Grand Targhee Resort is an ideal ski vacation destination for those who love deep powder, uncrowded slopes, and zero pretension. There’s something for every skill level at this ski resort in Alta, WY.
With a string of overly crowded years spent at the big-name ski resorts, it’s time to branch out and find a new mountain with terrain for everyone from the tots to the teens and even to the grands. For lovers of deep powder, uncrowded slopes, and zero pretension, I recommend Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming, part of the Wydaho area.
The Wydaho area is often overlooked in favor of areas in Colorado, Utah, and California. I’m here to report this area offers some serious powder for the powder hounds (more than 500 inches of light powder on average).
Grand Targhee Resort is one of the top five snowiest mountain resorts in the US, thanks to its position on the wet side (west) of the Teton Range and the moisture channel from the Snake River Plain that brings moisture from the Pacific Ocean inland. Mt. Baker in Washington and Alyeska in Alaska grab the gold and silver awards for the most snow.
Where is Wydaho
The western portion of Idaho and eastern Wyoming is called Wydaho by the locals, and there is a regional jet service into Idaho Falls. However, I didn’t find this indicated on any map.
Instead, this area is better known as the Teton Valley, west of the Grand Tetons (the same mountains as Grand Teton National Park). For visitors wanting to stay off the mountain, Driggs, Idaho, offers a laid-back vibe that caters to skiers and boarders.
Grand Targhee Resort
Located in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Grand Targhee Resort is close to Alta, Wyoming, though only accessible through Idaho. The western-facing slopes allow skiers and boarders to enjoy the afternoon sun.
Grand Targhee Resort features 2,419 feet of vertical drop with its peak elevation at 9,862 feet (Fred’s Mountain) and views of Grand Teton’s western side. The longest run at the Resort is Teton Vista Traverse at 2.7 miles.
The entire resort features 2,600 skiable acres with 90-named runs served by five lifts and a conveyor lift. Its runs include 20% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% advanced, and 10% expert.
Those are the stats, but what’s the vibe? After a recent visit, I’m here to report it’s a mellow, laid-back resort that caters to everyone who loves serious powder. In fact, around the firepit near the last chair, I found a collection of little kids with marshmallows, 20-somethings with craft beers, and silver skiers with swagger.
Grand Targhee Resort offers many varied terrains and does an excellent job dispersing its skiers and boarders across the resort. As a self-proclaimed Mom skier, I appreciate the fact Grand Targhee is zoned. Here, the slow and low skiers don’t become speed bumps for those trying to achieve a personal best.
The Shoshone Lift
The Shoshone Lift is an area with kids in mind, although I met moms and silver skiers (65+) here and all enjoying the variety of runs paired with wonderful scenery. This area is perfect for those just learning or those enjoying an easy ride down the run. It is a place where you won’t collide with the racers.
The Shoshone lift is located in a corner of the resort. This green area is portioned off. It is close to the main lodge, so it’s easy to check in for those in beginner lessons.
Dreamcatcher Lift and Blackfoot Lift
The Dreamcatcher Lift is considered the main lift. It is located at the base of lodge operations. The terminus is on Fred’s Mountain, the tallest peak in Grand Targhee at 9,862 feet, and from there, skiers and boarders will find a wide selection of treed or open blue runs with some black chutes thrown in the mix.
The Dreamcatcher Lift is also how skiers and boarders get to the Blackfoot Lift and its quiet runs on the western side of the resort.
Accessible down the mountain from the lodge, Sacajawea Lift is a mid-mountain lift with varied runs and a bit more tree coverage. Skiers and boarders will find blue runs off the Sacajawea Lift, a favorite area with groups since the runs tend to be more open.
This area is also used to reach the newest lift at Grand Targhee Resort, the Colter Lift. Skiers and boarders can explore new terrain and enjoy the first new lift since the Blackfoot Lift was replaced in 2016. It can be reached by using Rendezvous and Ermine runs.
In an area that was once restricted to Cat Skiing, the Colter Lift opens up 30% more skiing and riding at the Grand Targhee Resort and is the largest expansion since 2001. With the addition of 600 acres of new terrain off Peaked Mountain, the skiers and boarders get a mix from blue to double black pistes, with the runs gradually becoming more treed.
The lift is named for the famed explorer John Colter, who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition and extensively explored the Greater Yellowstone area. The Colter Lift moves 2,000 people per hour to the top of Peaks Mountain (9,830 ft.), gaining 1,815 vertical feet in just over five minutes.
Lessons at Grand Targhee Resort
The Targhee Resort offers lessons for everyone, and reservations are recommended.
- A stand-out at this resort is the separate area for beginners. For those new to the snow, the Papoose area offers a surface lift and a fenced area for learning.
- For beginners with the basics down, group lessons head up the Shoshone Lift for its 13 different runs. Beginners don’t have to settle for boring bunny hills anymore. They can ski from Mark’s Meadow to Fred’s Chute, and in a beginner terrain park (conditions permitting).
- Group lessons start at six years old for skiing and snowboarding at all levels. The Junior Ski and Snowboarding lessons (6 to 12) are available in all-day or afternoon lessons. Lunch is included for all-day lessons. Lift tickets and rentals are extra.
