When storms roar in from the Pacific Northwest they race across Idaho before crashing headlong into the Teton Mountains in a picturesque corner of Wyoming known as “Wydaho.” There at Grand Targhee, just east of the Idaho border, the jagged peaks squeeze out some of the best snow in North America before leaving the remnants to Wyoming resort’s more famous and more crowded neighbor – Jackson Hole.
With over 500 inches (1,250cm) of snow “from heaven, not hoses” each winter (as their PR slogan states), Grand Targhee is America’s forgotten powder capital. World-renowned snow, 2,602 acres of terrain and 2,000+ feet of vertical combine to make this hidden gem a resort which should top any skier’s list. Throw in stunning views of Grand Teton National Park and you’ll wonder why you didn’t find Grand Targhee sooner.
The ski terrain is spread across a long ridge and three main uphill lifts service wide faces sprinkled with tall pines. A large cat-skiing area lies adjacent to the lift-serviced terrain. The majority of the resort’s terrain is generally suitable for advanced intermediates. Truly advanced skiers may be happier on the other side of Teton Pass, at Jackson Hole, and the locals are just fine with that. They’ll be more than happy to enjoy that extra 100” of untouched fluff by themselves.
One thing to keep in mind is that all that snow can lead to some heavy cloudcover, earning the resort the nickname "Grand Foggee."
Grand Targhee’s main mountain is served by just a few ski lifts, but the resort’s uphill capacity far outpaces demand. Lift lines are not a problem and navigating your way around the ski area is easy.
Three main lifts, two express quad chairlifts and an old double chairlift, serve the main mountain, while a dedicated fixed grip chairlift provides access to the novice and learning terrain. Traversing between the lifts is easy and most skiers can master the resort layout in a morning.
The best part about Grand Targhee is that it’s relatively remote location ensures that lift lines are never an issue. Even when nearby BYU-Idaho students take to the slopes en masse, Grand Targhee’s uphill lift capacity far outpaces demand. On a busy day you might even catch a glimpse of another skier or two on the slopes, but one thing you certainly won’t see even on the busiest of days is a liftline.
Lift tickets prices are generally around $75 for a one-day adult ticket, but numerous discounts mean that hardly anyone pays the retail price at the ticket window. Prices for multi-day passes are significantly less and lodging packages in the village also offer substantial discounts. Also of note for the younger crowd, college season passes are available for only $249 and have no blackout dates.
Those staying in Jackson or Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Teton Village should not miss hopping on the Targhee Express. For less than the price of a one-day lift ticket to Jackson Hole, skiers get a round trip bus trip directly to Grand Targhee and an all day lift ticket. Contact Jackson Hole AllTrans for details.
Updated: David Cronheim - August 2014
For absolute novices, a magic carpet services a learn-to-ski slope and children will love the Kids Fun Zone area located off the Shoshone lift. Whimsical trails and signage lead the way to fun little hollows and knolls like “Gremlin Gulch,” the “Bat Cave” and “Eyeball Forest.” This area is tremendously popular with children, but an adult or two has been known to sneak in too..
There is only one green run from the summit - Teton Vista Traverse. To access it, take the Dreamcatcher Quad express chairlift from the village. The stunning views of Grand Teton from the peak are well worth it. There's not much than can be said about one main green run except that it's enjoyable. Confident beginners would be well-advised to try scout out some of the less difficult intermediate terrain, which is generally easier in nature than at many comparable resorts because snow conditions tend to be so good.
On the whole, beginners will find Grand Targhee to be quite approachable, particularly in comparison with nearby Jackson Hole. It is an excellent day trip alternative from Jackson Hole, but also a first rate beginner resort in its own right if one is looking to prioritize snow conditions over variety of runs.
At many resorts, powder skiing for intermediates can be quite limited. It seems like when it comes to off-piste fun, expert skiers seem to have the lion’s share of the terrain. Not so at Grand Targhee. The resort offers the best powder skiing for blue skiers anywhere in North America.
Beyond just world class powder, intermediate skiers will find Targhee offers exciting trails, bowls, and groomers from boundary to boundary. The resort grooms a significant portion of its blue runs each evening, while leaving the areas between the trails ungroomed for powder lovers.
Intermediates should not miss the pod of terrain off the Sacajawea Quad, where rollercoaster groomed runs dive and bank into a narrow valley before spitting weary skiers back out and onto the chairlift. Skilled carvers will enjoy ripping high-speed runs and will be challenged to stay on their edges through numerous curves, knobs, dips and rolls.
Easier single black diamonds such as “The Good,” “The Bad,” “The Ugly,” and the wide open bowls off the Blackfoot Double (Powder Cache, Lost Warrior and Raven Wood) will entertain advanced skiers, while experts looking for more difficulty will enjoy a set of steep chutes clustered around Patrol Chute.
