Northern Rockies/Alberta Grand Targhee logistics. Idaho Falls v. Jackson Hole

AmyPJ

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Teton Thai, that's the place!
I loved Grand Targhee so much last winter, we have another trip planned in January. Which says a lot, considering my access to the Wasatch resorts. It's a serious skiers mountain. Super fun, laid back.
 

wyowindrunner

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Live in a small town north of Idaho Falls-drove ID 33 to Targhee five to seven days a week last year from mid Dec- to near end of Feb ( my kids say I have a ski problem- don't see it.). 'Bout an hour and fifteen minutes. Road is windblown but plows/sanders are busy and do a good job. That being said, driving around in this part of the world without a 4WD/AWD is asking for adventures you may not want to participate in. Teton Pass can be an adventure in itself- usually caused by inexperienced or ill equipped travelers. Saw one semi stuck up there last spring (in May), the genius obviously could not read the flashing no semi signs at the bottom on the Idaho side and was receiving remedial reading lessons from various representatives of several law enforcement agencies. The pass was closed several times last year due to snow and avalanches. Mid January, Targhee should be fairly empty. Least it seemed that way last year. Even some powder days the upper parking lot won't fill up mid week and a lot of the locals will head out by noon or shortly after. ( and you don't have to pay to park like across the hill!) Laid back friendly staff-people here are for the snow, not all the peripheral crap.
 

steve pickard

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My experience driving from Idaho Falls to Victor it can be pretty nasty during storms. The first time, going by way of Swan Valley on rt 26 they shut it down at Ririe because of wind and blowing snow. ( pretty common) Had to back track all the way to Pocatello and up 89 to Alpine then to Swan Valley. Another time they should have closed it and it was only by the grace of God I made it because the visibility was so bad. I've driven Teton Pass many times and though twisty turney I've never had trouble. If it's really bad you might want to stay in Jackson anyway till things settle down. FYI, Victor and Driggs are the bedroom communities for Jackson cause us working class folks can't afford to live in Jackson. Come 5 o'clock Teton Pass has rush hour style traffic going over to Idaho. And yes, AWD with snow tires is a good idea.
 

Lofcaudio

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While I can't offer any advice on the drive as I've only come from Jackson, I do want to chime in about Grand Targhee. I consider it to be one of the more underrated resorts that I have visited. I was skeptical before visiting as it doesn't have much in the way of lift-served vertical (1892). But what it lacks in that department, it makes up for in every other area that is meaningful to me. I also find that it combos well with Jackson Hole. Between the two, you've got every type of terrain possible but with varying snow conditions and crowd issues.

I am pretty sure that I was one of the "two" referenced earlier who opined that GT is more "fun" than JH.
 

AmyPJ

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Another thing that Targhee does right (both for skiing and MTB) is an incredible kid's zone, which we adults also take delight in playing in :daffy: I especially need a respite from skiing steeper terrain during the day, so I enjoyed heading to the bunny slope area to goof off and unwind a bit. I will say, I saw those steeps through the gates on the Sacajewea side and :eek:. I'd love to take a cat run over there, especially after biking in that area this summer and seeing that there's a lot of fairly tame, lower angle terrain that's cat accessed (from what I could tell--those who know better can correct me if I'm wrong.)

It's a neat mountain, and again, right up my alley as far as vibe and attitude. I did freeze my ASS off last season, as both days were below 10 degrees, so there were many hot toddy breaks taken. Hoping the visit this winter has some sunny days so I can see the view of the Tetons.

The snow had a different consistency than I've ever skied, too, probably partly due to the cold. It was very chalky, and fairly slow on the first day.

Can't wait to go back!
 

SpikeDog

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One of my favorite ski hills. Targhee in Mid-Jan is a solid bet for freshies every day. If you have some extra coin, try out their cat ski operation - it's awesome. A potential downside is that the Tetons, fantastic as they may be, could be invisible your entire trip. It's earned it's nickname "Grand Foggy."

There's a motel in the middle of town - Teton Pines - that's passable. I stayed there since some non-skiers wanted to wander in town, but I think the motels north of the ski hill road are a better bet. In your rental car, don't just have a window scraper. You'll need a brush or broom fer sure.
 

tch

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For those of you in the know: is Grand Targhee the Colorado equivalent of Powder Mt?
 

David Chaus

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For those of you in the know: is Grand Targhee the Colorado equivalent of Powder Mt?
No, because it’s not in Colorado, it’s in Wyoming, but kinda Idaho-ish.

