photo alamy.com/Joshua Roper
Often referred to as “the quiet side of the Tetons,” the Teton Valley mountain-town community is a mecca for first time travelers and long time visitors. Simply put, there is something for everyone under the banner of Old Man Winter’s wonderland.
Teton Valley is located along the eastern border of the Teton Range with the Big Hole Mountains to the west and, “Just over yonder, lies Jackson Hole,” as the saying goes. Carved by ancient glacial ice, the valley is home to generational pioneer farm and ranch families who mix and mingle among hardened, high-elevation adventurers. The valley straddles both Teton County, Wyoming, home to Grand Targhee Resort and Teton County, Idaho, whose smooth groomed trails lead to untouched and unimaginable views and vistas. Yes, even in the winter.
Averaging more than 160 inches of the world’s finest snow in the high country during the deep of winter, Teton Valley is home to three unique cities — Tetonia, Driggs and Victor, Idaho — and includes the small community of Alta, Wyoming.
Photo Courtesy Visit Idaho
The city of Driggs is at the heart of Teton Valley. Here you will find a thriving community, with Mugler Plaza at the center of its downtown. The plaza is named after Fred Mugler, who, along with his mountain supply store, perished in a 2004 fire that claimed much of Main Street. He—tongue-in-cheek—called Driggs “The Cultural Hub of the Universe.” In the center of town, find the Teton Geo Center, staffed with volunteers who help travelers navigate the area. The Teton Geo Center has a free museum that is a primer for first-time visitors and offers kid-friendly interactive displays.
Every third week in January, the Driggs Downtown Association hosts the Driggs Snowscapes, a showcase of world-renowned artists who create fantastical snow sculptures throughout the week. Grab some of the finest roasted beans around at Rise Coffee Shop or Wydaho Roasters and bundle up to witness some truly amazing works of art in the center town.
Driggs downtown shopping is a delightful mix of art galleries, outdoor adventure shops, gift boutiques and the must-see Corner Drug Store that has anchored Main Street for more than 100 years. Here you can find souvenirs, toys, books, sundries and an authentic old-fashioned soda fountain.
Teton Valley has attracted some of the finest chefs and foodies in the world. Forage Bistro & Lounge has been named to the Best of Teton Valley Restaurants by the website “Best of Jackson Hole.” King Sushi, a crowd favorite in Jackson Hole, recently opened a new location in Driggs. Reservations are highly recommended for both.
Perhaps Driggs’ best-kept local secret is the newly-established Figgie’s Deli just north of town. This is a sweet spot for grabbing a fresh sandwich on the run, or sitting in the bright shop looking out at the classic four-peak views of the Tetons. Family-friendly eateries include Provisions, a perfect stop for hotcakes or huevos rancheros in the morning, or O’Rourke’s Restaurant for hot pizza slices while watching the latest NFL games.
Photo Courtesy Linda Swope
The cities of Tetonia and Victor bookend the valley on the north and south, respectively. Victor is home to the Kotler Ice Arena, offering public ice skating hours (see tetonvalleyfoundation.org for its schedule). The arena sits in Sherman Park, a large public park that is groomed for Nordic skiing and fat biking in the winter. With 360-degree views of the Big Hole and Snake River Mountain ranges, there’s nothing like a sunset against the winter skies on the south end of the valley.
Next to the arena, Grand Teton Brewing is an intimate spot to get a real taste of the barley and hops grown in the valley. The Lodge at Bronze Buffalo Ranch, just down the road from the arena, offers a stunning escape from the chill. A popular location for locals and travelers alike, the lodge offers luxury hotel accommodations. Or, come for the day and dine on locally sourced, seasonal cuisine at its Bronze Buffalo Grille and find rest and respite with a full service salon, sauna, hot tubs and massages.
In the heart of Victor, the Knotty Pine Supper Club sets the winter beat with endless live music acts throughout the season. Dine on house-smoked ribs and chicken or listen to sounds on its stage that has hosted the likes of James McMurty, Yonder Mountain String Band and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.
The Dale Robson Memorial Snow Plane Rally is hosted in Tetonia on the third weekend of January at the Ruby Carlson Memorial Park. Under the old grain silos, the snow plane rally is the classic car show with a twist. Showcasing historical means of snow transportation, snow plane pilots come from near and far to offer neighbors and visitors alike an opportunity to ride away in history. With a picnic-like atmosphere, the city rolls out the works with hot potatoes for lunch around a warm bonfire.
The newly revived Tetonia Club on Main Street keeps the city humming with live music, featuring some of the valley’s best local musicians. Hang your cowboy hat up at the Badger Creek Cafe just across the street. The cafe serves up hot breakfasts and lunches with home-style cooking worth writing home about.
Photo Courtesy Visit Idaho
Alta, Wyoming, home to Grand Targhee Resort, is only accessible from Driggs. Heading east along Ski Hill Road, the Idaho/Wyoming state line is an invisible marker between the bustle of the city and access to thousands of square miles of U.S. forest land, ribboned with groomed trails lacing through snow-capped mountains.
As soon as the snow falls like pixie dust, Teton Valley Trails and Pathways maintains Teton Canyon, keeping the valley sparkling and bright. Whether on cross country skis, skate skis, a fat bike or in a good pair of winter boots, Teton Canyon promises unmatched views of the Grand Teton and its nearby mountain cathedrals.
While known for untracked powder and its promise of short lift lines, Grand Targhee Resort is more than just a ski hill. The base of the resort is warm and friendly, with crackling fires dotting the outdoor patios, a walk-up bar, a deli for hot cocoa and kid-friendly snacks. The Trap Bar & Grill provides live music, food and drinks to sip slopeside for visitors 21 and over. Shopping, massages and fine dining shape the mountain experience along with tour-guided snow-shoeing and miles of Nordic skiing. Go beyond the resort’s boundary and book a guided backcountry tour through the resort for more adventure in Old Man Winter’s wonderland.