Teton Valley Playground

Make the most of a trip to Grand Targhee.

By Molly Absolon

GRAND TARGHEE RESORT is not only on the opposite side of the Tetons from Jackson, but also Jackson’s opposite in terms of vibe. Instead of the fancy boutiques, upscale hotels, and spas found in Teton Village, Targhee’s base area is rustic and a little dated. Targhee is a family-friendly step back in time where the lift lines are short and the snow is deep. (The resort averages more than 500 inches of snow a year.) The skiing and snowboarding at the ’Ghee are great, but far from the only things to do. Although, because of Covid-19, there is not quite as much to do as usual. Tubing, Fat Me Up biking lessons, Early Tracks, and yoga are not happening this winter. So you have full info to plan a return trip, we’ve included descriptions of them, but not hours or prices. Activities available late November through early April, conditions permitting. Unless indicated otherwise, information and booking for all activities: grandtarghee.com, 800/827-4433

1. Fat Biking
You may not want to give up a powder day to try fat biking, but when the snow stops flying and the slopes get bumpy, fat biking—so named because of the width of the tires used, about four inches—comes into its element. Grand Targhee was the first ski resort in the U.S. to embrace this growing sport (formerly called snowbiking). Today the resort has seven miles of groomed singletrack bike trails, and, conditions permitting, fat bikers can also ride on the ’Ghee’s fifteen kilometers of Nordic ski trails. Prime conditions are after a freeze when there isn’t any fresh snow. Teton Mountain Outfitters at the Targhee base area rents bikes as well as all the necessary equipment to keep you comfortable and safe. If you’re new to the sport, take a two-hour Fat Me Up lesson from the resort’s winter sports school. 9 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, trail passes $15, bike rentals $30–$45

2. Snowshoeing
Rent snowshoes and follow up to seven miles of packed singletrack trail on your own or, better yet, make a reservation to join a resort naturalist for a two-hour guided snowshoe tour offered daily (twice a day on weekends). Your guide will point out animal tracks, talk about winter ecology, discuss Grand Targhee’s geologic history, and show you some of the area’s wild residents that stay active through the winter. No experience necessary; it is recommended kids are ten or older. Self-snowshoe daily 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., guided tours 10:30 a.m. daily and also Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m.; trail passes $15, guided tours require reservations, are $45, and include trail passes; snowshoe rentals $25

3. Nordic Skiing
Grand Targhee grooms fifteen kilometers of skate and classic tracks that wind around Rick’s Basin and up Quakie Ridge, taking you through ghostly groves of white aspen, across open meadows that glitter with sparkling snow, and deep into pine forests. Once away from the base, the only sound is the sliding of your skis—and maybe some heavy breathing. Lessons available for all levels. 9 a.m.–4 p.m; trail passes $15, Nordic ski rental packages $25 half day, $30 full day terrain parks

4. Terrain Parks
The Sweetwater Terrain Park’s frequently changing features include boxes, rails, jumps, spines, and more. The North Pole Terrain Park is designed for kids, with twisting trails through the trees, mini jumps, banked turns, and features like the Giant Anthills, the Eyeball Forest, Otter Alley, and the Bobsled, each of which is exactly what its name suggests. 9 a.m.–4 p.m. daily; lift tickets from $105 for ages 13 and up, from $46 ages 6-12, kids 5 and under free 

5. Tubing
Rent single or double tubes for an hour (or more, but we usually find an hour’s enough) and whizz down the hill and then get an easy ride back up on the Papoose magic carpet only to whizz down again and again and again. Covid-19 has cancelled tubing this winter, but it will be available again after the pandemic is over.

6. Massage
When you need a little pampering, Anew Massage offers a range of massages—from Swedish to hot stone, sports, and deep tissue—in a rustic cabin next to the resort’s outdoor heated saltwater pool. The massage therapists are all skiers or boarders themselves, so they know just what the doctor ordered after a rigorous day on the slopes. $125 for 60-minute massage, $155 for 90 minutes (pool access included with all massages); 208/209-5650

7. Yoga
Relax, unwind, rejuvenate, and stretch your tired muscles during an hour-long yoga class. Designed for all levels, these daily classes focus on breath, basic poses, flow, and mindfulness to help you achieve an improved sense of well-being and calm. Covid-19 has cancelled yoga this winter, but it will be available again after the pandemic is over.

8. Backcountry skiing
If you’ve got the required skills and gear, Grand Targhee has lift-accessed backcountry skiing. The most popular is a 650-foot boot pack up Mary’s (formerly Mary’s Nipple) just outside the ski area boundary. Longer adventures are also possible, and you can hire a backcountry ski guide through Yostmark Backcountry Tours. $325 first person, $85 each additional person; groups limited to four; yostmark.com, 208/354-2828

9. Cat Skiing
Targhee is known for its light, dry powder, and you can usually find lots of it on the resort’s lift-accessed runs. But if you want to paint an unmarked white canvas with your tracks, go cat skiing. The only cat skiing in the state of Wyoming, Grand Targhee Cat Skiing takes you to the open bowls, steep trees, and endless glades of Peaked Mountain in a snowcat. Disembark the cat and ski down. Repeat. (You can get as much as 18,000 vertical feet in a single day, if your quads can handle it.) Check-in is 8 a.m. for 8:45 a.m. departure; reservations must be booked by 1 p.m. the day before; $475 per person

10. Early Tracks
Targhee’s Early Tracks program allows you access to the lifts and slopes for ninety minutes before they open to the public. Follow a guide around the resort to find hidden stashes of untouched, untracked snow, or pristine corduroy if you prefer. As of mid-November, Early Tracks in on hold for this winter because of Covid, but it will be reinstated this season if conditions allow.

11. Free Mountain Tour
If it’s your first time skiing or boarding at the ’Ghee (or if it’s a storm day and visibility is low), and you’re an intermediate or better skier/rider, consider the daily free mountain tour. Led by an instructor from Grand Targhee’s Ski and Snowboard School or a volunteer host, these ninety-minute tours will introduce you to the mountain, show you where to find pockets of untouched powder and shortcuts to the lifts, provide you with insider tips about fun après activities, and allow you to enjoy Targhee’s incredible views of the surrounding mountains, Teton Valley, and, on a clear day, even up into Montana. 10:30 a.m. daily; free; meet at the Mountain Tour flag at the base of the Dreamcatcher chairlift

12. Après at the Trap Bar or the Branding Iron
Pairing a sloshie (a frozen adult beverage to the uninitiated) with the Wydaho Nacho plate—waffle fries, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheddar and jack cheeses, tomatoes, black olives, black beans, jalapenos, and green onions; chicken optional—at the Trap Bar is either the best or worst idea ever. The Branding Iron, which serves upscale food in a casual setting, is always a good idea, especially if you go for an entrée that includes Wyoming-raised beef. Both open daily for lunch and dinner. JH

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