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CITY & AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION    CAR RENTALS   TYPE OF VEHICLE to RENT    ABOUT DRIVING ON SNOW

AIRPORT SHUTTLE, LOCALTAXI, FREE SHUTTLE/BUS TRANSIT SYSTEM

  • PROS:  By using airport shuttles, city taxi services, and our free city bus and trolley transportation, a Park City winter vacation is a matter of relative ease without renting a vehicle.  If your vacation rental home has close access to free transportation, and if you are planning to stay in town and ski hard, then a private vehicle is helpful.
     
  • CONS:  Free transportation has limitations.  You must make some effort to get to it, including hauling skis and snowboards. And free transportation is not built around your schedule. It does not always arrive on time, and therefore you may find yourself waiting for short periods, possibly in cold weather, at pick-up spots.

PRIVATE RENTAL VEHICLE

  • PROS:  For comfort and convenience, renting a vehicle offers total mobility.  Free transportation stops later in the eveing.  A private vehicle opens the door to shopping trips to the Factory Stores, skiing at the Little & Big Cottonwood resorts (Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Brighton), trips to Salt Lake City for dining and events like Utah Jazz basketball games, touring theater, and more.
     
  • CONS:   A private vehicle can have its drawbacks as well. Locals in Park City have an expression we commonly joke about:  “They should have named the town NO ‘PARK’ CITY.”   On busy winter days and nights, parking at the resorts and on Historic Main Street can amount to no less than a challenge.  Parking on Main Street is for limited times of the day to 8pm and requires correct change, bills, or credit cards for the meters. 

FINDING A RENTAL VEHICLE
We expect that you will find your own vehicle through one of the major rental agencies.  They are all available near the airport, as well as in SLC and Park City.   Because so many are available as package deals with airfare we do not recommend any particular rental companies, but most offer notable discounts through your credit card company, the airlines, or on the web.

WHAT KIND OF VEHICLE ?   Front wheel Drive vs.  4-Wheel Drive?
At the very least we recommend a mid-size front wheel drive vehicle.

The weight of the engine over the front wheels makes a front wheel drive vehicle much more effective for driving on snow than a traditional rear wheel drive*.  Most small and mid-size rental cars are FWD, but we recommend highly that you inquire and confirm with your rental company.

Park City streets are regularly plowed, but during a heavy snowstorm you find greater confidence in a heavier vehicle, though weight is not by default the determining factor for safe driving on snow. A 4WD or AWD vehicle such as an SUV offers the most control for driving snowy streets.
* Rear wheel & Smaller Vehicles: Use Sandbags for extra weight.

If you do find yourself with a rear wheel drive vehicle we highly recommend putting at least 4 fifty-pound sand bags in the trunk or rear of the vehicle for extra friction on snowy streets.  We recommend the same for smaller, lighter FWD and 4WD vehicles as well.

PLEASE AVOID A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY.  A 4-WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLE IS NOT A PANACEA FOR ALL THINGS SNOWY
Just because your vehicle is in 4-wheel drive gear, or a full-time-4-wheel drive, does not mean it will not slip on the road. You must know when and how to take advantage of the 4-wheel feature, and understand its limitations.

Television commercials for Jeeps and other fancy 4-wheel drive vehicles show these vehicles in such commercials are filmed at pre-determined sites, with professional drivers, on choreographed course. And the drivers have usually rehearsed the route several times.

TIPS FOR DRIVING ON SNOWY ROADS
(Disclaimer – read this first)

-- the following tips are in no way legally sanctioned or verified by any official authority, government or otherwise., Snowgrotto, its management and ownership are in no way culpable or liable for accidents that occur in the use of your vehicle.  It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that any one who reads these tips, or attempts to test them, does so in a safe, secure driving environment, and not in the course of regular driving on city streets. Further it is recommended that drivers seek professional and official sources to learn and gain experience in 4WD and in adverse condition. These are meant only as a starting point for you to learn about 4W driving, and in driving on snowy, icy terrain.

FOR ALL OF THESE TIPS WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU PRACTICE FIRST IN A SECURE DRIVING ENVIRONMENT. An example of such an environment is large, empty parking lot, free of other cars and no other potential barriers or obstacles such as cement stopper curbs, poles, or other such things that might damage your vehicle or worse.  The more confident you are at driving in adverse conditions, the more you will know to respect such conditions and drive within you confidence level.

BRAKING ON SNOW CAN BE VERY TRICKY. 
Brakes react differently in the snow.  They can be counter-intuitive. 

You hit the brakes and continue to slide.  WHY?

 You hit the brakes, turn you wheels away from the direction of the slide, but still continue to slide. WHY?

Because the tire surface is not rolling. It is sliding.

The weight and momentum of the car are going in one direction while the wheels are stopped, sliding on the small surface of tire that is touching the icy street.

The wheels need to be turning to roll you in a different direction. 

To steer the car you may have to back off the brakes, but like most drivers you may have already turned your wheels. This means that you are sliding one way, your foot on the brakes, your tires cranked far to one side. If you release your brakes too quickly you are asking for trouble. Your car may quickly over-correct to the opposite direction and result in a spin-out.  DON”T OVERREACT IN A SLIDE. The wrong reaction may result in a worse scenario.  

