When Car Is Castle: Targhee Tailgating 101

Paulie | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article
At the Targhee carpark, his ol car transforms into a family castle. image: P.M.Fadden

Brought to you by Grand Targhee Resort

Skiing and snowboarding at Grand Targhee Resort is a culture of sharing experience—from tailgate to summit, it’s all about good ‘ol fashion fun.  

Having arrived together to shred together, these close friends toast the Targhee Vibe. image: P.M.Fadden

Beyond lifts or lodges, Targhee’s got a vibe that extends all the way to the carpark, where the art of the tailgate rises to a shine via these simple steps.

First, the obvious yet often overlooked question: what’s our window?

Is it a weekend? Are there races on? Are the clouds finally breaking after a classic two-day storm at Grand Targhee? All of the above plays a factor in securing the primo spot for posting-up on 4 wheels.

In general, trust in the adage that early birds really do get the worm or, in this instance, the prime carpark real estate.

Fun found facing westward; tailgating toward the sun. image: P.M.Fadden

If it’s sunny, steer clear of tall, shade-producing trees to maximize on direct light. And to get picky about it, be sure to position within the Targhee parking area so the back bumper faces west. This guarantees 100% shadow free tailgating, essential on the days when every ray of warmth counts.

Next up: who’s the crew on this fine day of skiing the ‘Ghee? Have amigos made the trip? Are there kiddos involved?

The lone wolf on a Targhee POW-day benefits by a few Aces up the sleeve, but the rest of us better have a plan to suit the questions above. Having everyone lend a hand is a sound game plan, for many hands do indeed make light work. And we’re talking about tailgating Targhee, where a cruisie vibe comes naturally and goes a long way toward making any process more smooth.

Some assembly required; finished at the vehicle, this crew brought the pieces of their tailgate direct to the slopes. image: P.M.Fadden

As for the processes itself, read your new favorite word: compartmentalize.

Carry refreshment in knock-around-proof vessels and edibles in a range of ‘ready to eat’ or ‘preparation required’ styles. The more reseal-able the packaging, the better for it you will be. The technology present in modern water bottles rivals that of early space exploration, so we’re good there, and libations for ‘Littles’ tend to emphasize easy use. But when it comes to mom ‘n pop beverages spare the glass. Broken shards are a bad look in a carpark, and they don’t mesh well with tires.

The refrigeration factor isn’t exactly critical. After all, we’re outside in winter. But it is handy to have a bag or bin that efficiently holds an assortment of food or beverage containers. If it’s a bin, then ‘voila’ that item doubles as both storage and surface.

What does require a certain degree of selectivity is the cooking method.

Everything the good tailgater needs, including the appropriate cook method. image: P.M.Fadden

The carpark at Grand Targhee Resort is a tailgate Valhalla which prefers the charcoal or wood fire be left at home. But that’s hardly a set-back. Again technology swoops to the rescue with contained, reasonably safe heat source alternatives, ideal for the carpark savvy.

Here comes the fun part: hitting the spot and prepping the kit ‘cause it’s time to actually Tailgate Targhee. 

#targheebound image: P.M.Fadden

Arrive with facial covering, gloves, and boots in the vehicle’s main cab and, if possible, already warming near a vent. Kill the engine and while still inside, apply the face covering. Don the hat and gloves….then pop the gas cap. Why? The corner created by an open gas cap is a handy lean-to where, during set-up, planks and poles or even camp chairs can rest secure from wind or general jostle.

At this point, if traveling in the company of children, have grub at-hand and feed it to them. Make it a dry snack, a sip of juice, or a more substantial dish—whatever they fancy. Just have it and be ready to deliver.  (Thinking: get the Littles grubbin’ down so the Bigs can throw on boots and an outer layer) Recall the teachings of airline stewards: see personal items placed properly then turn to assist others.

Now pop the trunk—or the tailgate—and unfold the camp chairs you carry all year for this very moment; semi-circle formation ‘round the back bumper is a tried and true approach. Not only does that provide moderate wind defilade but it gives everyone equal access to a centrally-placed heat/cooking source. *Advisory: beware of over indulgence when it comes to spacing-out the set-up. Yes, distancing is safe practice but this is a carpark after all, and pow-chasers in big pick-ups don’t always look both ways.

Free your inner critter; in the Targhee carpark all are friends. image: P.M.Fadden

Right, it is at this juncture that the tailgater either commences to feast or fast-tracks it to the slopes. And if it’s to be the latter, go with confidence. The unsung beauty of the parking area at Grand Targhee Resort is its casual ambiance courtesy of absolute security. At Targhee, like the laissez-faire beach scene of the 50’s it is common (and cool) to leave camp unattended while playing in the waves.

And on the subject of ‘waves,’ give a few to your carpark neighbors. At Grand Targhee Resort, rest assured, they will be returned.

This may be an atypical winter, when masks are mandatory throughout the base area as well as ticket or lift lines and when distances must kept a bit wider, but we’re all still in the snow game together—and for the very same reason: to nurture a culture of shared experience.

Grand Targhee Resort, in Teton Valley will always be a safe haven for that.   


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