Snow King Mountain

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Snow King Mountain
The Town Hill, adjacent to the city,in March 2008
The Town Hill, adjacent to the city,
in March 2008
Snow King Mountain is located in the US
Snow King Mountain
Snow King Mountain
Location in the United States
Location Jackson, Wyoming, U.S.
Nearest city Jackson - (adjacent)
Coordinates 43°28′23″N 110°45′22″W / 43.473°N 110.756°W / 43.473; -110.756Coordinates: 43°28′23″N 110°45′22″W / 43.473°N 110.756°W / 43.473; -110.756
Vertical 1,571 ft (479 m)
Top elevation 7,808 ft (2,380 m)
Base elevation 6,237 ft (1,901 m)
Skiable area 400 acres (1.6 km2)
Longest run 0.9 miles (1.4 km)
Lift system 3 chairlifts
Terrain parks 2
Snowfall 150 in (380 cm)
Snowmaking 150 acres (0.6 km2)
Night skiing until 7 pm (Tue–Fri)

Snow King Mountain Resort is a ski area and summertime activity center in the western United States, located in Jackson, Wyoming. Also called The King, it is Jackson's original ski hill, founded 78 years ago in 1939 and located on the southeast edge of the city.[1] It was the first ski area in the state of Wyoming, and locals sometimes refer to Snow King as The Town Hill. It offers three-hour passes and night skiing on its north-facing slopes.

Snow King's lift tickets are considerably less expensive than the two nearby resorts, Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee, which opened in 1965 and 1969, respectively. Snow King offers a full-day lift ticket for $47; Jackson Hole's full day ticket is $121.

Summer season[edit]

Cowboy Coaster[edit]

The Cowboy Coaster on Snow King Mountain is a mountain coaster built by Wiegand Sports USA and completed 2 years ago in October 2015 on the eastern side of the mountain near the Rafferty Lift. Guests load and unload the carts at the base of the ride. The ride up takes about 5.5 minutes, and the ride down lasts between 2.5 and 4 minutes depending on the rider who can control the speed up to a maximum speed of 25 mph. The track gets as high as 43 feet off the ground, carries riders 456 vertical feet up Snow King Mountain and downhill on 3,295 feet of track (just a bit less than 1 mile), with 4 circles and 6 bridges. The track takes passengers through fields of grass and flowers, all framed by a view of the Teton range and the Jackson Hole valley.

Treetop Adventure[edit]

The Treetop Adventure at Snow King Mountain is an aerial adventure park built by Outplay Adventures and opened 2 years ago in November 2015 on the eastern side of the mountain at the mid-station of the Rafferty Lift. The park has four adult courses of progressive difficulty, and a kids course. The park features nearly 100 "challenges" or "games" including zip lines, Tarzan swings, suspended bridges, nets, swinging logs, and aerial skateboards.

Mini Golf[edit]

The miniature golf course on Snow King Mountain is currently open on the eastern side of the resort. It opened for business on Saturday June 25, 2016. The course was built by Harris Miniature Golf Company.

King's Grill Restaurant[edit]

The King's Grill restaurant at Snow King Mountain is scheduled to open May 20 on the eastern side of the resort. The restaurant will serve family-friendly American food including hamburgers and hot dogs, salads, pizzas and ice cream.

Alpine slide[edit]

The alpine slide on Snow King was installed 39 years ago in 1978 and is serviced by the Rafferty lift on the east side of the resort. Attendees catch the double chair at the base and ride to the top of the slide, grab a sled and go. The speed of the sleds are controlled almost entirely by the rider and the half-mile (800 m) track takes passengers through fields of grass and flowers, all framed by an unbroken view of the Teton range and the Jackson Hole valley.

Scenic lift[edit]

Chairlift rides take place at the Summit lift; passengers board at the base of the Town Hill and, in 12 minutes, are on top of Snow King. The summit is outfitted with cold beverages, a nature trail and a panoramic viewing deck. The view on the way up is scenic, with flora and fauna to be observed, the view on the way down is especially beautiful facing out from the mountain. The valley stretches out from the base of the mountain with the town of Jackson nestled at its base and the Grand Teton framing the skyline.


