How the new parking system works, the free shuttles

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The scene at the start of the Quandary Peak trailhead in mid-morning last Saturday might have seemed unimaginable to nearby residents. But on July 30, Summit County imposed paid parking requirements and instituted free shuttles from Breckenridge to address dangerous parking overflow issues at the foot of Colorado’s busiest fourteen.

No cars were illegally parked along Blue Lakes Road or along nearby Colorado Highway 9, which had become a serious safety concern in recent years as the number of Quandary Peak users skyrocketed. There were also plenty of empty parking spots in the newly expanded trailhead parking lot.

Emily Martino took a look at the parking lot in front of the house she had shared with her partner David Pfau for 20 years and said the parking lot would surely have been full without the new restrictions, which went into effect the day before .

“Cars would go up and down the road as well, and up and down Highway 9,” Martino said.

It now costs $ 20 to park at the trailhead from 4 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or noon to 7:30 p.m., while all-day parking costs $ 50. Reservations must be made online and there is no cell service at the trailhead, so hikers are advised to book before heading to the summit.

John Meyer, The Denver Post

Hikers wait in Breckenridge for a free shuttle to the Quandary Peak trailhead on Saturday at 5 a.m. on July 31, the day after Summit County imposed mandatory paid reserved parking at the trailhead to deter the illegal parking on neighboring roads.

The trailhead also serves McCullough Gulch, a faster hike parallel to the climb to Quandary Peak, about 2 miles north. Ten spots are reserved in the field for these users, with three-hour slots costing $ 5.

For those who don’t want to pay to park – or are trying to reserve a spot, only to find the lot is full – shuttles run every 30 minutes from a parking lot a few miles north of downtown Breckenridge, to depart at 5 am, for the 10 mile journey south to Quandary. Twenty hikers were lining up at 5 a.m. on Saturday when the first 12-passenger shuttle arrived, meaning eight had to wait for the next 30 minutes later.

Among those waiting for the first shuttle were Holly Bennett and her “adventure buddy” Father Mike Glock, who were coming from Ohio “to gain altitude” for the ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro in September. . However, taking the shuttle was not in their plans at the start of the day.

After flying to Colorado on Friday night, they weren’t aware of Quandary’s new parking restrictions until they made it to the trailhead at 4 a.m. on Saturday and saw signs saying the new policy. They pulled up while they still had cell phone service to reserve a parking spot but there was none available so they turned around and walked to the shuttle parking lot.

“We’ve done quite a bit of research on this, starting last year, to climb that peak,” Glock said. “Nothing online said anything about parking permits. I’ve climbed great mountains all over the west, all the great peaks in all the great states. I have never seen paid parking before.

Among those who took the 6 a.m. shuttle were Aubrey Keys and her 8-year-old children Johanna and Jonas. Keys said she discovered the parking restriction a week earlier.

“We were planning on doing a fourteen at the end of the summer, and it’s one of the easiest for kids, so I kept looking for stuff on that and saw, ‘Oh -oh, I can’t park there anymore, ”Keys said. “Actually the shuttle works, because I don’t have to worry about finding a parking space.”

A separate shuttle bus goes back and forth between the Quandary Peak parking lot and the McCullough Gulch trailhead. This hike is much shorter and easier than the 6 mile, 3,300 foot round trip hike to the summit of Quandary at 14,247 feet. The McCullough Gulch Trail is 2.6 miles round trip, rising 815 feet to 11,105 feet.

“It’s a pretty moderate hike, rolling elevation gain, absolutely beautiful,” Breckenridge resident Hannah Rheaume said as she waited for a shuttle back into town. “There’s a bunch of wildflowers right now, the lakes are pristine, and if you get up early enough, there’s no one else up there. Even with the shuttle system, we were up there at 6.30am and didn’t see anyone else until the hike started.

David Pfau, who lived through ...

John Meyer, The Denver Post

David Pfau, who has lived across from the Quandary Peak parking lot for 30 years, said he had trails in the area almost for him at the time. In recent years, hundreds of illegally parked cars have become commonplace outside Colorado’s busiest neighborhood. Now Summit County officials are battling the issue by writing out $ 100 parking tickets and providing free shuttle service from Breckenridge.

In his front yard across from the Quandary Trailhead, Pfau remembered how things were when he first bought the house 30 years ago. Back then, he could hike the trails in the area and have them almost to himself. On July 4 of last year, he counted 520 cars at the trailhead, most of them illegally parked. On the 4th of this year, it only counted 400, as the Summit County Sheriff showed up and started writing notes.

Martino said after the couple did not post any parking signs on their property, people would park next to the sign.

“We would ask them to move and they would knock us over,” Martino said. “Now that everything is set up this way, I think people will understand the idea.” Tickets for roadside parking or parking in the parking lot without a reservation will cost $ 100.

Pfau proudly showed a visitor a shopping bag full of fresh mushrooms he had picked earlier in the morning, walking a trail he had come to avoid for the past 10 years due to crowds.

“It was so beautiful this morning,” Pfau said. “We walked up Quandary, the first part of it, to our mushroom harvesting area and only saw three people. We got our trail back.

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