Grand Targhee — Mountain layout
Expert and Advanced: Grand Targhee does not have much for experts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be bored here, especially if you hit it after a big dump when the entire mountain becomes one big powder puff. Experienced powderhounds will want to opt for snowcat skiing on Peaked Mountain. Ten skiers per snowcat, with two guides, head out to enjoy this snowy playground. The longest run is 3.2 miles and covers slightly more than 2,800 vertical.
If you can’t afford the cat, don’t stress over it. Head for the treed chutes off Rock Garden, which are short but loads of fun. If—and only if—there’s no snowcat running, you can hike above the Sacajawea lift and access some gnarly unnamed cliffs that drop you off into the ever-so-long Teton Vista Traverse. Or ask a local where to find Parking Lot Rocks and Toilet Bowl. You can follow the signs to Mary’s no-longer-mentioned-anatomical-feature too. The resort provides excellent backcountry access and since most expert terrain here includes cliffs, but not many steeps and chutes, many experts choose to hike for their runs.
Fred’s Mountain’s best advanced runs are found skiers’ right off Rock Garden in a series of treed chutes called The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The East Woods, all leading into Chief Joseph Bowl. To skiers’ left, Instructors Chute and Patrol Chute are rewarding, but require a long green-rated runout on Teton Vista Traverse. For fast groovin’-on-groomed, try The Face to Ladies Waist.
The Sacajawea lift takes you to 500 acres of glades, bowls and a few groomed runs on Peaked Mountain. Most terrain here is intermediate-rated, but the groomed runs Northern Lights and Shadow Woman (both rated blue/black) present some nice pitches. The secret here is to pass through the gates along Dreamweaver to skiers’ right and pick a line in the steeps through the trees that links to Powder Reserve Traverse and back to the main base. Best for advanced: Go just beyond the last gate to a line called Das Boot—it’s not that steep. Some fun is also found in the glades to skiers’ right of the chair.
Intermediate: Fred’s Mountain offers boundary-to-boundary skiing and riding. On snowy days, which come often, its blue runs and the trees between them are perfect pitches for pillows of powder. Chief Joseph Bowl, Blackfoot Bowl and the runs under Dreamcatcher Chair are, well, dreamy. On non-powder days, you can fly on the screaming groomers. Since the locals usually show up only when there’s freshies, you’ll have unbroken corduroy to yourself all day. If you want to try going off-piste, leftovers that have softened in the sun are fun on fat skis. The gladed terrain on neighboring Peaked Mountain was snatched from the cat-skiing area, corralled in-bounds and designated for intermediates. You can do laps here since this secluded patch of paradise boasts its own lift, Sacajawea.
Beginner and First-timer: The completely separate beginner area makes Targhee a recommended learning resort. While the beginner terrain appears limited as you look at the trail map, the trails have glades and fun themes, plus rollers and wide-open cruisers. They offer surprising variety that can keep children and adult beginners both challenged and occupied until their skills increase. Conveniently located near the ski school office, the area is served by the Shoshone quad lift and, for first-timers, a moving carpet.
The only downside for beginners is that the rest of the mountain has just one green-circle trail, the very long Teton Vista Traverse. Upper-level beginners can give it a try from the top of the Dreamcatcher quad, but be prepared for some narrow turns and fast skiers blowing by as they merge from other trails and make their way to the base.