Seeking alpine fun? You won’t miss the flash of Jackson Hole at this genial resort right atop the Idaho-Wyoming border.
During summer you’ll be charmed by the many shades of green at Grand Targhee Resort in northwestern Wyoming. The fluttering chartreuse of the aspens. The dusky olive of the pines. The velvet jade of the meadows. And the green practices of this alpine getaway on the less visited back side of the Teton Range, where purchased wind energy helps power the ski lift that sweeps you to within yodeling distance of imposing peaks—the same ones you’ve seen in a thousand photos snapped in Jackson Hole, just 15 miles east over the mountains.
Perhaps most of all you’ll like the crisp green left in your wallet after a several-day stay here. Renowned for world-class skiing from November to April, Grand Targhee offers a range of surprisingly affordable off-season enticements. Don’t expect to find Grand Teton National Park’s classic Snake River vistas. But when the snow clears from Targhee’s slopes and daytime temperatures hit the comfortable 70s and low 80s, you can grab the chairlift to the 10,200-foot summit of Fred’s Mountain and gaze east over the Jedediah Smith Wilderness.The dizzying span of Teton peaks includes the big daddy of them all, Grand Teton, a glacier-hewn granite pyramid 13,770 feet high.
Ride the chair lift down or take a trail to the base area at 8,000 feet and you’ll find horseback riding, mountain biking, and even more day hiking. One trail—five miles total, out and back—climbs to Mary’s Saddle, a ridgetop sweet spot with sweeping mountain views. Easy loop trails to flower-speckled meadows in Rick’s Basin let you take short or long outings without retracing your steps.
At the resort’s central village, a clutch of wood-clad buildings, you can stop at the nature center to find out what species of penstemon you saw blooming on Fred’s Mountain or to describe the furry figure that scurried by. (Targhee’s runs its own C.S.I.—Critter Seen Investigation—as part of a kid-oriented nature program.) You can also sign up for a round of disc golf, a stirring zip line ride, or a GPS-guided navigation game. Or slip off to the spa for a massage and facial. Around sundown, you may spot visitors settling in for a game of bingo or gathering at a campfire to hear a naturalist discuss the controversial reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone.
All these options tend to take a backseat during two rollicking music festivals held every July and August in an adjacent natural amphitheater. This summer, guitar-slinging songsters Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, and Taj Mahal star at the Targhee Fest, July 18 to 20. At the Bluegrass Festival, August 8 to 10, standout players include monster mandolinist Sam Bush and banjo wizards Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka with their bands.
The Targhee resort works hard enough to keep its label Grand in summer, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t escape to float the Snake River or to angle for trout on the Teton. You can book a flight in a balloon or sailplane and peer down on the bold terrain. Or drive to one of the popular national parks. Yellowstone is less than two hours away, Grand Teton one. Back at the resort you’ll feel that much happier when you hear yet another visitor sigh, "It’s not crowded."
Photography by Gabe Rogel
This article was first published in July 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Pick up the Idaho, Montana & Wyoming TourBook and Idaho & Montana map. Contact Grand Targhee Resort: (307) 353-2300, grandtarghee.com . Rooms at Teewinot Lodge—it has a fireplace lounge and a deck with views—start at $150. Resort beds may be scarce during festivals. Options include three nights’ tent camping or RV parking (no hookups) with music festival admission for $150. (RV parking is otherwise $25 a night.) During the festivals (book tickets at ticketweb.com ), biodiesel shuttle buses run hourly from Driggs, Idaho, 20 minutes west.
SLEEPS AND EATS
Best Western Teton West From $90. Teton views and an indoor pool, 476 N. Main St., Driggs, Idaho, (800) 844-3246. Pines Motel From $55. Down-home charm. 105 S. Main St., Driggs, Idaho. (208) 354-2774. Targhee Steakhouse (at Targhee). Allyou-can-eat crab feasts, Western cookouts, dry-aged Idaho beef at reasonable prices. The Trap Bar & Grille (at Targhee). Try a Bloody Mary, a local Deep Powder Pale Ale, or nachos with waffle fries.