There are eight Wyoming ski resorts, but only two are destinations, the others are mostly geared toward locals. You’ve probably heard of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming, but I’m guessing you don’t know the others.
Here’s the scoop on all of them, including the destination resort regulars would rather keep to themselves.
A SKIERS RESORT; NOT A RESORT “WITH” SKIING
My brother has been going to Grand Targhee Ski Resort for more than three decades. My nieces learned to ski there. He’s been asking me to come with them for years, and this year, we finally took him up on the offer.
Exactly where is Grand Targhee Resort you ask? Well, it’s about an hour from the better known, and pricier Jackson Hole ski resort, and it sits next to Yellowstone National Park.
GETTING TO GRAND TARGHEE
The closest airports to Grand Targhee are Jackson Hole and Idaho Falls. The flights weren’t as cheap as flying to other ski destinations such as Denver, but if you plan ahead, you can make up the difference (and maybe a little more) in other ways like getting pre-season lift ticket or lodging deals.
If you are comfortable driving in winter weather, rent a car. If you aren’t, the resort has an airport shuttle that will pick you up at either airport. If my brother hadn’t been there to drive us, I would definitely take the shuttle – mostly because I’m not used to driving on snowy roads.
If you do drive, stop in the town of Jackson to get your picture taken with the antler arches. If you come in summer, after the elk shed their antlers, you can buy them from the boy scouts, who pick them up at the nearby Elk Preserve and sell them as a fundraiser (so much better than popcorn). We learned all this on a side trip to the Elk Preserve, definitely a must do side trip as well.
THE TARGHEE VIBE
The Snow. There are two reasons regulars would like to keep this resort a secret. The first is the snow. Targhee is on the western side of the Tetons and Jackson Hole is on the east, meaning Targhee usually gets more of the white stuff.
The eight days surrounding our visit in February the resort had more than 56 inches of snowfall. It’s not unusual to find fresh deep powder even in the afternoons. To make things even better, lift lines are virtually non-existent. During our visit President’s week we skied right onto the lift almost every time.
TargheeVibe. The second reason regular ski and snowboard fanatics love it here is the laid back vibe. Targhee is a skier’s resort, not a resort with skiing. There are less than 100 rooms (although there are more options down the mountain in Driggs, Idaho).
You see lots of multi-generational families at Targhee Resort, and although there are après activities, you can tell the number one attraction is the slopes, which open at 9 and close at 4 pm.
If you are a once a year skier like me, you may not be skilled enough to take advantage of all Grand Targhee has to offer in terms of snow conditions.
I did find some gentler grades (Chief Joe Bowl was my go -o), and the blue runs off the Sacagewea lift where there was a light powder covering the groomed runs has both steeper and gentler grades.
My son spent his time learning how to ski the powder on the side of the runs, proclaiming it his favorite part of the trip.
The key is you never wait in a lift line at Grand Targhee. You can easily get in four runs in an hour.
Tour the Mountain: On your first day, take a complimentary tour of the mountain with a ski & snowboard instructor.
The runs at Targhee are wide open, so taking a tour to learn the mountain, the various runs and secret powder stashes is a great idea for intermediate and above skiers.
Take a Ski Lesson. If you aren’t up for the mountain tour, you can get a tamer lay of the land with a ski lesson.
Even if you know how to ski, a lesson helps to get your legs, and our instructor Carol gave us a good tour of the mountain that fit our beginner and intermediate abilities.
Early Tracks: To take advantage of the best powder, Targhee has a program called early tracks where you can go out before the lift lines open with a seasoned mountain guide.
Tip: When the Ghee comes in (Targhee speak for fog), try the Sacajawea lift. It has a lower elevation, and when the top of the Dreamcatcher lift is fogged in, you can still have some pretty good visibility on Sac.
MUST DO: Whatever type of skier you are, if you have a clear day, be sure to take the Dreamcatcher lift to the top and ski the Teton Vista Traverse. It’s an easy run (more of a trail actually) but the view of the Grand Teton Mountains is NOT to be missed.
And if you need a photo, you’ll have more than a few strangers offer to take it before you can even ask.
GRAND TARGHEE IS KID (AND DOG!) FRIENDLY
Kids Ski Free: Targhee has a variety of different kids programs from child care to ski school to a kids night out. One of my brother’s friend remembers when his son did ski school and how his instructors remembered him later in the week and would cheer him from the lifts above as he powered down the mountain.
The best children’s program of all – kids ski free if you book three or more nights of lodging. For the best value on adult lift tickets, get them early in the season, or to save even more, before the season begins.
APRES AT TARGHEE
Just because skiing takes center stage at Grand Targhee Resort, doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do off the slopes. Here are a couple of our favorites.