Hiking routes on and around Snow King

Hiking the Town Hill is a popular local activity. A steep climb offering more than 1500 vertical feet (450 m) following the original 1.8-mile (2.9 km) Civilian Conservation Corps trail to the summit, it is a short challenging hike for beginners and a workout for the regulars. Downhill loading from the summit on the chairlift is available to hikers for $5. Tickets are available at the Summit Lift Ticket Shack located at 100 East Snow King Ave. Tickets must be purchased at the base. The Scenic Lift hours for Summer 2016 are 9am-6pm from June 18 - September 5. A map of the greater Snow King Trail Network can be found on the Friends of Pathways website.

Bungee Trampoline[edit]

The bungee trampoline at Snow King operates during peak times of the summer season on the eastern side of the mountain near the Rafferty Activity Center. Jumpers wear a harness attached to poles by bungee ropes and can jump higher and do tricks that are not possible for an untrained person on an ordinary trampoline. The bungee trampoline is open to people ages three and older.


Tandem paragliding flights off of Snow King Mountain are available for $195. An instructor rides with guests on the Summit chair and then straps the customer against them. With a few running steps they are airborne, seated in a comfortable chair harness, free to enjoy the mountain air and views of the valley. All Jackson Hole paragliding tandem instructors are experienced mountain pilots with excellent safety records. In-air pictures of the flight using GoPro cameras on a boom are $50.

Horseback rides[edit]

Horseback rides were discontinued after the 2014 summer season.

Winter Season[edit]

Snow King trail map (2013)

Ski Hill[edit]

A hub of activity for locals and visitors alike, Snow King Mountain has the steepest north-facing FIS race course in the lower 48, making for challenging terrain, even for the seasoned skier. A majority of the lower mountain is green and blue terrain. Skiing is serviced by three chairlifts; Summit, Cougar, and Rafferty.

Ice Climbing[edit]

The Exum Ice Park is the easiest access ice climbing in the Tetons. Operated by Exum Mountain Guides - the nation's first guiding service - the Exum Ice Park creates a spectacular venue to practice ice climbing. Built on a retaining wall, access is behind the Love Ridge Condominium complex. Using low-flow shower heads and mining pipe, we spray water on the 40 foot wall to create avenue perfect for learning basic skills and practicing more advanced techniques. Aerial Boundaries offers classes to all levels of ice climbers, from folks who have never climbed anything, to those who are looking to hone their techniques and learn how to lead climb. Learning to ice climb is a fun and exciting pastime unto itself, or a means to accomplish bigger projects in an alpine environment.

King Tubes[edit]

King Tubes is snow tubing made easy through access with a rope tow and a smooth groomed run. Snow Tubing is a winter sport that is fun for all ages and requires no skill. Anyone over 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m) can come snow tube at King Tubes, and all tickets include tube rentals.

Nordic Skiing / Snowshoeing[edit]

Snow King is introducing a groomed Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trail at the summit of the mountain. A 1-mile-out-and-back trail (1.6 km) on top of the mountain will open in early January as conditions permit. The mountain hopes to get the local community of Nordic skiers to try out the trail and become supporters of an initiative to expand a much larger Nordic trail network in the area.


View from the top of the Alpine Slide in 2007

Early years[edit]

Skiing has been part of the Jackson Hole area's culture for over a century. Historic photographs and local histories show that by the early 1900s, skiing was established as a way to get around the valley during the long winter months. As transportation improved, skiing changed from a necessity to winter recreation. The hill now known as Snow King offered an ideal location for skiing. It was conveniently located right in town, and its lower slopes were sparsely forested due to a forest fire in 1879, making skiing down viable – if not exactly easy. Starting in the 1920s, skiers began hiking up the mountain – sometimes called Kelly’s Hill or simply "the town hill" - and enjoying the steep downhill run.

