2013 Grand Targhee Ski Trip


We decided to make our annual skip trip trek to the Grand Tetons area of Wyoming, mostly because the snow in Colorado had been increasingly sparse the past several years. Besides which, we had not been in this area previously.

The secondary "nicetie" was that we would not have altitude issues, and that the crowds would be considerably less than Colorado ski areas or Jackson Hole either. Located in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, the abundance of light powder snow (more than 500 inches annually) and lack of lift lines in the winter made this travel decision easy.

If you have never been to Wyoming or Idaho and you are planning a trip there, or you just want to know more about it, here are some good sources of information;

We flew into the Jackson Hole airport, and the drive from there to our rental house in Idaho gave us an opportunity to check out Jackson Hole, etc. It is a very scenic ride through the Teton Pass on Wyoming route 22/33 which brings you into Driggs Idaho. Driggs is a small village (population of less than 2,000) with an altitude of 6,109 above sea level. No industry, however it is a popular destination in the summer for mountain biking and for easy access to Grand Targhee in the wintertime.

I had pre-purchased our lift tickets, but we had to go to the Grand Targhee Ticket Office and show our identification in order to pickup the tickets. They take your picture for your lift ticket, so that "sharing" is not possible.

The lifts at Grand Targhee (image #2) are not exactly "modern" but they get the job done.

Got the lift tickets and we are now ready to head up the hill! As you can see in the background, there wasn't much of a lift line at this time of day. In fact, most frequently the lift lines were reasonable until the weekends when the crowds would increase in size.

This is the house we rented in Driggs,ID - good size, nice & warm and our rental Suburban fit into the garage. Yeah, it was a 12 mile drive to Grand Targhee, but the drive was spectacular and the house was very nice.

We brought Jeremy's cousin Stephen with us, so having the second floor bedrooms gave everyone their own space and as the master bedroom was on the first floor, we had our own privacy as well.

Jeremy and I getting our snowboards strapped on and ready to go up the lift. This might just be the only down-side to snowboarding, you have to get buckled in to ride!

Chelsea is indicating that she is ready to ski! She is really waiting on all of us to get our snowboard bindings tight and ready to ride. Skiers have a much simpler time of it getting ready to go!!

Get to the lift early, and there is no line, and you go right up the hill. Or did I neglect to mention that the crowds were always kind of small at this resort?

This was our view of the Mountains (Grand Targhee is in the background) every morning as we drove up from Driggs. It was only 12.2 miles up Ski Hill Road from our rental house, but the road brings you out of Idaho and back into Wyoming as it climbs up into the Grand Teton Mountains.

And as the drive from Driggs continues to the ski area, the road gets steeper & steeper. It is only a 12.2 mile drive, but as the last 2/3 of the drive are uphill with a number of curves, it seems much more distant.

Jeremy & Steven stopped for a quick pose in the Grand Targhee base area. Or maybe they are trying to ask "why aren't we headed to the lifts?".

The drive back down the mountain, gives everyone a chance to warm up. Steven is smiling because I had a chance to warm up the car while everyone put their gear into the back of the Suburban.

We decided to take everyone up to Yellowstone, and because we wanted to take a sno-cat tour, we got a motel for one night. The next morning, it was minus 27 degrees! I cannot put into words how cold it felt!

After being on the slopes all day, everyone takes time to warm up! Your fingers and toes get a chance to thaw out, and you get to have your snow clothing and gear de-ice and warm up for tomorrow's run.

Everyone is enjoying the Snocat tour, and by now, it had "warmed up" to zero degrees. Fascinating how good zero degrees felt after we had experienced -27 degrees!

The snocat would stop at various places, and we would all get to go out and see that area. Chelsea is explaining that it is really cold.

Yellowstone is full of geysers, bubbling hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and everywhere you look is steam rising from ponds or streams.

Like I just said, everywhere you look is steam rising from the ground or the water. The entire Yellowstone area sits atop an ancient caldera referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano.

 Quick Facts 

The Yellowstone caldera formed during the last of three supereruptions over the past 2.1 million years: the Huckleberry Ridge eruption 2.1 million years ago (which created the Island Park Caldera and the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff); the Mesa Falls eruption 1.3 million years ago (which created the Henry's Fork Caldera and the Mesa Falls Tuff); and the Lava Creek eruption approximately 630,000 years ago (which created the Yellowstone Caldera and the Lava Creek Tuff).

