Where to ski if you want empty slopes that won't break the bank

Following our amazing cat-skiing experience in Silverton last year, I now always look at cat skiing options in ski resorts and research for Jackson revealed that the nearest operator was in Grand Targhee...which markets itself as a "powder paradise." 

Just over an hour's drive from Jackson Hole HOW could we NOT go and check it out with a tagline like that?! 

Having checked with our guide and picked up some tips from other skiers at Jackson Hole, we were confident that it was going to be a trip worth taking so hired a car for the day and stocked up on snacks ready for a road trip! 

There are two ways you can get to GT from Jackson Hole (if you're not local) - on the bus or by hiring a car. We chose the later because at $80 for day (and that was booking literally the night before we wanted to go) the car worked out at pretty much the same price as the bus for the two of us and meant that we had the freedom to go on our own time (the bus leaves at the crack of sparrows in the morning.) Also, Jackson Hole has two hire car offices RIGHT in the centre of town, so all we had to do was walk down the street from our hotel in the morning to pick up our wheels for the day. 

Ready to roll we hit the highway (armed with vats Pearl St Bagel shop coffee - obvs. I still miss it now). It was a gorgeous, clear day when we turned onto the Teton Pass and the views were absolutely spectacular.

driving Teton pass

The mountain sides around us were covered in ski tracks and there were lay-by's full of eager beavers setting off on their skins for a day walking up hill in pursuit of a powdery run down. Walking up hill can't be too bad when you get to stop and look at this when you need a rest...

We continued onwards to Idaho! 

An hour later we started out short climb to the resort, arriving into a small car park, surrounded by wide, empty slopes. I honestly couldn't believe my eyes. Where was everyone?! It was a blue bird day, the freshly groomed snow glistening in the sunshine, and there was hardly a soul to be seen! 

We pretty much ran from the car to the ticket booth to grab our passes (which are nearly half the price of Jackson Hole) and leapt onto a chair lift in pursuit of some corduroy. 

It honestly doesn't get much better than this. Targhee is a small resort but the 5 lifts service no less than 95 runs, not including the easily accessible back country. The trails are wide, steep and offer sweeping views of the surrounding plains in one direction, and the jagged Teton's in the other. 

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That's if you get a clear day of course, which, it should be noted, is apparently not the norm here. Grand Targhee tends to be quite foggy and locals will tell you that

"if you can see, you're not in the 'ghee.

It's a good thing there's plenty of tree skiing then, and I imagine this place is fairly awesome even when the visibility isn't great.

We lucked out and even 2 days after the snow storm there were still plenty of pockets of powder to be found. We had no intention of hiking after our escapades in Jackson's backcountry the day before, but when we stumbled upon the entrance to Mary's Nipple, the resorts most famed backcountry bowl, overshadowed by Grand Teton in the background, we couldn't turn away. It was worth it.

 Awesome views of Grand Teton in the background

Awesome views of Grand Teton in the background

A few more laps of the empty runs and we were ready for a beer before the journey home.

A day trip to Grand Targhee

If you're in Jackson Hole for a few days, I cannot recommend a day in Grand Targhee enough. In fact, just plan it into your trip from the get-go. You won't regret it.

Jackson Hole's best kept secret