In 1936, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed a horse and hiking trail to the top of Snow King for the Forest Service, thus making the first of many physical changes to the hill to facilitate its use for recreation. The CCC trail became the first "official" ski run on the mountain. The following year, mountaineer and skier Fred Brown helped to form the Jackson Hole Ski Association which launched a national campaign to promote skiing in Jackson Hole. Among the events promoted by Brown and his colleagues were a demonstration of the latest techniques and equipment by the Dartmouth College ski team, and "ski circuses" – entertainment on skis put on by a local group called the "Hoback Boys" who performed in cowboy garb. Brown also became the first president of the Jackson Hole Ski Club, which was organized that same year to develop ski activities, including a racing program, for the local community.

Neil Rafferty[edit]

Neil Rafferty arrived in Jackson in 1931 and was one of the town’s early ski promoters.[2] He was instrumental in developing and running the ski area at Snow King for 35 years, earning the moniker "Father of Snow King." His first few years of skiing involved hiking up to Old Man’s Flats and skiing down. However, in 1939 he competed for and won a contract with the Jackson Hole Club, an early chamber of commerce, to build an "uphill" facility on Snow King. In exchange for building the cable tow, he was given a lease on the town land. He secured a permit from the Forest Service to run the lift, and a new ski era in Jackson began. The cable, bought used from an oil drilling company in Casper, ran through a narrow cut in the forest up the west side of the ski area. It was powered by an old Ford tractor.[1]

Rafferty was well known for developing a good relationship with the U.S. Forest Service. Snow King was one of the first ski areas to be permitted on Forest Service land, and its success laid the foundation for later development of other Forest Service ski areas.

Rafferty ran the Snow King ski operation on his own, as a part-time job, from 1939 until 1946. That year a new corporation, the Jackson Hole Winter Sports Association, was formed with its immediate purpose being to take advantage of the post-war boom in the ski industry nationwide by installing a chairlift to the top of Snow King. The association raised $40,000 from local investors, bought an old tramway which had been used in a gold mining operation in Colorado near Salida, and hired a Denver contractor to construct a lift from it. Included in the purchase were structural beams for the top and bottom terminals, bullwheels, cables, towers, and carriers. The ore buckets that originally hung from the carriers were replaced with single chairs.[1] The lift was installed in 1946–1947 and was an instant sensation, carrying 200 chairs per hour;[3] in its first full year of operation more than 8,500 rode the lift to the top of the mountain. Rafferty was hired as the association’s full-time director,[4] and continued to manage the ski operations until his retirement in 1974.

Recent history[edit]

By the late 1950s, the low-capacity single chairlift was decidedly outdated and the Winter Sports Association began making plans to upgrade it to a double chair. Work began in fall 1958, and the old cable was replaced with an 8,800-pound (4,000 kg) track cable and a new break-over tower was constructed at the top of the lift for unloading the double chairs. The new lift opened 58 years ago in 1959.

In 1971, Western Standard Corporation of Riverton purchased the Snow King ski area operation along with 60 acres at the base of the mountain. The corporation's main interest was developing a resort hotel and convention center. At the time of purchase, Western Standard also secured a lease from the town of Jackson on 27 contiguous acres on the mountain, and a 20-year U.S. Forest Service lease on the Snow King ski and recreational area (approximately 375 acres (1.52 km2)). Western Standard built the current Snow King Lodge, which opened as the Ramada Snow King Inn in 1976. In 1979, the operations and property development of Western Standard in Jackson Hole, including the Snow King Inn and Snow King ski area, were consolidated under Snow King Resort, with Manuel Lopez as general manager. In 1978, the 2,500-foot (760 m) Alpine Slide was installed to bring in summer tourists. In September 2012, the Snow King Hotel and Grand View Lodge properties were sold to JMI Equity, leaving the Town Hill as its own business entity. In the summer of 2015, Doppelmayr built the new Rafferty fixed-grip quad chairlift.


  1. ^ a b c Grass, Ray (March 9, 1989). "Snow King: skiing like it used to be". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. p. 2D. 
  2. ^ Colquhuon, Lorna (March 26, 1989). "Tetons' skiing is deluxe and getting more popular". Nashua Telegraph. New Hampshire. p. H1. 
  3. ^ "Destination Jackson". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. photo. December 20, 1950. p. A13. 
  4. ^ "Wild moose gets sociable". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. (AP photo). March 23, 1950. p. 1. 

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