Grand Targhee in the Tetons
By Jordan Curet
Jan 20, 2017
About 90 minutes north of Jackson Hole is the hidden gem of the Wyoming Tetons, Grand Targhee Resort. Rising high above the flat valley floor, Grand Targhee is sparse trees, snowy glades and powdery bowls. From the town of Alta, there is a beautiful mountain road winding up to the resort, and as you turn the last corner the slopes are startling — the groomers appear to go straight up the front face of the hill. And dotted throughout the terrain are trees — if you can call them that — glittering like snow sculptures brined with so much snow you can’t see any green.
At first glance, Grand Targhee feels like a step back in time. The base area is a smattering of wood buildings including a lodge, some restaurants and a firepit with tables right out to the edge of the snow. It’s not about the glitz and glam; unlike Aspen, everyone is there to ski and enjoy the snow. And no matter what your ability level, there is a little of something for everyone.
I am told most days you cannot see the stunning scenery and the Grand Teton in the background. Grand Targhee is known for its consistent storm days, making every day a powder day. I arrived the day after a storm to fresh conditions and bluebird skies. As I set about exploring the mountains I was surprised at how much terrain was served by just a few lifts, and that I seemed to have all of it to myself.
The highlight of the terrain was hike-to access on Mary’s Nipple, nestled between Fred’s Mountain and Peaked Mountain. A moderate elevation gain over 20 minutes leaves you at the top of a variety of terrain: glades, an open chute or even steeper chutes and cliffs. It’s a top-to-bottom run, sending you either to a fun groomer all the way back to the base or into the gully full of pockets of powder and playful terrain. The far end of Peaked Mountain is more cliffs, like the Snowmass Headwall; I imagine it is an incredible playground with new snow.
For those who want untracked runs all day, Grand Targhee has its own cat-skiing operation, adjacent to the resort. Sprinkled throughout the edge of the resort are gates to access the amazing Teton backcountry. On a sunny day you can see saddle after peak leading straight to the base of the Grand Teton, which dominates the landscape. There are unlimited options for backcountry skiing.
Just down the hill from the resort is the Teton Teepee in Alta. Somewhere between a backcountry hut, a yurt and gigantic teepee, this lodge has 12 rooms ringing the edge of the communal space. The most impressive feature is the giant chimney suspended from the ceiling over an open fire that is roaring at all times in the center of the teepee. This is a fun throwback lodge that I think everyone should stay at some time, and don’t miss Jane-mom, a local character who puts out breakfast and keeps the place running.