Discover Serious Powder at Grand Targhee Ski Resort

Written by Catherine Parker

December 6, 2022
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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 that this area offers some serious powder for 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. 

Cordoroy Run at Grand Targhee Ski Resort.

I enjoyed empty runs during a mid-week visit to Grand Targhee Ski Resort. Photo by Catherine Parker

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. The runs are divided into 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. 

The Dreamcatcher Lift at Grand Targhee Ski Resort

The Dreamcatcher Lift is right off the main patio. Photo by Catherine Parker

The Mountain 

Grand Targhee Resort offers many varied terrains and excellently disperses its skiers and boarders across the resort. As a self-proclaimed Mom skier, I appreciate that 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 were 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. 

Skiers and boarders also use the Dreamcatcher Lift to access the Blackfoot Lift and its quiet runs on the western side of the resort. 

Sacajawea Lift 

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 Grand Targhee Resort’s newest lift, the Colter Lift. Skiers and boarders can explore new terrain and enjoy the first new lift since the Blackfoot Lift was replaced in 2016. Rendezvous and Ermine runs can be used to reach it.  

Colter Lift

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, the largest expansion since 2001. With the addition of 600 acres of new terrain off Peaked Mountain, skiers and boarders get a mix of 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.

A whimsical sign at Grand Targhee Ski Resort.

A whimsical sign in the Shoshone Lift area. Photo by Catherine Parker

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. Junior Ski and Snowboarding lessons (6 to 12) are available all-day or afternoon. 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 catered to each individual. 
Lessons at Grand Targhee Ski Resort.

For those just starting, I recommend lessons. Photo by Catherine Parker

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.

Snowshoeing

Shoeshoeing at Grand Targhee is an easy activity to add to your getaway. The resort offers snowshoe rentals and 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 for nearly everyone to pick up. 

Fat Biking

Fat biking, outfitted with larger tires, has taken to the snow. For mountain bikers, it is a must. Grand Targhee offers a green and blue trail, especially for fat biking. Rentals are available at the lodge. 

Nordic Skiing

Though not as easy as snowshoeing, downhill skiers can easily pick up the basics of Nordic skiing. 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.  

Fat Biking.

Fat Biking is one of the winter activities at Grand Targhee Ski Resort. Photo by Catherine Parker

Where to Eat at Grand Targhee Resort

Playing in the snow makes everyone hungry. With several areas for on-mountain dining, guests can pick from quick bites and coffee shops to casual dining with live music to a full-service restaurant with a locally sourced menu. 

Snorkels Cafe

At Snorkels Cafe, you can find quick bites for breakfast and lunch and a full barista-made coffee menu. 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 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, including appetizers, soups, salads, and burgers. The Trap Bar and Grill boasts a full bar menu with specialty drinks and local beers. It is open daily from 11 AM to 7 PM and is above the Snorkels Cafe, overlooking the main patio. 

Wild Bill’s 

A cafeteria-style eatery inside Rendezvous Lodge features hand-made Mexican favorites, hand-tossed pizzas, burgers, and baked potatoes. It’s the place for a filling lunch in between runs. Wild Bill’s is open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 3 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 9 AM to 3 PM. 

Powder Cache Bar and Grill 

The Powder Cache is a stunning dining room located mountainside at Grand Targhee Resort. It features a chef-created menu. 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.

The Powder Cache Bar and Grill.

The Powder Cache Bar and Grill offers a chef-created menu. Photo by Catherine Parker

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.

At Teton Valley Resort, you can find bedding for up to eight. The closet has plenty of storage, and the bathroom features a tub with designer details. The exterior has a porch and an outdoor wooden settee. The 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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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 to Wyoming, Colorado, or beyond.

Written by Catherine Parker

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel that’s driven her to visit all 50 U.S. states. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, she’s landed in nearly every North American airport at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, Catherine combines her love of the open road with visiting national parks, historic sites and cultural icons. Logging over 75,000 miles behind the wheel, Catherine has explored 41 of the 61 national parks so far. Loaded an over-packed SUV, she’s driven through the lower 48 and six Canadian provinces with her three kids. Catherine also contributes to print magazines, including Texas Farm and Home and her local newspaper, The Taylor Press. You can follow Catherine online at http://www.carfulofkids.com/.

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