To reach Grand Targhee Resort in western Wyoming, you have to drive through Driggs, Idaho, which is why they call this area Wydaho.
I flew into Idaho Falls, Idaho, on Monday, where I met up with a small group of journalists to do some exploring. It’s unseasonably warm, but we’re wearing ourselves out with fun.
If you’re into skiing, snow shoeing, hiking, fat biking, beer drinking, horseback riding, hot tubbing, standup paddle boarding, or just curling up in front of a fireplace and relaxing with a book, put this on your list. It’s just over the mountains from its much more famous neighbor, Jackson Hole, but flies well under the radar.
After three days, here are some highlights:
- Skiing the Headwall at Grand Targhee Ski Resort. This 2,602-acre, mostly intermediate resort on the western slope of the Tetons gets an average of 500 inches of snow every year. What it doesn’t get are crowds. My favorite run? A black diamond line called the Headwall, which served up manageable moguls and a nice pitch. And while some of the other slopes turned soft and slushy when temps rose above freezing this week, it held up fairly well.
- Staying in a cabin at Teton Valley Resort. This little RV resort rents tipis and lovely little cabins, too. No, they’re not tucked in the woods, and yes, they’re lined up side by side like baby ducks, but they’re new, well maintained and pretty luxurious. I’m sitting in front of my fireplace now, sipping tea and looking out the window at snow drifts, with mountains in the distance
- Barbecue at the Knotty Pine in Victor, Idaho. We spent four hours – four hours! – yesterday at this famous supper club, which has been operating since the 1960s. It gets its name from the big timbers with gnarled humps that you’ll see overhead when you walk in the front door. After a day of skiing, you should order the Pignic – a pile of pork ribs, pulled pork and brisket so high it feeds four to six people. It comes with mac and cheese, cole slaw and beans, too. (As a Texan, I cornered the pulled pork and ribs – the brisket doesn’t compare to the tender-as-mashed-potatoes version we get in Austin.) Wash it down with a Knotty Toddy, a warming blend of whisey, honey, lemon and hot water.
- The non-pretentious vibe. No posers walking around in Bogner jackets and real fur jackets, no fancy shopping malls, no show offs. I did spot an old Scout in the parking lot with a half-eaten cup of chili in the back seat and a cloud of marijuana smoke around it. I’ll take it.
- The view of Grand Teton, at 13,775 feet the highest peak in the Tetons. It pokes up like Mother Nature’s water tower, only way, way prettier. When the clouds part and it appears, you have to stop and admire it.
- The Trap. You can’t go to Grand Targhee without stopping by The Trap bar at the base for a giant plate of nachos (get the ones on corn chips, not on waffle fries – that’s just wrong!) and a cold beer. Those nachos feed at least four people and will set you back a paltry $15. That’s ridiculously cheap by ski resort standards.
- Grand Targhee isn’t known for its tree runs, but we found some patches of aspens that made an excellent playground. The pitch is forgiving, but it’s bumped up enough to keep things interesting. Something about zipping through those slender tree trunks, barren of snow, makes me feel like I’m inside a black and white photograph.
- Nothing compares to soaking in a hot tub after a day on the slopes, especially if you fall hard and crack your tailbone like I did yesterday. Hot water fixes everything, though, and my little posse of ski buddies soaked off the hurt in the outdoor tub at Teton Valley Resort. Bliss.
- The locals! They call skiers over 80 here Targheezers, and they ski with pride. A ski buddy met one Gheezer yesterday who said he hit these slopes four days a week. I want to be like him when I grow upThe peace and quiet. A warm fireplace, a good book, and a full belly make the perfect finish to a day spent wearing out your quads. What a treat.