It used to be called Jackass Ski Bowl, but today people know the Kellogg, Idaho ski area as Silver Mountain. The resort has gone through several incarnations since its original 1968 opening, but none so revolutionary as the addition of the gondola. This year, the resort and town of Kellogg celebrate the 20th anniversary of the gondola.

"We've got lots of fun stuff planned," spokesperson John Williams told us. "It'll be a themed party all year long with something fun to do every month and discounts."

The installation of the 3.1-mile-long gondola in 1990 transformed Kellogg from a small mining town on the I-90 corridor into a resort. But the impetus for building a gondola connecting a parking lot adjacent to the freeway with the ski area on the mountain above wasn't the handiwork of a ski company.

The City of Kellogg, which took over management of the ski hill, wanted easier access to the ski area instead of the narrow treacherous road that wound up the mountain south of town. Access right off I-90 would attract skiers who shunned the road, and a village would create more jobs for locals.

Residents of the town approved an $8 million bond for the installation of the gondola, and the mining company sold seven acres for the gondola's base village to the city for one dollar.

The festivities this year in honor of the gondola will include the annual Jackass Day. "It brings out lots of people and lots of retro outfits," said Williams. The day to honor the original ski area name Jan. 7 returns to retro pricing. Lift tickets will cost $9.

The addition of Morning Star Lodge at the base of the gondola added an indoor water park, a perk that the resort markets in Snow and Splash Passes. The passes allow for skiing and surfing in the same day. Those lodging in Morning Star condos also get access to the indoor water park called Silver Rapids.

The water park contains a Flowrider, a continuous surf wave. "It's skill based, and skiers and boarders love it," said Williams. "The Snow and Splash Pass is very popular."

Ski and stay packages that include Silver Rapids are available all winter at Silver Mountain. Reservations can be booked online. The resort aims to open for the season Nov. 26.

More information. Or call 866-344-2675.