daily and working with the ski resorts to get riders to and from the resorts as effectively as possible.

We suggest you take advantage of their recommended low peak days, times, routes and parking below to minimize those delays. There are six Park & Ride Lots that service the Ski Bus routes. The Park & Ride lots closest to the canyons are full by 8:30am on most days – including week days. See the Ski Bus route schedule and map below for a visual.

Best Days of the Week to Avoid Crowds: Tuesday – Thursday

Best Times of Days to Avoid Crowds: 11am – 3pm 

Best Park and Ride Lots: 

    • Route 953Midvale to Snowbird/Alta
      • Midvale Ft Union Station, 7250 South 180 West
      • 950 E 6600 S
      • 6200 S. Wasatch Blvd 
    • Route 972Midvale to Solitude/Brighton
      • Midvale Ft Union Station, 7250 South 180 West. (Route 953)
      • 6200 S. Wasatch Blvd 
    • Route 994Sandy to Snowbird/Alta
      • Historic Sandy Station, 9000 South 165 East
      • 9400 South Highland Drive

To locate a bus, use the vehicle locator tool here. You can also visit the UTA website and follow @RideUTA on Twitter for real-time updates on public transit.

HOW TO #TravelWise in the Cottonwood Canyons

TravelWise is a set of actions that encourage Utahns (you too visitors!) to reduce energy consumption, optimize mobility and improve air quality – ultimately improving quality of life. So what the actions that apply to the Cottonwood Canyons?

  • Carpooling/Vanpooling – scroll for Carpool information below!
  • Public Transit – hop on the Ride UTA #SkiBus
  • Skip the Trip – sometimes the traffic on a busy weekend just isn’t worth it!
  • Plan Ahead follow our tweets and stories for updates or head over to the UDOT Traffic App to see where traffic is building and if there are weather-related delays!
  • Active Transportation – ever tried biking up the Cottonwoods to go skiing? #BeastMode
  • Alternative Travel Times – relieve the red snake and prevent unnecessary car emissions.
TravelWise Logo


Carpooling or ridesharing is a great way to reduce traffic congestion and help clear the air in the canyons. You can use the TravelWise Carpool/Vanpool Tool, the Ski Utah & Noetic Labs Ride App , Snowbird R.I.D.E. App , or join the Wasatch Carpool Facebook Group to find others that are headed up to the mountains! 

Carpool using the UTA ride share vans