The Trap Bar. When the slopes close, the adults, still in their ski pants, sporting crazy hat head go to the 21+ Trap Bar for a beer, some live music and happy hour food specials, while the kids enjoy a few games in the arcade at Wild Bills. At least once splurge on the tower of nachos made with waffle fries, it is totally worth it.
Hot Tub. Of course you have to do the hot tub with snow all around. They also have a heated pool, which my teen tried to get me to try to no avail. The hot tub was perfect after a day of skiing and the toasty warm changing room was nice after getting out.
Tubing. Because we never waited in a lift line (seriously, for three days we skied right onto the lift) we were able to get in a ton of runs in a short time. By afternoon, my legs were spent, which made it a perfect time to hit the tubing hill, which by the way, has a magic carpet to get you back to the top.
Snowshoeing. Again, you can get in a lot of runs on the slopes in a short period. And since the snow is really good at Targhee, the mountain doesn’t get skied out by the afternoon.
Do yourself a favor and take a morning off the slopes and join one of the Targhee naturalists on a snowshoe tour of the Nordic trails.
One of my favorite things at Targhee is the snow capped spruce and fir trees. On the snowshoe trail you’ll go through the forests, into a pristine white meadow.
Our guide JJ showed us how to tell the trees apart, where big cats scratched them, and where a bear family climbed up them. All things we would have missed had we gone on our own.
Bonus: After your guided snowshoe tour, you have use of the snowshoes for the rest of the day, so grab a chicken sandwich with caramelize onions, BBQ, avocado and cheese with a side of fresh cut fries from Snorkels, get in a few runs on Dreamcatcher, and then take another snowshoe hike on your own after the lifts close
Trivia: On your snowshoe tour, see if you can find the pink hand dryer in the forest.
Fat Biking. If you are up for a challenge, get a fat bike instead of snowshoes (or just try this on a different day).
Maybe it was the fact that we’d skied three straight days, that my front tie got a little too low, or (yikes) I am terribly out of shape, but I found fat biking extremely hard.
However, there is something exhilarating about flying down the trails through the trees that was pretty cool – and it has incentivized me to workout a little more now that I’m home.
Cross Country Skiing. For another great workout, try cross country skiing. Targhee has nordic ski rentals as well. This is a great option for a sunny afternoon where the downhill trails are short on powder.
Smores. If you are at Grand Targhee over a weekend, enjoy s’mores by the firepits after a day on the mountain.
Still on our Bucket List. On Sundays you can meet the avalanche dog rescue team for a demo of how they find ski and snowboarders in the event of an avalanche. We saw the dogs around the resort, but didn’t make it to the demo…yet.
Targhee in the Summer. As much fun as Grand Targhee is in the winter, I’ve added it to my summer bucket list too. I want to come back for the Bluegrass Festival and camp in the meadow with the other festival goers, then try out mountain biking, or another plate of those nachos at The Trap Bar.
MORE WYOMING SKI RESORTS
The resort is located in Teton Village, which is more of the ski resort you might expect with lots of shopping, dining, bars and activities. There are also a variety of lodging options.
If you are a new or once a year skier, it is worth noting that Jackson Hole’s green runs are at the bottom of the mountain, which means this area can get skied out faster, or be a bit slushier in warmer weather.
Ready to hit the slopes in Jackson Hole, but don’t have the equipment? We’ve made snowboarding a lifestyle, but before we owned our equipment, Ski Butlers was our ski (and boarding) rental service of choice. These guys deliver to your hotel or condo – and pick up- for only a few dollars more than the jam-packed shops just down the road. And the equipment? Best in the business! Check out Ski Butlers on your next vacation!
Snow King Mountain Resort, Jackson. This small mountain is right outside the town of Jackson, so workers can take a lunch break and get in a few runs.
Antelope Butte Ski Resort, Sheridan. This resort closed in 2004 but has reopened as a non-profit. It’s still pretty rustic (a yurt but no lodge), but the prices reflect that too.
White Pine Ski Resort, Pinedale. Locals especially like this quiet mountain for the cross country trails.
Hogadon Ski Area, Casper. This local hill has 600 vertical feet and is a partner with Grand Targhee, which means, if you have a pass at Targhee, you can ski Hogadon for free. Hogadon pass holders get discounts at Targhee too.
Pine Creek Ski Area, Cokeville. This ski area is for the advanced skier, having more black diamond runs than either intermediate or beginner.
Sleeping Giant, Cody. Locals like Sleeping Giant Ski Resort because 5th graders and above can get the ski bus from Cody to the mountain (without parents!).
Snowy Range Ski Area, Centennial. This small family ski area doesn’t have hotels at the slopes, but you can stay in town.
Meadowlark Ski Lodge, Bighorn. This is another family owned ski resort. You can find great deals if you are interested in just skiing, but it is only open on the weekends.
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