Should Jackson Hole expand? It’s something that’s been debated for years by locals, the ski resort, and environmentalists. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that numerous expansions are being considered at the Wyoming ski resort.
The first expansion being considered is over at the Cody Bowl, with two lifts being proposed. One of the lifts would be a handle tow that services the Powder Eights. This would only be open during the spring and early summer. It would be a throwback to the 1960s, as there was a rope tow in the Cody Bowl back then. This would allow Jackson Hole to host spring and summer ski/snowboard camps.
The other lift would bring riders back up to Rendevous Mountain. An alpine hut is also being considered. Currently, the Cody Bowl is only accessible to backcountry skiers and riders, but it’s zoned for ski lift development.
They are also looking at expanding into Rock Springs and Green River canyons. In their 2022 Master Development Plan, they proposed adding 620 acres into their SUP Boundary. This was accepted by the U.S. Forest Service. The first additions would be to add summertime hiking trails and guided climbing tours into these canyons.
While lifts in these two canyons are not part of the master development plan, it seems like they could be considered in the future. Here was Bill Schreiber, who is Jackson Hole’s retiring director of planning and engineering, response to a potential skiable acreage expansion into these canyons.
“Years down the road, will somebody propose lifts in there? Probably.”
It should be noted that these expansions aren’t a priority for years, potentially even decades. While the Forest Service accepted the master development plan as a whole, each individual project, like the lifts in the Cody Bowl, will have to be approved by the U.S. Forest Service in order for it to actually happen. The approval process includes a site evaluation, environmental review, and public feedback.
While a terrain expansion into Cody Bowl seems somewhat likely, the expansions into Rock Springs and Green River are definitely in the distant future, if they even happen at all.
Environmentalists are also likely to fight hard against all three of those expansions, as they have over at Grand Targhee. Bighorn sheep live around the Cody Bowl, making a lift development there possibly problematic. Backcountry skiers and riders will also likely be against these plans, as it would take away their powder stashes.
In the meantime, Jackson Hole has a slew of projects that they’ll be working on in the coming years. They just replaced the Thunder chairlift with a high-speed quad, which opened back in December. Their next lift replacement will likely be the Sublette chairlift, which opened back in 1987.
Another new lift addition is the proposal to put one in the Lower Sublette terrain pod. While this is divisive among locals due to it having many powder stashes, it will help to spread guests out.
In terms of infrastructure improvements, Corbet’s Cabin will be replaced by a larger facility. This project was initially going to start this summer, but it has been moved back for at least another year.
Ultimately, a lot can change at Jackson Hole in the coming years. It will be interesting to see what comes to fruition, and what gets scrapped.
Image Credits: Courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Painted Buffalo Inn