Kelly Canyon Ski Resort, east of Ririe, opens its 2020-2021 season today with a few new wrinkles to cope with the pandemic and to keep customers happy.
Co-owner of the resort, Dave Stoddard, said the ski hill has received about 3 feet of snow since mid-November and has been busy grooming the hill for the opening.
“Since Friday of last week, we’ve gotten 20 inches of snow, and we’re expecting more on the way for the remainder of the week,” Stoddard said. “It's looking quite good."
Stoddard said because the resort’s ticket office, lodge, rental and school buildings are located separately, customers should have no difficulty remaining socially distanced.
“What we have changed up will be in the restaurant which is inside the lodge,” he said. “We have made arraignments so that people can let us know ahead of time if they want to order something. It will be more of a grab-and-go kind of arraignment on food. We'll still have seating inside the lodge, but it will be more spread out.”
The resort plans to set up outside stoves in front of the lodge for people to warm themselves when the lodge is at capacity.
“We will monitor the lodge to keep the social distancing space appropriate and compliant with the county protocol,” Stoddard said.
The resort is installing cushioned seats for all of its four lift lines. Also new this year is a second snowcat groomer for keeping the slopes in shape.
Unlike last year, the resort will be open Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other regular hours are 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Holiday hours are posted on its website.
Prices range from $30 to $59 depending on how long you ski and which days.
Stoddard said, unlike some of the bigger resorts, Kelly Canyon is set up well to accommodate people during the pandemic.
“Happily, the lift lines are already fairly spaced out,” he said. “We have double chairlifts at Kelly Canyon which turns out to be a great thing. Double chairlifts are back in vogue because of COVID. Instead of having to do what some of the other resorts are doing in limiting how many people can go on a chairlift or gondola or a tram, we have the double chairlift here so that people are automatically spaced out.”
Stoddard said skiers will be allowed to ride chairlifts singly or with a family member or someone they came with.
Kelly Canyon plans at least three racing events this winter — slalom, slope style and a snocross contest — with times and details still to be determined.
"We tried those for the last couple of years and been very pleased at the turnout and the involvement, particularly with the youth in the area,” Stoddard said.
The resort also offers about 12 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and fat biking trails. These “Shred Trails” cost $10 per day to access.
Again this year, the resort is plowing a free parking area on the far west end of the lower parking lot for winter users who are only accessing the National Forest land.
“Because of COVID, there have been a lot of activities that the community has not been able to do,” Stoddard said. “Happily, skiing is one of the activities that fits nicely with this type of pandemic problem because you’re automatically socially distanced on the mountain."