We want Snow King to succeed as our Town Hill, not an amusement park
We believe Jackson Hole can be a national model of a strong community living in balance with nature, and Snow King can be the greatest example of this balance: a resort built on our community values of protecting wildlife and providing access to nature on our public lands.
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Our vision is that Snow King succeeds as our town hill that reflects and respects the character and values of our town:
- We maintain the free public access we’ve always enjoyed on our town hill, for residents and visitors.
- We respect and protect wildlife and nature, with no net loss of habitat or migration corridors.
- We respect our neighbors and our community around Snow King – not creating undue noise or light pollution, traffic, or parking pressure.
- We protect our public lands like Phil Baux Park and the ballfield – instead of allowing public land to be annexed and privatized
- We build housing for our workforce to fully offset increased commercial development.
- We ensure economic viability based on fair deals and transparency, and quality improvements built within the current resort footprint
- And overall, we remain a true community, not just a resort dominated by an amusement park.
We don’t want Snow King to become an amusement park where:
- Our town hill is covered in roller coasters, top-to-bottom noisy ziplines full of screaming people, and a massive restaurant complex on top of the mountain
- We expand boundaries and operations into important wildlife habitat
- Locals can’t freely use our own public lands for human-powered recreation
In order to help our community have a productive dialogue about our shared vision for our town hill, we spent months in analysis and conversation with a broad range of community members – developers, elected representatives, planners, national forest staff, neighbors, skiers, snowboarders, and naturalists, young and old – and produced this balanced vision for our town hill. Below the map, we describe each element and why we believe this vision reflects our community values.
The goal of presenting this vision is to spark a community dialogue where bold and creative solutions can be explored and discussed. We want this to be the beginning of the conversation, not the end, and look forward to an authentic and transparent community dialogue.
This isn’t “our proposal” for what to do at Snow King. Rather, it’s a vision we’re offering Snow King Mountain Resort to use instead of their existing proposal, because we believe it would likely find much more community buy-in and support than their current massive proposal.
And we believe Snow King can succeed economically with responsible redevelopment like this, without becoming a private amusement park covered in roller coasters and top-to-bottom ziplines. If Snow King investors believe this reasonable approach is not enough, the burden of proof is on them to be transparent, share the relevant financial information, and make that case to our community. As Ronald Reagan liked to say: “Trust, but verify.”
We encourage feedback and comment on this plan. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and ideas – and let us know if you’d like to join our team of volunteer community members shaping this vision.
An observatory would be a unique educational opportunity for the community and a great offering to visitors – connecting people with the natural world. Ensure that the new restaurant and other activity does not create light pollution preventing Dark Skies for the observatory.
Green-Built Summit Restaurant
A new summit restaurant could create a quality and welcoming gathering place for locals and visitors. It should be built within or close to the existing Panorama House footprint, with minimal visual and environmental impact, no “skylining,” and no light pollution. Given its spectacular location, the restaurant should be a national model of “green” design and building. We do not need a massive 15,000 square foot complex with the associated infrastructure and impacts.
No Backside Development
Snow King should improve existing terrain instead of increasing the resort operating boundaries onto the back (south) side of the mountain. A new lift on the backside would greatly increase encroachment and use in a drainage that is currently unused except by wildlife. South-side terrain is sunny and windswept, which results in more available forage for wildlife like mule deer, and also causes difficulty maintaining desirable, skiable snow conditions and depths.
Preserve Western Boundary and Critical Habitat Buffer
Snow King should improve existing terrain within the current boundaries instead of increasing the resort operating boundaries to the West – onto Josie’s Ridge. This is an unnecessary expansion onto terrain similar to the already-open steep, north-facing, uncrowded and underutilized resort terrain. Additionally, an expansion would disturb habitat close to critical winter range that is closed to all human use. If we can’t even walk out there, why allow more disturbance near it with skiing and a road?
Preserve Current Public Trail System
An important and fundamental part of the Town Hill is the public trail system we all use. The current trail system is an integral part of the larger Cache Creek trail system and is used extensively in summer and winter, night and day. Almost 90% of these trails are either on Town of Jackson or Forest Service land and should not be disturbed.
Continue Free Public Access to Snow King
The public should have the unfettered legal right to use Snow King land as we always have. Almost 90% of the Snow King ski area sits on public land, owned by the Town of Jackson or the Forest Service. Part of new development should be an agreement that ensures human-powered public access rights forever. We should all be free to walk dogs, trail run, hike, mountain bike, skin or hike uphill, and enjoy the mountain with our families and friends regardless of income. We should not have to pay to do human-powered recreation on our own public lands – and these historic recreation uses should never be prohibited.
Save Phil Baux Park
We reject the proposal to privatize Phil Baux Park and build a gondola on what is now public land. Instead, we should build the new lift in the footprint of the existing summit lift. Phil Baux Park and the ballfield are at the center of Town and serve as an important gathering place for family and friends to enjoy the Peoples’ Market, bouldering wall, ball games, public events, and family picnics. Decreasing these activities would be a significant and unfair loss to countless locals. Our community has invested time and money into making this public area so valuable to many people. It’s owned by Jackson citizens and should not be given away to private investors.
New Covered High-Speed Quad
We encourage replacing the Summit Lift with a covered high-speed quad chairlift, adjacent to the Cougar Lift. The current lift is slow and old and should be replaced by a new and faster high-speed quad. A covered lift will provide more comfortable transportation on rainy, snowy, or frigid days, for skiers and to the restaurant on top – without the massive cost of a new gondola or losing the ballfield. The excessive cost of building a gondola would put Snow King back in the red, which would either defeat the purpose of the entire redevelopment, or force us to approve more amusement park rides to pay off the gondola cost. Alternatively, we could build the new lift through a public-private partnership, with our community investing in a lift that meets our needs and wants, without being beholden to unwanted development to pay for it.
Community Assets at the Base – not just hotels and condos
The current base masterplan allows half a million square feet more commercial development – a convention center, hundreds of hotel rooms, and more luxury condos. We propose working with our community to find out what would be true community assets. We show ideas here like another ice rink, a climbing gym, Ski Club facilities, a parking garage, and a significant amount of housing for our workforce – real improvements that would make Snow King even more the recreational heart of our community. If landowners are interested but can’t afford to build these amenities, our Town could consider a public-private partnership to invest in great projects that benefit us all.
No New Road
Snow King does not need a new road scarring the entire frontside and breaking through the boundaries. Instead, Snow King or the Town should arrange for an easement providing perpetual access via the existing Leeks Canyon Road. Alternatively, Snow King could use helicopters to build new summit infrastructure.
Quiet Zip Line
New zip lines should be limited to the Rafferty Lift area where there is already considerable activity such as the Cowboy Coaster – instead of noisy top-to-bottom and criss-cross zip lines creating a massive, intrusive new amusement park, with loud screaming heard all over town all day every day. This will also keep the current public trail system in its peaceful state for quiet hikes, biking, and skinning in its natural setting. The zipline should also incorporate state-of-the-art noise-canceling technology so that constant screaming doesn’t disrupt wildlife and people.
Beginner / Intermediate Area
Snow King already has a great location for beginner and intermediate skiers – the Rafferty area – and doesn’t need to expand the footprint onto new terrain. A new Magic Carpet and T-Bar to the west of the Rafferty Lift would welcome beginners, without the impacts of expanding the footprint into new areas.
Expand terrain park on suitable grades including Rafferty and the current Old Man’s Flats location. Create more features for beginners and intermediates, and provide the opportunity to link terrain parks and isolated features with berms/wiggles. Build a halfpipe for all abilities. Construct natural wooden terrain features on appropriate areas of the mountain.
Maximize Use of In-Bounds Terrain
Enhance and maximize all of Snow King’s existing inbounds permitted terrain with removal of downfall, selective thinning, and potentially cut new narrow trails that will not impact the historical view, or require avalanche mitigation and snowmaking. Use natural topography features such as ravines and small ridges to improve fall-line top to bottom ski runs.
Link to Cache Creek Trails
The eastern boundary is a quick transition from the developed Snow King Mountain Resort to the untouched beauty and wild area of the Cache Creek trail system. We are so lucky to live in a place where we can step from our active town into true wilderness with a mere hike out the east side of the Town Hill. We support maintaining free public access through this connection to the trails in Cache Creek.
Preserve Eastern Boundary and Our Wild Lands
Nothing represents Jackson’s unique lifestyle more than having abundant wildlife directly adjacent to town – deer, elk, owls, northern goshawks, cougars, bears, and wolves. The eastern boundary of Snow King Mountain has an incredible and diverse concentration of wildlife right next to town. Jackson has the rare privilege of an intact ecosystem, and as stated in our Comprehensive Plan, we are responsible for “preserving and protecting our area’s ecosystem” from unnecessary development. We can set an example different from the rampant overdevelopment, commercialization, and amusement parks of other resort communities. We can prioritize the value of a dense, protected forest in supporting our magnificent array of wildlife. We do not need a new lift or new trails in this important area.