Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Grant Targhee, the snow magnet, is the place to be right now; great destination for the holidays

Monday was a powder day at Grand Targhee. That's Quinn between the cars. 
Waiting for the patrol to drop the rope at 9 a.m. Everyone was excited. 
Mountain map ... click to enlarge
Hi all,

If you've been thinking about planning a ski vacation for the holidays, Grand Targhee is a sure bet right now, with plenty of snow (67-inch base) and some excellent ski-and-stay lodging deals. The rooms are filling up quickly, though, so you should act fast.

My son, Quinn, and I skied Targhee on Monday. We were in Idaho Falls for a hockey tournament over the previous weekend, and decided to play hooky. Six inches of snow had fallen the day before, and 12 inches were forecast for Monday. We were psyched for a big powder day.

We stayed at Targhee the night before in the Teewinot lodge, and I had time to take a nice long hot tub before dinner. There were a bunch of folks soaking in the spacious outdoor tub, and they were all psyched about the ski day on Sunday. One woman was there from Denver, and she had gone cat skiing for the day.
Deep powder! 
"Best ski day of my life," she said. The snow had been knee- to waist-deep in the backcountry surrounding Targhee, and the *pow* was nice and light. She nailed it. "It's nice to be able to ski here cuz there's hardly any snow in Colorado."

Other folks in the tub were from Minnesota and Wisconsin, and several others were from Colorado as well. They had done their Internet research, and Targhee was -- and still is -- the place to be.

Quinn and I were ready to go when the patrol dropped the rope for the Sacajawea lift, which serves Peaked Mountain. High winds were forecast for Monday, so we figured that area might be a little more out of the wind than the main Dreamcatcher lift, which goes to the top of Fred's Mountain. Turns out, Dreamcatcher never opened Monday because of high winds, so EVERYONE went to Sacajawea and the new powder got skied up pretty darn quick, even on a Monday!

Nevertheless, we took the Dreamweaver run down the ridge, and then drop into Quiver, a black-diamond glade skiing area, and found fresh pockets of powder for several hours. By noon, Peaked had been carved up pretty good. I wished we had been able to stay for several more days ... I bet Tuesday was phenomenal once they opened the other lifts.
On a clear day, the views from the top of Grand Targhee are totally spectacular.
I've been a big fan of Grand Targhee for decades. I remember years when the snowpack was thin in Idaho and the region, and Targhee always seemed to have the most snow. It's located near the Continental Divide, and when the storms circulate into the Northern Rockies, Targhee seems to be  ideally situated in a zone where they get hit with a ton of snow, one wave after the next. The base area is at 7,800 feet (which is 200 feet higher than the summit of Bogus Basin), so that means that Targhee will get snow even when the snow level is at 7,000 feet, like it was earlier this month. Average annual snowfall is 500+ inches -- that's over 41 feet!

Here are a link to a YouTube video of skiing/riding at Targhee.

It's also a great place to ski for a powder hound. The slopes are mostly wide open, with a little grooming here and there, and tons of tree-skiing everywhere. With a continuous vertical drop of 2,176 feet, it'll make your legs burn. Targhee added a lift on Peaked Mountain a number of years ago, so that really adds to the terrain as well. Before that lift was built, I used to skin up Peaked on my tele skis and ski untouched powder after the slopes got carved up.

Targhee also has 15 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails immediately adjacent to the base area, an outdoor pool and hot tub, on-mountain ski-in ski-out lodging and dining, snowcat skiing and a tubing hill. Basically all of the amenities are there for families or adults.

Right now, the best lodging deals include:

  • Stay four nights or more, and you ski free at a rate of $55 per person per night. 
  • Stay three nights and get the 4th night free. 
  • Combination snowcat trips and lodging specials are available through the holidays and in January, there are some screaming-good deals available.  
How to get there: Grand Targhee is located near Driggs, Idaho. Quickest way to get there from Boise is to take I-84 to Idaho Falls, U.S. 26 to Swan Valley, ID 31 to Victor, and ID 33 to Driggs. It takes about 5.5 to 6 hours to get there, depending on road conditions and how fast you drive. 

Last weekend, a number of my friends headed over to Sun Valley to take advantage ski-and-stay deals for $79 per day. That was smart because those lodging deals end tomorrow (Dec. 20), and rates go up for the Christmas holiday. Still, Sun Valley also has good snow coverage with 55 inches on top and 36 inches at mid-mountain. They have opened Seattle Ridge as well.

Brundage Mountain has 71 inches at the summit, so they have excellent snowpack. I'm sure a lot of people will be heading to McCall for the holidays. Tamarack is reporting 16-61 inches of snow. They've got some great lodging specials going on right now. Glad to hear Bogus Basin will open Friday. I recommend taking your rock skis.

Have fun! I'll be doing another blog this week on last-minute Christmas gift ideas for outdoorsy guys and women.  
- SS

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