While hard-charging locals and visitors from around the globe schuss down the slopes at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, many locals are in on a lesser-known spot on the western side of the Tetons for some winter adventure: Grand Targhee Resort, an easy hour's drive away in Alta.
This family-friendly resort offers the same stunning Teton views you'll get at JHMR, but shorter lift lines and small-town flavor that's harder to come by these days. The terrain is generally mellower than the steeps of Jackson, but all levels of skiers and snowboarders, from those seeking challenging double blacks to those craving calm green runs, will find something that suits their fancy.
Another bonus: Targhee gets just as much snow as Jackson (and sometimes more). As of the time of this writing, Grand Targhee is reporting 293 inches for the 2015-2016 season, compared to Jackson Hole's 298—virtually identical readings. Plus, you'll save some cash at Targhee: A full-day adult lift ticket is just $75 (compared to the $130 walk-up rate at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort).
But Grand Targhee isn't just great downhill skiing. Snowsports enthusiasts can pick from Snowcat skiing, Nordic skiing, fat biking, tubing, a great après scene, and more. Here's what else you need to know exploring and enjoying Grand Targhee in winter.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Cruise the in-bound groomers and bowls or head to the backcountry and sidecountry through the gates. "Be in the know before you go or look to a guide for their expertise," says Jennie White, marketing manager for Grand Targhee. Yostmark in Driggs offers a number of backcountry and sidecountry tours, including some that leave from the resort.
Beginners will love the variety of runs off the Shoshone lift, intermediates will crave the corduroy off of Dreamcatcher, and experts will love A Chute, Reliable, Instructor's Shoots, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. For some of the best bowls, check out Mary's, K1, and Happy Hunting Grounds.
Hike and Ski Mary's Nipple
Why do they call it that? You'll need to see it up close. To ascend to the top of Mary's Nipple, you'll need to be ready to hike the 650-foot bootpack from the top of Dreamcatcher Lift. Ski down from the 9,920-foot in-bounds summit and savor some powder along the way.
Have the best powder day of your life on a Snowcat adventure . Your legs will be quaking after getting in the up to 14,000 vertical feet an average day brings. Guides bring you to 602 acres of un-tracked powder, terrain that's only available through the Snowcats. They'll even feed you lunch.
Grand Targhee is a fat biking pioneer, the first U.S. resort to allow ( and encourage ) fat bikes on its Nordic trails. Pedal on four miles of singletrack trails with a Nordic day ticket or season pass and rent bikes on the mountain or at Habitat in Driggs, Idaho. Take a loop on the easy Hamster Loop, which is only 0.8 miles, or move your way up to intermediate Rick's Basin (1.25 miles) or expert Quakie Ridge (2.5 miles) for stunning views of the mountain and Valley and Leigh canyons.
Slip into the skinny skis and get ready to take on the 15 kilometers of Nordic trails at Targhee. For pure scenery, including incredible views of the mountain and Valley and Leigh canyons, opt for Rick's Basin and Quakie Ridge. Classic and skate skiing lanes lead through aspen groves, forest, and meadows. You might even see some wildlife along the way.
Fly down the slopes of the tubing park for a thrilling adventure, then ride the magic carpet back up for another lap. The tubing park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and be sure to check the current hours before heading over. Only 30 tubes at a time can enjoy the park, so consider making advance reservations to secure a spot (especially after 6 pm).
The resort offers two dedicated snowshoe trails , including one for beginners and one for more advanced snowshoers. Grab some snowshoes and spend a day exploring the forest in winter, winding through the wintery forests and the open meadows. Keep an eye out for winter wildlife along the way--you never know what you might spot around here.
Travel back in time with a visit to this old-school pizza arcade. Just like the good ol' days. Take a break and bring the kids (or yourself) over and slip quarters into the classic machines while munching on a slice of pepperoni pie. Savor the classic ski lodge feel with this retro gem.
Dinner Sleigh Ride
Why leave the slopes after dark? Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest to enjoy a Western dinner in a high alpine yurt. Indulge in steak, chicken, or a vegetarian option, Idaho potatoes, and more on this memorable dinner adventure. Two seatings a night are available and dinner lasts 1.5 hours. Up to 18 people can fit on the sleigh and while no alcohol is served, feel free to BYOB (for a corkage fee).
Après at the Trap Bar
Located at the resort's base, the Trap Bar (known among locals as the Trap) is the place to go after a day on the hill, with a friendly, bustling après scene. Choose from 12 beers on draft, including selections from local breweries like Snake River, and chow down on the famous Wydaho Nachos—waffle fries smothered in cheese and all the nacho fixings—while listening to live, local music.