Locals' Hills In Northern Rockies Plan Upgrades For Next Season
After closing for this season, a group of smaller ski and snowboard hills along the northern tier of the U.S. Rockies will work toward making improvements that range from new lifts to base area upgrades to snowmaking.
Leading the way is the Jackson, Wyoming town hill Snow King, which has received U.S. Forest Service approval for the first phase of its ambitious expansion plans on the 400-acre hill including an eight-person gondola up the front, a four-seater chair on the backside, a new beginner zone with two conveyors, and a zipline.
Part of original plans that have been eliminated or put on hold includes a summit restaurant, new runs on both front and back, a 110-acre bike park, and a wedding venue.
Eastern Idaho's Kelly Canyon announced that it plans to have a new triple chair ready for the 2021-2022 season. It would be the first new lift since the 1970s. The 688-acre day mountain currently has four double chairs, serving 1,000 feet of vertical drop.
The exact route of the new fixed-grip lift hasn't been determined, although ownership said the chair would run 600 feet farther up the hill to give access to previously hike-to terrain. The project awaits U.S. Forest Service review.
A favorite of Idaho Falls locals and BYU-Idaho students, Kelly Canyon has been open half-days during the week, with night skiing 'til 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Back in Wyoming, Snowy Range is recovering from serious damage from the 2020 Mullen forest fire. Plans for this summer include putting in more snowmaking pipes and upgrading supply lines, re-grading of beginner areas, a second parking lot, and a bridge connecting its two lots.
Covering 250 acres of skiable terrain with about 700 vertical feet, Snowy Range will also add a yurt and toilets at the base for its local skiers and riders who drive 40 miles from Laramie. About 3/4 of runs are blue or green.
And, Sleeping Giant outside of Cody will also upgrade its snowmaking capabilities better cover its 184 acres and 800 feet of vertical drop. Located just outside Yellowstone Park, the local hill for Cody got private ownership this past season -- the first time ever for the glade-covered mountain.
The new owners trimmed losses and assessed the ski and snowboard hill this season before announcing snowmaking, ski school, and youth scholarship upgrades for the 2021-2022 season.