Snow King expansion plans inch forward slowly

Jeff Golightly and Ryan Stanley of Snow King Resort. (TOJ)

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Snow King leaders made some headway toward their Phase 2 expansion plans for the resort.

At the town council workshop yesterday, Snow King was looking for the town to sign off on a letter to the Forest Service that would allow a NEPA process to begin. Some worried the letter would be tacit approval of what Snow King was looking to do as far as expanded terrain, new Gondola, ziplines, and a summit restaurant/observatory, among other things. GM Ryan Stanley and COO Jeff Golightly explained they were simply looking to get an anticipated lengthy process rolling with the federal government, and simultaneously would work with the town to update or redo their master plan.

It’s important to note, Snow King has two master plans. One for the USFS that deals with the things they would like to do as a leaser of public lands. The other plan addresses more of the base area use and how expansion would affect the Town of Jackson.

“We don’t feel this letter is a tacit approval,” Golightly said. The Forest Service’s NEPA has a scoping process that will allow for extraordinary public input. We are in no way circumnavigating that process.”

Golightly also said no one was trying to make a mega resort out of the town hill. “Snow King will never be a destination-driver. People will still come to Jackson Hole to ski one of the best resorts in North America…and it’s not ours. I say that as a Snow King board member.”

Stanley added that he was just trying to make the historic little ski resort financially viable. The resort was losing up to $800k a year before he took over. Last year was Snow King’s best ever, he said, but they still operated in the red.

He added that nothing he was doing was secretive.

“We appreciate public watchdog groups like Alliance. They will say we haven’t gone in front of the public enough. That is false,” Stanley said.


Well over a dozen spoke out at the meeting—most in favor of Snow King, especially with how new leadership has been courting kids as a “skier breeder” resort.

Councilman Jim Stanford is wary of the way the resort has piecemealed additions and amenities while its 17-year-old master plan has become outdated and invalid.

“One thing that is important to keep in mind when we talk about the base area master plan for the resort—we are not talking about kids, we are talking about money. We are talking about longstanding development rights and responsibilities that were taken on in return for those development rights long ago, and many of those promises haven’t been delivered on,” Stanford said.

The councilman is joined by his peers, who generally see a need for a refreshed, comprehensive look at a master plan to fully view how proposed changes at Snow King will affect the community.

A decision to sign a letter to the Forest Service was put off until the town’s June 5 meeting.