Snow Thanks: Forget Thanksgiving dinner; ski season is officially open

By on November 27, 2017

Brace yourselves; Targhee is officially open for snow business. (Photo by Abby Moore)

Thanksgiving marks the start of the holidays, but just as (or perhaps more) importantly, it also marks the official start of ski season.

Grand Targhee Resort kicked off its season on Nov. 17, when it opened with some of the best snow its ever had so early in the season, said Jennie White, marketing director for the resort.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort follows Targhee, with its opening slated for Saturday, and Snow King plans to open to the public Dec. 2.

As of this paper’s deadline, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort hadn’t announced how much of the mountain would open on Saturday, but more than a week before opening day 92 inches of snow had been recorded in Rendezvous Bowl, said Eric Seymour, a spokesman for the resort.

“The upper mountain is skiing superb and filling out nicely,” Seymour said.

Resort staff said they had also blown snow on several days to help fill in the lower mountain. While some ski areas in other states are able to only open strips of terrain, Seymour expected JHMR to open a variety of terrain.

The resort has increased its snowmaking capacity this year to target areas like the base, Seymour said. They also added a new gondola barn for the Sweetwater Gondola and framed the Solitude Station, a 12,000-square-foot building that will open next year. It will service the mountain sports school, offer lockers and provide dining options when it opens next season.

The resort is offering promotions including free ski days when booking qualifying lodging. The resort also offers early season pricing. An adult lift ticket costs $89 opening day.

At Grand Targhee, skiing on Thanksgiving is a tradition for some families, White said. The resort opened with the deepest base depth of any ski area in the United States, with almost 50 inches reported days before opening, she said. The ski area had already received about 100 inches of snow before it opened and more continued to fall. All ski lifts opened Friday.

“This is actually a really good start to the season,” White said.

Grand Targhee added two new grooming machines to its fleet this year, as well as a new suite of ski and snowboard rentals. The resort also made lodging improvements and purchased a new wax machine for the repair shop. But the thing that people love most about Grand Targhee—aside from its snow—remains the same.

“It’s just that feeling you get when you arrive at Grand Targhee,” White said. “It’s the vibe and atmosphere. Everyone is here because they love to ski and ride. It’s not about being seen, but actually just riding the mountain. We’re not a big corporation. We’re that boutique operation that is true to its roots.”

The ski area’s events calendar is packed for the season, including a new slope style rail jam event scheduled March 3-4, White said. Regular season single day adult lift tickets cost $85.

Snow King will open to the public Dec. 2, and a new magic carpet at the tube park will make taking tubing laps a little easier and faster, said Ryan Stanley, general manager. The tube park is scheduled to open around Dec. 16.

The ski area also improved its indoor ski school space and added more lights on sections of the mountain open for night skiing.

“We’re trying to continue to improve the night skiing,” he said.

Snow King will charge those who skin, or ski uphill, $75 for a season uphill pass, which is new this year. In the past, skiing uphill at Snow King was free. But Snow King spends more than half a million dollars to create and blow snow uphill skiers use, and more people each year were using the mountain for free. Those who purchase a regular season pass also get an uphill pass for free, Stanley said.

Shortly after opening, Snow King will hold a snocross race, which is slated to happen Dec. 8-9. During the Amsoil Championsip event, Stanley said spectators will get to watch some of the best snocross racers in the country hit jumps as big as 20-feet high, while sharing the track with other competitors. The event will also bring in national vendors.

Despite the changes, Snow King is still “the Town Hill,” Stanley said. It’s affordable and easy to get to. There are family activity options like tubing and the Cowboy Coaster. Full day adult lift tickets are $55. PJH


About Kelsey Dayton

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