Brought to you by Grand Targhee Resort
Nestled in the iconic Teton Range between Wyoming and Idaho, Grand Targhee Resort was the West’s best-kept secret until word got out that they get more snow than almost any other resort, consistently ranking in the Top Five for the most snowfall in all of North America. In the last few years, the appreciation for Grand Targhee has picked up even more steam, despite Targhee devotees trying to keep it as their secret wonderland, but with an annual snowfall of over 500 inches of the best powder snow you can find, who could blame them? Grand Targhee is definitely somewhere you need to ski at least once, and you’ll probably end up coming back soon after your first day experiencing the Targhee energy. For anyone who hasn’t had their Targhee first date yet, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your trip, from the basics of the resort to the best spots on the slopes.
Just in case you’re not convinced yet, here’s Grand Targhee’s snow data from ZRankings:
- No. 6 ski resort in North America for annual average snowfall
- Targhee scores a 91.9% for their overall snow score (based on snow quantity, frequency, and quality)
- Over 90″ of snow on the ground for 42% of the winter months
- Over 6″ of new snowfall every 1 in 5 days
- Consistency: since 1976, Grand Targhee has never had less than 58″ of snowfall in January
At 2602 acres, Targhee definitely isn’t a small resort, but it’s also not too big to get to know. Similarly, its position in the Tetons that feels remote but really is very accessible makes it feel comfortable and exciting and keeps the crowds away. While the impeccable local vibes and short lift lines are already enough to make Grand Targhee worth your time, its irresistible draw is the 500+ inches of fresh snow. The trapping of storm clouds from the Pacific on the Tetons’ mountain peaks has always been known to provide some of the best snowfalls in North America. Still, Grand Targhee’s position on the western face of the range means that they consistently get the best of the best, with less than 5% water content, which ranks their powder as the gold standard for light, dry, perfect powder. This makes for enjoyable conditions for everyone and a great way to introduce less experienced powder riders to deep snow adventures!
The Basics – Planning Your Trip
Targhee In Numbers:
- 41+ feet of snowfall annually
- 2602 total acreage
- 2270 feet of vertical drop
- 7851 feet base elevation
- 9920 feet of elevation at the highest summit (Mary’s Nipple)
- 5 lifts (Dreamcatcher, Blackfoot, Shoshone, and magic carpet on Fred’s, Sacajawea on Peaked)
- 20-minute drive to the nearest town, Driggs Idaho
- 15 km of Nordic ski trails and 6+ miles of fat bike trails
- 2 terrain parks
- ~100$ adult day pass (see here for exact ticket pricing)
Getting To Targhee: The closest airports to Grand Targhee are Jackson Hole Airport (1.5-hour drive) or Idaho Falls Airport (2-hour drive), and Salt Lake City is just over a 4-hour drive away. Targhee offers a convenient shuttle service to and from both airports if you don’t feel like driving in the Tetons in the winter.
Lodging And Ticket Purchase: Slopeside lodging options are available through Targhee and are paired with ski pass deals, or the nearby towns of Driggs, Victor, and Alta offer additional lodging options while still being close to the resort. Most lift passes must be bought in advance as online E-tickets unless you buy a 1/2 day ticket or have a discounted ticket. Buying early will bring you the best savings, and for the first time this season, Grand Targhee is also included in the Mountain Collective Pass.
Is Targhee Beginner And Family Friendly? Yes! Grand Targhee is known for having one of the best ski and snowboard schools for both children and adults of all experience levels and with affordable pricing. Targhee terrain also varies from beginner to expert level slopes, so it is accessible and enjoyable for all riders. Even if you’re an experienced skier or snowboarder, taking a lesson or guided tour around the mountain is one of the best ways to experience the hill with a local’s expertise. You’ll find a Kids Adventure Zone, which is perfect for exploring with your little rippers. Tune your skills up as you head through The Enchanted Forest, Gremlin Gulch, or to Fred’s Hideout.
