view of teton range peaks from top of grand targhee ski resort
(Photo/David Young)

A Guide to Skiing Grand Targhee: An Inside Look at One of the West’s Best-Kept Secrets

Just miles away from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming is smaller. And while it offers shorter lift lines and smaller crowds, it still has a lot to boast in terms of the variety of skiing and terrain. We’ve put together a short guide for anyone planning a trip to the area.

Stepping off the high-speed Dreamcatcher lift atop Grand Targhee Ski Resort is like stepping into a Cormac McCarthy novel. It’s a version of the West that has disappeared in all but a few special places in the country, and Grand Targhee is one of them.

From the pristine peak to the west are endless snow-covered plains. You can almost envision the bison that once roamed the region freely. To the east, the Tetons stab into the clouds and hover above like some sort of prehistoric beast. Located in Wyoming, just a few miles across the Idaho border — earning the region the term “Wydaho” — Grand Targhee is named after The Grand Teton, the highest peak in the Teton Range.

The ski resort opened in 1969 on the west side of the Tetons and has flown under the radar compared to its steeper counterpart just across the Teton Range — Jackson Hole. However, Grand Targhee stands up to any resort in the lower 48 in its own right with vast terrain, consistent snowfall, and unparalleled views in every direction.

Grand Targhee is home to the signature vertical cliff bands seen in the Tetons, which will commit the hardest of skiers to mandatory air, yet it also has wide-open slopes and bowls that beg for powder days. And it’s still off the beaten path, which means shorter lift lines, more skiing, and a laid-back, fun vibe.

A Skier's Guide to Grand Targhee
(Photo/David Young)

Getting There

While it’s located in Wyoming, one of the easiest ways to get to Grand Targhee is to fly into the Idaho Falls Regional Airport in Idaho Falls. With direct flights from Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, and Seattle, it’s easy to fly into the low-stress airport and head up to the slopes. From Idaho Falls, it’s a little over an hour’s drive to the resort.

For those coming from the east, it’s about an hour’s drive from Jackson Hole to Grand Targhee. Jackson Hole also has an airport that offers direct flights from around the country, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, and Houston, to name a few.

Where to Stay at Grand Targhee

Grand Targhee Ski Resort - where to stay
(Photo/David Young)

Once you arrive, there are some great lodging options. Staying slopeside is easy and fun, you can ski in and ski out from your room, making life easy. The Grand Targhee Resort offers an array of lodging at the base of the mountain from the Teewinot Lodge to The Tower Suite.

If you can make the drive, the Teton Valley Resort is also a great option. Located in Victor, Idaho, just 30 minutes from Grand Targhee, the resort offers quaint private cabins with gas-powered fireplaces. The Teton Valley Resort has a hot tub and the Wanderlust Bistro, a small restaurant to recharge and refuel after a long day on the slopes.

Skiing for Everyone

A Skier's Guide to Grand Targhee - skiing for everyone
(Photo/David Young)

When it comes to skiing, Grand Targhee has a little something for everyone. The mountain boasts an average of more than 500 inches of snowfall each year and is considered the fifth-snowiest resort in the country.

If you hit the resort when it has fresh snow, you’re sure to find soft skiing and wide-open spaces. If that sounds like your kind of skiing, then Grand Targhee is your sweet spot. There are three main lifts — Blackfoot, Dreamcatcher, and Sacajawea — that service an array of terrain.

The nice thing about the broad slopes is that if you have beginners and experts skiing together in your group, they can ski side-by-side on off-piste and groomed runs that parallel each other down the mountain.

If you are looking for something a bit more challenging, check out the cat skiing offering access to Peaked Mountain. Starting next season, Grand Targhee is adding a lift to this peak and opening up the terrain to anyone looking to explore the area.

Grand Targhee Mountain Stats

  • Total acreage: 2,602
  • Annual average snowfall: 500+ in./41+ ft.
  • Vertical drop: 2,270
  • Base area elevation: 7,851 ft.
  • Number of lifts: 5

Après Ski Spots

Grand Targhee Ski Resort
(Photo/David Young)

So when the skis come off, where’s the place to go for an après beverage or two?

The Trap Bar and Grill is the go-to spot on the mountain with live music and a great local vibe. Pro tip: check out their Wydaho Nachos ($18) with a local brew — you won’t regret it.

For a more formal setting, the Branding Iron offers a great space. With a large fireplace and welcoming bar that serves beer on tap inside and outside, this is a great place to enjoy a beer (or warm beverage) with a hot meal.

If you venture back into Victor, Idaho, make sure to check out the Knotty Pine Supper Club. Known for Kansas City-style barbecue and great live music, this is a must-stop spot when visiting Grand Targhee.

An insider tip: warm up with a Knotty Toddy made with warm whiskey, honey, and lemon, and feast on the “Pignic” ($62), a smorgasbord of smoked meats and scrumptious sides that can feed four to six people. That will ensure you replenish all those calories burned on the slopes.

Nordic Skiing & More

A Skier's Guide to Grand Targhee
(Photo/David Young)

If you want to take a breather from downhill skiing, Grand Targhee has an awesome nordic track available. Its nordic trails are open to cross-country skiers, snowshoers, or fat bikes. The 9 miles of groomed trails at the base of the mountain offer classic cross-country trails through glades and aspens at the base of the Tetons.

And if you’re looking for a change of pace and a family-friendly ski resort, consider taking a day or two to check out Kelly Canyon. Located an hour and a half from Grand Targhee and just 30 minutes from Idaho Falls, Kelly Canyon is great for beginners. It also offers night skiing if you want to get some turns in under the lights, and it’s home to some great hot springs.


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David Young
By

David Young is the Contributing Writer for Gear Junkie.
David has been writing about skiing, fly fishing, and outdoor gear for 10+ years. David has also worked at an outdoor PR agency and daily newspapers across Colorado. Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, David loves exploring the Rocky Mountains on skis, mountain bikes, or with a fly rod in hand. He is a Colorado native and when not in the backcountry, David is at the keyboard writing and listening to vinyl records or sitting by a fire with a glass of whiskey in hand.