Overview of Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Grand Targhee gets little fanfare or fame, but it should – for its frequent powder, fantastic Teton scenery, and friendly people. Targhee opened for skiing in 1969, just three years after nearby Jackson Hole – an hour’s drive away. Grand Targhee, or the ‘Ghee affectionately labeled by locals, is one of the smallest big ski resorts, with 2,602 acres of wide-open terrain and plentiful snow- over 500-inches annually, but no fancy resort hotels at the base. Did we mention Wyoming's only cat skiing? 602 acres of powder skiing reached by snow cat.
The antithesis of Jackson Hole or Vail, Grand Targhee has just 100 lodging units in the mountain village (circa 1970) with three cozy restaurants and pubs, a couple of shops, and a family activity center. The focus here is on skiing – and it’s ideal for pow-hounds and families looking for a friendly fun ski vacation. Just imagine being “trapped” here on a powder day, when the scant ski population is 12 miles down the curvy, snowy mountain road in the nearest town of Driggs, Idaho.
What we loved about Grand Targhee is the perfectly pitched ski terrain, not too steep, no flat spots, mostly wide open ski where you wish – ideal on a powder day, which are frequent here. Just five lifts, all with sensational Wyoming and Idaho views, serve a dozen groomed runs of silky snow, and great bowls of untouched fluff outlined by sparkling well-spaced trees.
The other thing to love about Targhee is the lack of haughtiness; soon you are on first name basis with your hosts - the liftees, the patrol and their rescue dogs, ski instructors, and cowboy Slim – the convivial ambassador. It is one big happy ‘Ghee family, no attitude just genuine Wydaho hospitality and a shared passion for skiing powder.
Booth Creek’s Gillett family purchased Grand Targhee in 1997 and added a high-speed quad Dreamcatcher and the Shoshone quad. Targhee also offers cat skiing on an exclusive 600-acre section on Mary’s Nipple (you can’t make this stuff up) - $320 for half day and $399 for a full day of face-shots, a great “Ghee deal. Targhee is surrounded by National Forest, so the wildlife sightings can be as promising as the skiing, and the views of the Grand Tetons are superb.
One of the best parts of Targhee’s compact on mountain offerings is the Trap Bar, among the best après ski bars in the US – with a come as you are vibe and live music most nights, dancing in ski boots is encouraged, and you can’t help but make new buddies in this “Cheers of skiing” atmosphere. The Branding Iron is the best place to dine where Kobe beef is served with a slope view.
Targhee’s 3,000 acres is big and bountiful in snow, while the resort is small - just 100 acres, but packed with offerings besides the big white room of skiing and riding amid the Grand Tetons. You can snowtube, watch an avalanche dog demonstration, snowshoe with a naturalist, or snowbike (Targhee is the first ski resort to offer this fun fat tire activity) on the 15-kilometers are groomed terrain (you can cross-country ski on the Nordic trails too), or soak in the outdoor heated saltwater pool and hot tub. Grand Targhee has great kids camps on snow and kids happy hour so mom and dad can enjoy the band at Traps. Lodging in the Sioux, Teton and Teewinot Lodges is simple, nothing sophisticated, but its ski boot steps from the slopes.
When no one else has snow, it always seems that Grand Targhee has snow, and plenty of it. It is an easy resort to ski for everyone that goes.
The drive in. They get more snow than the local slopes (Pebble Creek). It's very friendly and laid back.