ABS BREAKING
ABS breaks automatically stutter a hard stop for you.  They can also moderate your stop by stuttering in a slide, allowing you to make corrections against the direction of a slide.  If you have never experienced and ABS engaged stop, try it out in a vehicle with ABS. It can be very unnerving to have your foot on the brakes and then find the car stopping in this stuttered fashion.  It is a design feature that can be helpful on snowy conditions, but if you are not aware it will happen it can throw you into a panic.  Get to know your vehicle. Ask your rental agency for advice on ABS braking, and consult the vehicle driving manual as not all vehicles operate the same.

DRIVING DOWN STEEP STRETCH OF ROAD
Driving down steep street is best managed by going at the right speed for the street and street conditions.  Nonetheless, there is no guarantee that on a slick street you will not slide. Using your brakes wisely can be your best asset.

If you break hard and hold the pedal down there is a good chance you can slide yourself off the road, as most cars don’t naturally slide in a perfectly straight direction.   The trick is to ride the brakes gently, and tap them.  Tapping the brakes slows you down. Releasing the brake allows the wheels to roll, letting you make small and gradual corrections against the direction of a slide.

DRIVING DOWN A STRAIGHT ROAD
With snow, snow drifts, dense snowy tire grooves, icy roads, poor visibility and so on, even driving on a straight road can result in sliding off the road, spinning out, or limited stopping range.  DON”T DRIVE TOO FAST. Try to follow the line of the driver’s before you. Here the snow will be worn down and you should find the most traction.  Always leave plenty of extra room than normal driving for extra stopping distance.

DRIVING AROUND A BEND
If you are driving around a bend at too high a speed, even a 4-wheel drive can slide off a slick, snow covered road.  The best solution is not to speed.  You’re on vacation, no need to rush

Even if you are not driving too fast, with the wrong conditions, on a poorly banked road, and only a thin sheet of ice or wet snow, you can find yourself losing traction and sliding. If you are in such conditions, or you are not sure, it is best to slow down.  The drivers behind you will understand. Now is when knowing how to use 4WD comes in handy. 

First, when driving in adverse conditions make sure you are in 4WD gearing if your vehicle is not a full time 4WD. 

If you find yourself slipping, keep in mind that braking will generally result in a slide in the direction your vehicle is moving. If there is room to stop, great.   But if you are going to slide into a row of vehicles, you may consider pointing your wheels in the direction you need to go, and gently releasing the brakes. Doing so will allow the wheels to roll you in the direction you have them pointed. 

Please note that if you release the brakes too fast you may find yourself jumping across the road as you may, for example, be sliding your right, but your wheels are pointed to the left. Gently releasing the brakes allows you to determine how far the correction will take you without causing you to fly there, which can result in a spin out.

I releasing the break starts to point you in the right direction, applying the gas will help you pull out of a slide.  The trick is not to overdo it.  All four wheels are working for you when you are applying the gas. However, do not overreact by pressing the gas too hard, as this may result in loss of control.  Make sure your front wheels are not over cranked.

Keep in mind that riding the brakes down a long hill such as the roads leaving Deer Valley, or the Cottonwood canyons can burn out your brake pads. The tapping method is meant for a small stretch of steep driving.  For longer stretches of road a combination of gentle braking and engine braking may be more practical.

BLACK ICE – INVISIBLE ICE
Patches of black are almost impossible to see. They are simply a thin “ice sheet” that formed on a section of road usually due to snow melt and re-freezing.   Sometimes there is no avoiding such unfortunate driving terrain. Your best bet is to drive safely, at the speed limit, and to take time to get to know your vehicles turning and breaking features. It is also extremely helpful to practice driving in a safe, secure driving environment where you can take your vehicle in a controlled spin and see how it reacts and how you can correct it.

ARE YOU STUCK
Despite your best efforts, it can happen. 

You try to go over a mound of snow that was in your way and suddenly you are stuck over it. Start digging.

You are trying to back out, or go somewhere, and you can’t get any traction.

HERE ARE A FEW TRICKS TO HELP YOU.

  • 1) try rocking the vehicle back and forth, between giving it gas, and braking at the high-points.  Think about where the wheels are pointed, and where you want to end up.  If you don’t you may just find yourself stuck across the street.
  • 2) Try de-flating your tires for more surface traction.  This helps, but use caution not go too low, and put the tire pressure back to normal at the next available air station, otherwise this can cause for potentially dangerous driving conditions which your car was not designed for, and it can adversely effect gas mileage.
  • 3) Get some chains, and if you do get stuck don’t be to embarrassed to ask for help.
  • 4) Sign up for the Automobile Club (AAA)
  • 5) Always keep a charged cell phone with you.
  • Disclaimer:  please read our disclaimer above, please consult professional advice, and please drive responsibly and safely.
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    Snow Grotto
    P.O. Box 3976
    Park City, UT 84060
    T: 1-877-649-0222
    E:
    info@snowgrotto.com