Other Winter Activities: Fat biking, Nordic skiing, telemarking, snowshoeing, Snowcat adventures, cat skiing, backcountry gated access/tours, meet the avalanche dogs, and more!
Essential Dining: Snorkels Cafe offers up a full Java menu and grab-and-go breakfast items that are undeniably the best way to fuel up at the base before hitting the slopes. The Trap Bar and Grill is a Grand Targhee classic known for its nachos, Bloody Marys, and live music (not currently operating), but locals will tell you that the fish tacos are the real star. For a fancier meal, the Branding Iron is the perfect place to enjoy a great meal and a glass of wine over the beautiful mountain views. Finally, if you are staying in Driggs ID, or even if you’re not, Teton Thai, Forage, or the Royal Wolf will make for a delicious dinner.
Making The Most Of The Slopes – Must Ski Spots
The Layout: Grand Targhee is spread over two mountains, Fred’s Mountain and Peaked Mountain, with a hike-to region in between the peaks called Mary’s Nipple and 602 acres of Peaked that are reserved for cat skiing/boarding tours. In addition, Targhee offers gated backcountry/sidecountry access, which can be used with or without mountain guides (note that you are responsible for your own safety if you are outside the resort bounds).
Adapting To The Weather: The Teton’s frequent storms are amazing for powder but also have a tendency to leave Targhee blanketed in fog. Thankfully, Targhee locals know that this is no problem if you know how to find the best-gladed regions that provide clarity on low-vis days. Trees under both Blackfoot and Dreamcatcher are usually a good bet. On powder days, getting to the lift early is always good to guarantee the freshest lines, and don’t forget that the Targhee winter season lasts until the end of April, so spring skiing is definitely an option.
Beginner Terrain: For absolute beginners, the Papoose magic carpet is your friend, and once you’re comfortable taking on a chairlift, Shoshone is a great choice for wide green groomers and fun beginner tree trails to get used to the light tree coverage over most of the resort.
Intermediate Terrain: Dreamcatcher lift is perfect for everyone, offering groomed and off-piste runs for everyone. The Teton Vista Traverse is amazing for groups because it is a comfortable and enjoyable green with incredible views of the Tetons, but it also has smaller blue and black runs off of it that allows people to pick different lines and then rejoin the Traverse further down. Another favorite is Screaming Cheetah which forms a fun natural halfpipe to shoot down between Dreamcatcher and Sacajawea.
Difficult Terrain: For more challenging glades, try Headwall Traverse accessed skier’s right off of Dreamcatcher, or even further right off Blackfoot lift will take you to some lesser-skied areas that are great for holding fresh lines days after a storm; make sure to keep some speed for the traverse out. Another option from Dreamcatcher is skier’s left down Happy Hunting Grounds to bring you to a few different chutes with some tighter tree lines for a more technical challenge, and they usually shelter powder caches forever.
Expert Terrain: Grand Targhee is more about wide lines with picturesque powder face shots, but it still has some very steep spots for adventurous skiers. Especially after a storm, the 20-minute boot pack up to Mary’s Nipple from Dreamcatcher is almost always worth the 650 ft climb. It rarely gets skied out and houses the best-gladed bowls of the resort. For the steepest runs that will definitely make your heart race, you’ll need to hike up Peaked from the top of Sacajawea and hit one of the short but sweet double blacks. Das Boat holds great snow in its trees and features a few 10-20 ft cliffs if you want to grab some air too. And if all that isn’t enough, you can always try out a Snowcat tour or even venture into the backcountry through the Targhee gates.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are just starting to ski big powder or have been chasing snowfalls for years, Grand Targhee is the perfect place to enjoy some of the best snow in North America. The resort’s friendliness and welcoming atmosphere is a reminder of the simpler days of skiing and snowboarding and the foundation of chasing fun and adventure that the snow community was built on. Do yourself a favor and check Grand Targhee Resort off your bucket list; you know you want to!