I’d never heard of Grand Targhee before my husband booked us a couple of nights at the resort.

But we couldn’t ski at Jackson Hole after Christmas up through New Year’s Eve — the Ikon Base Pass has holiday restrictions — so we decided to give it a shot. The 50-year-old resort sits on the western slope of the Tetons in Alta, Wyo., and is within a couple of hours of both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. It’s a little out of the way, but the reasonable lift tickets and reasonable slopeside lodging earned it a spot on our winter road trip.

The Grand Targhee Resort website promised us short lift lines and plenty of room to spread out our carves. After sharing the mountain for two days with the Jackson Hole holiday crowd, I was looking forward to more elbow room. Thankfully, the resort delivered short waits and fun runs. If you decide to visit Grand Targhee, here’s what you need to know. 

The Mountain

Grand Targhee has about 2,000 skiable acres, so it’s a little smaller than some of the more popular resorts. But there are an additional 600 acres reserved for cat skiing. You can get a full day of a private snowcat shuttling for $450 a day. Like Jackson Hole, most of the resort is intermediate and advanced, with about 10 percent of the terrain for beginners. Since the resort isn’t as well known as Jackson Hole — and it isn’t on either the Epic or the Ikon passes —there were hardly any lines for the lifts, and I never felt like I was going to run into another skier. And that’s saying something since we went during the holiday season.

There are plenty of groomed runs, but we took advantage of the fresh powder since a few inches came down the day before we arrived. In some spots, it seemed more like a half foot of snow had fallen. I went down the same run for an hour and never ran out of fresh powder to ski through. Not only was the skiing simply a lot of fun, but also the views were stunning. If you ride up the Dreamcatcher lift to the summit of Fred’s Mountain, you can get a view of the Teton Range and glimpses of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. While the top of the mountain can change from cloudy to crystal clear in a matter of minutes, I had plenty of moments where I would stop just to take in the view of the valley below.

Where to stay

We stayed slopeside at the Targhee Lodge.  We opted for a hotel room instead of a condo — forgoing any cooking appliances — to save some money. But we still had access to an outdoor heated pool and hot tub. And we saved an additional 15 percent on lift tickets — which usually cost around $90 — because we added them on to the price of our room.

Rates for standard rooms run anywhere from $156 to $200, depending on when you stay. Our room was pretty basic, but it was comfortable. There was also plenty of space to store gear, and it came with a boot drier (which we loved so much we bought our own when we got home). If you opt for a hotel room, there are restaurants for breakfast and dinner on-site. For groups and families who need more space — and who want to be able to cook —the resort offers condos and suites.

How to get there

We drove to Grand Targhee as part of a road trip from Wisconsin, so we got up early and took a scenic 42-mile drive from Jackson. For guests not road-tripping it, Jackson Hole Airport and Idaho Falls Airport are options. Grand Targhee Resort offers an airport shuttle to and from JAC and IDA that costs $60 for adults and $30 for kids 12 and under. Make sure to make your reservation two days in advance for either your arrival or departure. Up to 11 guests can travel together.

Will we go again?

We absolutely loved Grand Targhee. It had a locals-only feel similar to Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, and the small crowds were a definite plus. It was the perfect way to cap off our 12-day ski trip through Montana and Wyoming. The terrain was fun, the views were gorgeous, and we’re already planning a trip back for next season.

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