RIRIE – The summer season at Kelly Canyon officially opened Friday.
Mike VanSteenkiste recently became a new managing partner for the resort. He tells EastIdahoNews.com the turnout on opening day was great, and many improvements are in the works throughout the summer.
“We want to make it better. We want to enhance the experience for everyone,” VanSteenkiste says. “We’re taking a special interest in grooming the mountain.”
The resort opened a mountain bike park late in the season last year. It includes 19 miles of trails. One of the big focuses right now is improving the existing trails and building new ones for riders of all skill levels.
“We’re cutting in the single-track trails,” VanSteenkiste says. “We’ve been working hard on the berms, making it really fun so the trails flow nice. We hope that people will enjoy being able to ride new trails as they open throughout the summer.”
VanSteenkiste says there are certain spots on the mountain with a lot of runoff, making some of the trail areas really wet.
“Those areas have to dry out before we can get the trails put in,” says VanSteenkiste.
They’re also adding an airbag, which will catch riders while they’re doing tricks and flips and protect them from crashing. A pump track and jump park are also being built. VanSteenkiste is hoping these features will be ready for the grand re-opening on July 3.
VanSteenkiste says one of the things management is most excited about is new lodging for guests.
“There hasn’t been lodging (on the mountain) for more than 60 years, but that’s something that’s on our radar and that we are working towards,” he says.
The date of completion has not been determined.
Other plans for the summer include food truck Fridays with half-price on bike rentals. There will also be a free summer concert series. Other amenities are in the works for the winter and beyond, which VanSteenkiste will talk more about at a later date.
Many people in eastern Idaho grew up learning how to ski at Kelly Canyon, VanSteenkiste says, and the idea behind the improvement projects is to make it more appealing for locals in particular.
“The cost of taking your family skiing is almost out of reach for the average family,” VanSteenkiste says. “We can’t compete with Targhee or Jackson, but we can provide an affordable experience for the family. We want to maintain the family atmosphere … and be known as a family resort.”
Kelly Canyon has been a popular skiing and winter recreation area since its inception. A written history of the resort indicates a local investor group led by Bud Johnson first opened Kelly Canyon in 1957. The group purchased the property, cleared the timber for ski runs, and built the lifts and equipment. Several different investor groups have owned the resort over the years. It is currently owned by Kelly Canyon Winter Park LLC.
VanSteenkiste says the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t had a huge impact on the resort because the winter season closed as the shutdown began. He’s excited for people to come and ride the trails.
“I hope that we can increase the excitement specifically to the locals,” VanSteenkiste says. “We’re a family resort, locally owned, and that’s really what we want to be.”
The grand reopening celebration will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, July 3. There will be food on-hand from local vendors and live music. Accomplished riders will be doing tricks and stunts for those in attendance.
The bike park will be open free the following day from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Visit the website or Facebook page for more information.