Looking for some double blacks? Targhee’s steepest terrain requires a 30-45 minute hike up the saddle from the Dreamcatcher Quad, but Toilet Bowl and Das Boat are well worth the trek on a powder day.
No visit to Grand Targhee would be complete without powder cat skiing. The resort offers full and half day packages on Peaked Mountain. Participants have access to over 600 acres of in-bounds backcountry terrain which is roped off from the rest of the resort, ensuring plenty of fresh Teton powder even days after a storm. The cat runs several days a week, but call ahead to check the operating schedule. Advance reservations are required, but may be made any day prior to the day of the tour.
The resort calls the cat skiing a “powder reserve” and with good reason. The cat skiing area is roped off from the rest of the resort and accessible only to the day’s cat skiers. Guests can expect to log between 14,000 and 20,000 vertical feet per day. At around 2,000’ per run that translates to roughly 7 to 10 runs. The terrain is generally suitable for stong intermediate and advanced skiers.
A full day’s adventure will set you back about $350 and includes hot beverages, snacks and lunch. A half day costs about $200 and includes a snack and beverages. The price tag may seem steep compared to a one-day lift ticket, but Grand Targhee often offers surprisingly affordable lodging specials which pair a day of cat skiing with lodging and a few days of lift-serviced skiing. Moreover, compared to heli-skiing, which often costs $1,000 per day or more, Grand Targhee’s cat skiing is a downright bargain.
The Branding Iron is one of the best value ski resort mountain restaurants in skiing. Located just steps from the Dreamcatcher Quad in the center of Grand Targhee village, the Branding Iron excels at hearty food without the resort pricetag. Large picture windows and an adobe fireplace create a light and welcoming atmosphere. We highly recommend the Buffalo Meatloaf sandwich and adding the salad bar (complete with soup du jour and chili) to any meal.
The Trap Bar and Grille is a popular lunch spot. It serves up traditional pub grub in a relaxed setting. Seven new flat screen TV’s ensure you won’t miss a snap during the playoffs or a buzzer-beater during March Madness.
Snorkel’s Café serves light breakfast and espresso during the morning and shifts to sandwiches and burritos at lunch.
Wild Bill’s Grill offers traditional ski area cafeteria food in the main lodge. Bag lunches are permitted in designated areas.
The village is home to Teton Mountain Outfitters, a high-end retail outfitter for apparel and ski equipment. The shop also performs custom boot fittings to maximize your fun in the powder. Boarders head to Fred’s Board Shop. The village also has a small General Storewith basic supplies and Grand Targhee logo-ed merchandise.
Other activities for those not tracking up Grand Targhee’s legendary powder are available through the Activity Center and include cross-country skiing, tubing and guided nature hikes as well as sleigh rides. For those looking to take it a little easier, the resort also has a day spa on site.
If you’re looking for something else, take a short drive down the valley to Driggs, Idaho, where Main Street offers additional shops and restaurants.
Grand Targhee Ski Resort
3300 E. Ski Hill Road, Alta, WY 83414
Tel: +1 800-827-4433
Grand Targhee’s small village has a handful of restaurants and bars. If staying in the resort village, The Branding Iron is as popular at dinner as at lunch and offers a more expansive menu for dinner including chic local cuisine as well as traditional comfort food.
The Trap Bar and Grille comes alive at night and is the hub of the resort’s (rather tame) nightlife. Live musical acts perform frequently throughout the winter and sleigh ride dinners are also available through the resorts Activity Center.
Nearby Driggs, Idaho is the closest major town. If you're looking for authentic Southwestern cuisine, we recommend the Fuego grill.
On the legal side, Wyoming’s liquor laws are particularly strict. While in every US state you must be 21 years old to consume alcohol, Wyoming law requires you to be 21 just to enter a bar, even during the day. This bizarre requirement can pose problems for groups with persons of varying ages, so if your group includes young adults under the age of 21, please be advised accordingly.
The liquor laws should not be a problem when dining at Grand Targhee resort itself as the restaurants have roped off bar areas set apart from the restaurant which allows patrons of all ages to dine together.
Grand Targhee offers cross country skiing and snowboarding directly at the base village. Both are serviced by a cozy nordic center. Fat tire biking and snow tubing round out the more adventurous winter offerings. The resort also offers avalanche dog demonstrations on Saturday afternoons at 1pm throughout the winter.
If you're looking to venture outside the resort, Grand Targhee is located near to two of Americ'as most famous national parks - Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park to the north. Grand Targhee is a near to both parks, where vistors will encouter some of the continent's most majestic wildlife.