COVID adjustments mean more tailgate time and advance ticket purchase
A long dry fall ended this month with over a week of steady snowfall, leaving Grand Targhee reporting over two foot at the Chief Joe plot as of Monday. The ski hill is poised to open on schedule this Friday, Nov. 20 but will likely feel a little different this year, thanks to coronavirus.
“People have to come prepared for winter,” resort marketing director Jennie White said, explaining some of the operational changes. “We can’t all congregate and stay warm or dry off inside anymore. Guests need to be in and be out, and be respectful of the time spent indoors. We’re going back to what skiing used to be—embracing winter.”
That means a lot of time outside, enjoying tailgate picnics, sitting by one of the fire pits in the plaza, and partaking of tacos from the food truck that was just installed next to the Trap Bar deck.
Until recently, Grand Targhee has said it would not capping daily ticket sales or creating a reservation system as many other resorts around the country have, but on Nov. 12 announced via email that advanced ticket purchase is required. Online ticket sales launched on the morning of Nov. 18.
“Quantities will be limited and may sell out at any time,” the email reads. “At this time, we will not require season passholders, friends and family lift tickets (purchased with season passholder pass), Mountain Collective passholders, or complimentary tickets to book in advance (please come to the ticket window as usual).”
Parking lot capacity has plagued the resort for several seasons and now seems even more pressing, as outdoor recreation to grow in popularity but COVID makes people reluctant to carpool or ride the shuttle.
Rather than beginning to charge for parking, White said the resort is offering a more robust communication system around parking this year, with a text messaging program (text GTROPS to 64600 to get info on operations, parking, and lift status; text GTRSHUTTLE to 64600 to get shuttle status updates), road information signs on routes to the resort, and the potential for a turnaround point at Teton Canyon when all the lots are full.
“It’s a more proactive approach to have a road block at Teton Canyon instead of allowing congestion higher on Ski Hill Road,” White said. “It gives the shuttle and emergency vehicles the opportunity to get through.”
The shuttle schedule is being finalized but there will be service to Victor again this year. The shuttle is free to ride for season passholders and lodging guests. Face masks are required on the shuttle.
“It’s hard and it’s scary with COVID still at the forefront,” White said. “We’re just asking for patience and understanding, and we’re trying to keep that Targhee vibe alive.”
The resort is closed to uphill traffic until opening day. Grand Targhee’s uphill policy while the resort is open is outlined on its website.