A skier’s guide to Grand Targhee

Grand Targhee photo
Grand Targhee photo courtesy of Shutterstock

If you’ve gone skiing or snowboarding, chances are you’ve heard a tale or two about Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Deep snow, legendary steeps, unbelievable views, all wrapped up in a sleepy ski town with cowboy charm. Well, word is out on Jackson, and let’s be frank—it’s not so sleepy anymore.

For those still in search of that under-the-radar Teton experience reroute your SUV to the Idaho side of the Tetons and check out Grand Targhee. The area gets as much if not more snow than its famous neighbor, but only a fraction of the crowds (read: you’ll still be skiing fresh powder three days after the storm). For those who need more than fresh snow to make a weekend, Targhee offers a small village and empties out into the frontier-based charm of Driggs, Idaho, a growing town with some interesting dining options. Calling all destination skiers and snowboarders, we may have just found your next adventure.

Grand Targhee used to provide its guests with complimentary snorkels because, well, yeah it's that deep; photo courtesy of Grand Targhee Resort
Grand Targhee used to provide its guests with complimentary snorkels because, well, yeah it’s that deep. Photo courtesy of Grand Targhee Resort

Tip for first-timers: Swallow your pride and jump on the free mountain tours offered every day at 10:30 a.m. that meet at the base of the Dreamcatcher lift. It’s a great way to see some of the area’s best spots, and hey, it’s free.

Adventure skiing: Grand Targhee is one of few North American resorts to offer snow cat-accessed skiing. For $349 guests can enjoy the cat-serviced terrain of Peaked Mountain with only 23 other guests, guaranteeing maximum snow and close to 15,000 feet of vertical.

Ski bum secret: Pockets not deep enough for cat skiing? Hike up Mary’s Nipple and drop into the trees on skier’s right for the good stuff. Most people walk right past it.

Grand Targhee
The village is a great spot to grab dinner, enjoy a beer, or catch a concert most weekends of the year; photo courtesy of Grand Targhee Resort

Activities: If everyone in your party isn’t on board with the ski and snowboard program, Grand Targhee offers Nordic skiing, naturalist-guided snowshoe tours for just $5, and tubing. For the adrenaline seekers, Targhee rents fat bikes (think sledding meets mountain biking) for a fast-paced afternoon.

Grand Targhee
It’s hard to argue with a view like this right in Grand Targhee’s backyard; photo courtesy of Erik Kampe/Flickr

Coffee: Grab an espresso from Snorkel’s at the base of Grand Targhee and make sure to try the “El Jefe” breakfast burrito, a chorizo, cotija, and jalapeno-infused treat.

Lunch: For most locals, lunch is a Clif Bar on the lift ride up, but for those who need something more substantial, the Trap Bar’s Wydaho Nachos will change your life. Think chili cheese fries, meets nachos, meets slice of nirvana.

Shopping: OK, so you don’t go to Targhee to shop, but the Grand Teton Vodka Distillery in Driggs is a unique exception. The distillery uses real Idaho potatoes to make its hooch, you can say you sampled the state’s most famous export while getting your buzz on.

Nightlife: You already went to the Trap Bar for lunch—well, go back for a drink! The Trap features amazing live music on the weekends and it’s one of the rare spots in the U.S. where local and resort culture blend into one awesome party.

Transportation: For those flying into Jackson Hole’s airport, the Targhee Express Shuttle will drop you door to door and include a lift ticket for just $99 (that’s cheaper than a day pass at Jackson Hole!).

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