 The above information was extracted from Wikipedia.

Here we are walking over to the Old Faithful viewing area, waiting for it to put on a show.

I thought that I better check the Snocat hardware, to make sure it is ready to take us again. For the record, the park does not allow automobiles to traverse the roads in the winter, only these snocats and snow-mobiles are allowed to use the roads.

 Quick Facts 

Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States. It was named in 1870 during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to receive a name. It is a highly predictable geothermal feature, and has erupted every 44 to 125 minutes since 2000. The geyser and the nearby Old Faithful Inn are part of the Old Faithful Historic District.

 The above information was extracted from Wikipedia.

Not sure whether we are discussing how cool Old Faithful was, or maybe how much warmer it feels at 3 degrees than it did at -27 degrees.

There were a number of Bison herds in Yellowstone, and none of these guys seemed to feel the cold like we did! The bison pretty much wandered where ever they wanted to, including sometimes marching down the center of the road. The snocat driver told us that they were required to pull over and park on the side until the bisons would finish walking by, or the bison would take offence and attempt to put a horn into the snocat!

 Quick Facts 

An estimated 20 to 30 million bison once dominated the North American landscape from the Appalachians to the Rockies, from the Gulf Coast to Alaska. Habitat loss and unregulated shooting reduced the population to just 1,091 by 1889. Today, approximately 500,000 bison live across North America, including approximately 5,000 in Yellowstone Park.

 The above information was extracted from Wikipedia.

Chelsea has just won a round of "whole house ping pong". This was the result of the house rental having ping pong equipment, but no ping pong table!

Jeremy seems to have gotten a penalty, which is what Chelsea is explaining to him.

Celeste is either warming up in front of the fireplace, or she is waiting for the ping pong ball to richochet off the wall?

Grand Targhee is not a large ski area, but it seems to always have good snow, crowds are considerably less than other ski areas we have visited, and there are enough lifts to service the hills.

You can find all of Grand Targhee's statistics at the bottom of this page.

Looking up the hill from the Grand Targhee base area. That was a good run down from the top!

Me driving up the Hill to the Grand Targhee parking lot. The road was two lane, and when you add in the snow & ice and other vehicles, it could occasionally create some amount of tenseness!

If there wasn't a family ping pong contest, these two could be found here. I am certain that a lot of "Minecraft" got played by these two during the evenings!

The house we rented had a seriously good heating system, which is exactly what we all needed after a full day up on the hill! Also allowed us to walk about in t-shirts and be comfortable until the next morning.

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To view all of our images from this trip, click here

Trip Summary

Grand Targhee's peak elevation is 10,121 feet and the base elevation is 7,851 feet above sea level. This yields a vertical drop of 2,270 feet on 2,602 skiable acres. 4 lifts and 99 trails with an average annual snowfall of 500 inches.

The overall "feel" is that it is much smaller than any of the Colorado ski areas we have frequented over the years. However, the air does not feel as "thin" as you will find at the Colorado Resorts either.

Lift tickets can be acquired at a lower price than Colorado as well, and there are a number of corporate entities that can provide them. Even a "list price" ticket at the resort is less expensive.

Celeste and I both felt that Grand Targhee was good, maybe not "better" than our favorite Colorado Resorts, but enjoyable due to the less crowded lift lines, etc.

Ski Resort Statistics:

Total Acreage:
2,602 feet
Annual AVG Snowfall:
500+ inches/41+ feet
Vertical Drop:
2,270 feet
Base Elevation:
7851 feet
Number of Lifts:

Fred's Mountain Statistics

Vertical Drop:
2,176 foot vertical drop
Number of Lifts:
3 quad chairs (1 high-speed) and 1 Magic Carpet Conveyor Lift
10% Easier; 70% More Difficult; 20% Most Difficult
Summit elevation:
9,862 feet
Longest run at resort:
2.7 miles (Teton Vista Traverse)

Peaked Mountain Statistics

Vertical Drop:
2,180 feet
Number of Lifts:
1 high speed quad chair
85% More Difficult; 15% Most Difficult
Summit elevation:
9,830 feet
Total Acreage:
602 acres reserved exclusively for Snowcat Adventures

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