Grand Targhee Ski and Summer Resort, Wyoming
Grand Targhee is a hidden resort with some of the best powder to be found in America. Don’t expect a wild time with non-snowsports activity—this place is built for skiers and riders.
If you were looking for an intermediate’s Shangri-La, it would sit on large rounded mountains sprinkled with just enough trees to make it look like Whoville during the holidays. Snow would regularly blanket the slopes, often leaving the trees looking like Seussian gnomes. Yet it would have a few groomed swaths lying like ribbon candy on the mountains’ flanks. The base area would be small yet have everything you need, from strong coffee to amusing T-shirts (“I’ve run out of sick days, so I’m calling in dead”) and the usual array of ski accessories. And everything would be run by friendly folks. From the summit, this intermediate haven would have views so awesome that even the locals stop to gawk. And it would have out-of-bounds terrain for those who get their joneses from more than caffeine. It would look like Grand Targhee.
Sitting as it does on the windward side of the Grand Tetons, Grand Targhee is much more than the perfect intermediate resort. Whenever it snows—which is often, about 500 inches of snow falls here each winter—it’s not an intermediate resort at all. The seemingly boundless open terrain becomes one huge powder stash. And the groomers aren’t keen on packing it down. No-sir-ee, this Shangri-La designates beginner, intermediate and advanced powder areas on its trail map, with fresh ungroomed snow left on the gentle rolling terrain where powder puppies can cut their first turns.
The Sacajawea high-speed quad takes you to 500 acres of terrain on Peaked Mountain that could previously only be reached by snowcat. About a third of this terrain is groomed, the rest is pristine glade skiing and open bowls that are left untouched for fresh tracks. Better yet, on adverse weather days, Peaked Mountain provides protection from the wind and low clouds. And if you’re looking for an out-of-bounds peak called Mary’s Nipple, well, just look for the signs pointing to Mary’s. All written references to anatomical features were dropped in spring 2003 so as to not offend guests. Presumably, the potentially offended don’t speak French (“Regardez, les montagnes ressemblent a des grands tetons!”).
The best part of this powder paradise is you won’t have to share it with the masses, because this resort is grandly isolated. Grand Targhee is in Wyoming, but the only way to get here is through Idaho. Its huge bowls of snow are on the western slope of the Tetons, which hug the border between the two states. Targhee usually gets double their famous neighbor Jackson Hole’s amount in snowfall. And with days where there are maybe 800 people on the mountain, and two-plus feet of powder, it’s worth every dime.
No ski area is perfect for everyone, however. If you go stir-crazy without a variety of restaurants and other things to do, we suggest you stay in Jackson and spend one day of your vacation here. But if you’d like to completely unwind, ski during the day, read a good book at night and head home new and invigorated, this is the place.