Pow mow is more rustic, Targhee has nicer base facilities, plus decent lodging at the base. Targhee also has more consistent pitch top to bottom, plus some nice steeps (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly for example).

Where they are similar: uncrowded, great snow and decent quantities of it. Close to the Wasatch in terms of snowfall, maybe a little less fluffy but more consistent snowfall.
 

tch

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No, because it’s not in Colorado, it’s in Wyoming, but kinda Idaho-ish.
Yeah, sorry. Brain-locked up there for a minute.
Thanks for the info.
 

Muleski

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@Muleski or anyone else: where do you rent a car with snow tires?
I've been renting cars on ski trips in N.America since 1990 -- Calgary, Vancouver, Denver, SLC, SF, even Reno once -- and have never been able to get real snow tires, only "all-weather"
Sorry, I meant to respond earlier. Yeah, It's NOT easy. When we're in Jackson, we get to borrow a friends car. Pretty much cheating on that score. I have rented a Tahoe once, with new "all weather" tires and it was adequate for getting from downtown to the Village, etc. Weather helped. No way in heck would I take that over the Pass with any potential weather forecast.

I have rented before in CO, in Eagle, from Dollar, and I have been able to get a vehicle with snow tires, or "Snowflake" tires. I think I may have had one of very, very few in their fleet. Explorers, I think.
Probably the best rental experience that I have had in Denver is Silver Car. Audi A4 Quattro. No snows, but. ski rack that would handle our ski bags, and decent rubber. Decent price. Picked it up downtown.

My experience trying to get this done through any one of the car companies at any major airport has gotten me absolutely NOWHERE.

I friend who is a GMC dealer once offered to try to broker a deal through a dealer in my destination city. Never took him up on that. Sounded like a real long shot.
 

David Chaus

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Rather than snow tires, a simple solution is to pick up the car, note the tire size, head to a car parts of hardware store (even Wall Mart will do) and buy a set of chains. If you use the chains they will have been worth the purchase. Leave them in the trunk for the next lucky person and/or let the rental agent know and maybe they can use them for someone else. If you don’t use them, return them for a refund on the way back.
 

Muleski

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The chain plan works, for sure. But there's a pretty big range between feeling really good driving on a winter tire, and feeling like you need chains, at least in a lot of my ski vacation driving. Even if it's snowing heavily, I'd rather not think about chains between DIA and say, Steamboat. But if needed, I'd do it.

And since the winter tires are very elusive, the chains make good sense.

I've also checked out my rental car tires at the airport, and if the looked worn, asked them to find me another Tahoe, or whatever with better tread. Given how much they take you over the coals on the rental, they normally produce one.
 

Jim McDonald

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Thanks @Muleski & David
Gotta say it's quite a ripoff at the prices to rent in snow country and be told all-weathers are the only option :nono:
 

TonyC

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For those of you in the know: is Grand Targhee the Colorado equivalent of Powder Mt?
Ignoring the misplaced geography, these area have significant differences. Targhee gets much more snow and preserves it better at higher altitude. And as noted above Targhee has longer continuous fall lines. As quiet as Targhee is, Powder Mt. is even lower is skier density. Fresh snow at Powder Mt. is usually degraded by sun or wind before it gets tracked out.
 

agreen

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Just read this thread as I am very interested in checking out GT this season. I'd love to do the cat skiing as well and they have a 3 day ski camp that you can pay extra and do it on the 3rd day for a very decent price IMO. IIRC there is a shuttle bus from Driggs (and/or Victor? ) to the mountain. I like to let the locals do the driving if possible so I love places that have this option. I have a feeling GT has the vibe I'm looking for. I've always wanted to do a Pow Mow, Beav, GT trip and never stand in a liftline once!
 

slowrider

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Thanks for the info folks. Targhee is Winter.
 

PTskier

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I've also checked out my rental car tires at the airport, and if the looked worn, asked them to find me another
Very important point. I learned this lesson the hard way....

Car rental tip--there is no penalty for cancelling a refund (in my limited experience). Reserve the car you want, then a couple of days before your trip, check again. If one of the companies has a surplus of cars, they might be cheap. Make the new reservation and cancel the first one.
 

AmyPJ

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Targhee has almost a 5 foot base already. Since Utah resorts aren't slated to open for another 3 weeks, I've decided a trip to GT is in order the weekend of the 18th :D
Cannot BELIEVE they have that much snow already.
:yeah:
 
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