Elevation: 10,040 feet Vertical Drop: 2,050 feet Snowfall: 500 inches Getting There: Fly to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, or Idaho Falls, Idaho (often cheaper). It's about an hour drive from Jackson over Teton Pass. Drive time from Idaho Falls is 11/2 hours. Info: 800-TARGHEE, grandtarghee.com
The Beta: Grand Targhee is the kind of place where the snow, not the scene, is what matters. With a whopping 500 inches of frozen precip a year (on par with Alta) and slopes that are all but empty, you'll spend more time skiing powder and less time waiting in line for it. You also get sweet views of the badass western side of the Tetons, a new high-speed quad on Peaked Mountain that added 500 acres of terrain, and lift-ops who'll massage your shoulders (if you're a girl). Targhee doesn't have huge bowls, epic bump runs, or an expansive back side. But it does have glades, from thick spruce to small stands of aspen, and rock-lined chutes. And with the new Sacajawea lift, you can now access a gnarly cliff band with a dozen hairy routes.
The party scene here is like Paris. Paris, Maine, that is. The highlight of your night will be when somebody en route to the head at the Trap trips over his ski boots and tumbles onto the dance floor. Fortunately, Targhee is so small, a hotel room is only a four-minute stumble away.
Be at the Dreamcatcher quad before 9:30 a.m. (regular opening time). If patrol is done with its control work before then, and there's a line (which there will be), the lift will likely open earlier. From the top, take a right, aiming for the chutes to skier's left of Crazy Horse. Take a run in each: Instructor's Chute, Patrol Chute, and Nasty Gash. In the afternoon, weave through the well-spaced woods on the lower slopes of Blackfoot Bowl and at the bottom of Fred's, between South Street and the Dreamcatcher quad.
3 Days Later
Head for the upper reaches of Chief Joseph Bowl-which is skier's right from the top of Dreamcatcher-and hit The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, steep tree-lined slots just wide enough to avoid head-ons with bark and branch. Next, do laps off the Blackfoot lift, working your way skier's right toward North Boundary. For guaranteed fresh, book a snowcat trip on Peaked Mountain ($299 per day, with two meals; 800-TARGHEE, ext.1355), where you'll have 1,000 acres of steeps and glades to share with maybe nine other skiers.
If it's corn you seek, head for Blackfoot Bowl and Arrowhead-both south- facing-before 11 a.m. Sun also bakes Crazy Horse, but the sticky slush on the bottom of Teton Vista Traverse can be a drag. Literally. (Stow rub-on wax in your parka pocket.)
Though Targhee doesn't have any manmade pipes or parks, the natural terrain makes up for it. Head down The Face on Fred's to Ladies Waist, a halfpipe sculpted by Mother Nature and groomed by man.
Marquee route:Patrol Chute and Instructor's Chute are the two you'll tell your buddies about back home. They're both short but steep and narrow enough to give you that gulpy feeling the whole way down.
Off-broadway: The most difficult lines at Targhee are scattered along the band of cliffs skirting the north side of Peaked Mountain. Start with Das Boat, a short 45-degree shot near the bottom of the cliff band, accessible from Sacajawea. From the top, start downslope, then bang a sharp right. Stop where the earth falls away, then proceed with caution.
Drinking & Dancing
Whether you're looking for live music, tasty microbrews, or the Broncos' game, the Trap Bar (307-353-2300, x 1360), located roughly 10 steps from the ticket window, is your best bet. If it's late-night table-dancing you're after, hit tthe Knotty Pine (208-787-2866) in Victor (eight miles south of Driggs). But be prepared to mix with nail-pounders and motorheads from Idaho Falls. Or drive the 42 miles to Jackson, which has 10 times the nightlife of Targhee.
For pastries and coffee, head for Snorkel's on the mountain. At dinnertime, protein-load at the Targhee Steakhouse (307-353-2300, x1368), at the base. Have we mentioned the Trap yet? It's open for lunch and dinner (order the buffalo stew).
Though the options for shelter at the base are limited, the deals can be good. The Targhee Lodge ($147) is basic-two queen beds and a shower-but you can ski to your room. Teewinot Lodge ($189) has a community fireplace and hot tubs. At the luxury end (by Targhee standards), Sioux Loft Condos ($318) include bi-level units with open lofts, kitchenettes, and in-room fireplaces. For all properties, call 800-TARGHEE.
If you're staying in Jackson and commuting to Targhee, bring tire chains for Teton Pass. Its 10 percent grade can make for white-knuckle winter-driving conditions.
Mary's Nipple is the backcountry area at Targhee. Though it lies within the resort's permit area, it's accessible only through controlled gates. Once there you'll find spacious tree runs, launching pads for mini-airs, and great spring corn. To reach it, follow the Teton Vista Traverse south from Dreamcatcher to the boundary gate. If the gate's open-it usually is-hike 15 minutes to the top. If you ski south or east toward the Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area, your options are limitless. For the latest backcountry info, call Bridger-Teton National Forest (307-739-5500).
The famous storms that pound the west side of the Teton Range can also sock Targhee in the thickest of white, earning it the nickname "Grand Foghee." For cutting through the gloom, you'll need goggles with X-ray vision like the Oakley A-Frame ($120; oakley.com) with a high-intensity persimmon lens.