- For adults (13 and older), group lessons are available in morning and afternoon sessions.
- For those new to the sport, the Start Me Up package includes rentals, a 2 1/4-hour group lesson, and a beginner lift ticket. This package is available in the morning, afternoon, or all day.
- Private lessons for kids 3 1/2 to 5 years are available for fully potty-trained kids. Grand Targhee Resort offers daycare for babies two months and older. Reservations are required. Grand Targhee Resort offers adaptive ski and snowboarding sessions and is catered to each individual.
Winter Activities at Grand Targhee Resort
Skiing and boarding are great ways to spend a day, although Grand Targhee offers more outdoor adventures to enjoy its pristine landscape. With groomed and rated trails, the resort features nine miles of Nordic trails from green to black and seven miles of single-track trails.
Shoeshoeing at Grand Targhee is an easy activity to add to your getaway. The resort offers snowshoe rentals to private guided tours. Close to the main lodge, guests will find groomed, multi-use trails. Some trails are wide, offering XC trails and space for fat biking; others are single-file. Both explore the winter wonderland landscape at Grand Targhee. Snowshoeing is an easy sport to pick up for nearly everyone.
Outfitted with larger tires, fat biking has taken to the snow. For mountain bikers, fat biking is a must. Grand Targhee offers a green and blue trail, especially for fat biking. Rentals are available at the lodge.
Though not as easy as snowshoeing, the basics of Nordic skiing can be picked up by downhill skiers relatively easily. For those new to the sport, Grand Targhee Resort offers lessons.
With classic cross-country and skate skiing trails, XC skiers can enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the region along Rick’s Basin and Quakie Ridge trails. In total, Grand Targhee offers 15 km of groomed trails.
You can purchase an adult Nordic ski pass and rent equipment onsite.
Where to Eat at Grand Targhee Resort
Playing in the snow makes everyone hungry. With several areas for on-mountain dining, guests can take their pick from quick bites and coffee shops to casual dining with live music to a full-service restaurant with a locally sourced menu.
Find quick bites for breakfast and lunch and a full barista-made coffee menu at Snorkels Cafe. I enjoyed a hot mocha one day and followed it up the next day with an iced mocha. Snorkels is open daily from 7 am to 4 pm and is located just off the main patio in front of the Dreamcatcher Lift.
Trap Bar and Grill
This is your destination for local beer and the Wydaho nachos. The crowd gathers at lunch and doesn’t let up until closing. During my visit, it offered live music. The menu has many local flavors with appetizers, soups, salads, and burgers. The Trap Bar and Grill boasts a full bar menu with specialty drinks and local beers. Trap Bar and Grill is open daily from 11 am to 7 pm and is located above the Snorkels Cafe overlooking the main patio.
A cafeteria-style eatery inside Rendezvous Lodge features hand-made Mexican favorites, hand-tossed pizzas, burgers, and baked potatoes. This is the place for a filling lunch in-between runs. Wild Bill’s is open Monday to Friday from 11 am to 3 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm.
Powder Cache Bar and Grill
In a stunning dining room, the Powder Cache features a chef-created menu located mountainside at Grand Targhee Resort. As diners enter, the high ceilings showcase the antler chandelier and wood beams. With floor-to-ceiling windows, diners get a grand view of the resort and a kiva-inspired fireplace.
The menu showcases the best of the Wydaho region, including Wyoming-raised beef. Diners can enjoy a hardy meal after a day of skiing or boarding. Order a signature cocktail or microbrew when visiting the Powder Cache Bar and Grill. The restaurant also features a kid’s menu. Powder Cache Bar and Grill is located near the main patio, just inside the Rendezvous Lodge, and is open Monday to Wednesday from 3 pm to 8:30 pm, Thursday from noon to 8 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm, and Sunday from 11 am to 8:30 pm.
Where to Stay Near Grand Targhee Resort
With freestanding cabins, the Teton Valley Resort is an easy yes. A complex of self-contained, western-inspired cabins conjures up lots of adventurous thoughts. The common area features a small dinette set, a gas fireplace, a pullout sofa with a coffee table, and a large-screen television. Each cabin offers a fully equipped kitchen, including a dishwasher, range with oven, and microwave.
Find bedding for up to eight at Teton Valley Resort, with plenty of storage in the closet and a bathroom with a tub featuring designer details. There’s a porch and an outdoor wooden settee on the exterior. The Teton Valley Resort offers the Wanderlust Bistro, an on-site restaurant open from breakfast through dinner.
Located at 1208 ID-31 in Victor, Idaho.
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Ski Away from the Crowds at Grand Targhee Ski Resort
Grand Targhee Resort offers an excellent option for those who want a new resort with all the offerings of well-known resorts but without the constant crowds and overwhelming lift lines. The location is stunning, and the area is convenient, with jet service into Idaho Falls. Let Wander guide you when planning your next ski vacation or winter trip. We have great ideas for outdoor activity, whether it is to Wyoming, Colorado, or beyond.