National Elk Refuge
A Fun Day-Trip from Teton Springs Lodge
Winter visitors to Teton Springs Lodge & Spa in quaint Victor, Idaho, undoubtedly arrive with visions of skiing, snowboarding & snowmobiling through light, dry, fluffy Rocky Mountain cured powder snow.
Grand Targhee, a nearby neighbor located in nearby Alta, Wyoming, has been delighting snow afficionados with their stellar conditions since the first lifts went round & round in December of 1969. It instantly became a family-favorite destination given its low-key vibe with an extensive menu of gentle, child-friendly slopes as well as plenty of challenging terrain to suit all levels of downhill sliding proficiency.
Despite it being technically located across the state line in Wyoming, one has to access Targhee exclusively through Idaho. Thus, the Governor of Idaho proudly dedicated this resort in early 1970 as one of Idaho’s own. And given that Targhee is indeed nestled in the corner of the Cowboy State, Targhee also enjoys being touted as one of Wyoming’s premier ski resorts.
With its base area at 8,000 feet with much of the terrain primarily above tree line, this mountain sports eye-popping views of the valley below and a magnificent glimpse of the Grand Tetons from its summit. With its wide-open terrain and as many would argue, the softest snow in the west, it was destined that this gem would delight beginner & intermediate snow sliders for years to come. Most notable ski areas, especially in the current era, are created by real-estate developers or corporate entities that gobble up area after area, of all shapes and sizes, to build on their ever-growing arsenal of reputable resorts. Grand Targhee is a notable exception to this phenomenon.
Back in the early 1960’s, