Snow King Mountain

Snow King Mountain saw an uptick in visitors Sunday after Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ceased operations for the day.

All three of Teton County's ski resorts have closed for the season, joining a wider effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community and United States.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort, Grand Targhee Resort will all cease to operate starting Monday.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was the first to close, announcing first that it would not spin its lifts Sunday after a storm dumped close to two feet of powder in the Tetons. Later, it posted a message on its JH Insider app announcing its decision to close for the season and followed up soon after with a press release confirming the decision.

"It is with great spirit for the love of skiing and riding in the mountains that JHMR thanks you for a safe and memorable season," the resort wrote in the app post. "JHMR looks forward to welcoming you back soon."

After the morning closure of the valley's snow sports mothership, skiers and snowboarders flocked to Snow King to take advantage of the powder. The town hill remained open throughout the day, encouraging skiers to stay six feet away from one another — which proved difficult in the lift lines. It shut down ticket sales in the afternoon and, by 5:30 p.m., decided it would close for the season.

Grand Targhee acted similarly. It opened yesterday morning but, later in the day, declared Sunday the last day its lifts would spin.

Marketing Manager Jennie White said Targhee's decision was made considering "a little bit of everything" about COVID-19, including the closure of other ski resorts nationwide.

"The top priority is the health and wellbeing of our guests, our employees and the community," she said.

Snow King General Manager Ryan Stanley said the early closures were a loss, especially for employees.

"It’s definitely a big impact — the loss of the hill climb is a big impact and it’s a big impact to our employees too," he said. "A lot of those people had planned to work another couple weeks and now they’re out of work."

At press time Sunday, Stanley said it was "still too early to say" how Snow King would work with affected employees.

"We just made this decision in the past few hours," he said.

Targhee said it was working on a “departure package” for employees impacted by the shutdown. In JH Insider post, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort said it would offer two weeks of scheduled pay and benefit protection to employees affected by the change.

For guests, Targhee said it will continue to operate lodging and some restaurants until Wednesday for those staying there, as well as the airport and local shuttles. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort said it would work with guests and pass holders to offer refunds and credits.

Targhee also closed uphill travel indefinitely.

The situation in the ski industry is changing rapidly nationwide, as groups mobilize to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On Saturday, two ski behemoths, Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company, announced they were shutting down operations, effective Sunday.

Vail said it will close until March 22 to "reassess" how to handle the rest of the season. Alterra said it was closed "until further notice."

Closures of the resorts may increase the allure of the backcountry for dedicated skiers and riders. Teton County Search and Rescue, which cancelled group training this weekend to keep first-responders healthy, sent out a reminder early Sunday for those who venture into avalanche terrain.

"Big storms can bring unfortunate accidents for weeks to follow, so please remember to be prepared and change plans accordingly,” Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation Executive Director Stephanie Thomas said in the release.

The News&Guide is providing COVID-19 articles free of charge to non-subscribers as a community service. The News&Guide has created a special page on our website to find all local coronavirus coverage and we'll send out the Healthwise newsletter each morning with the latest articles. Stay informed, stay calm and wash your hands early and often. — Eds.

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Teton County Reporter

Previously the Scene editor, Billy Arnold made the switch to the county beat where he's interested in exploring Teton County as a model for the rest of the West. When he can, he still writes about art, music and whatever else suits his fancy.

(1) comment

Deirdre O'Mara

That the first picture in the article shows skiers and riders getting on a bus is all you need to know as to why the resorts have to close. - Tom Bennett

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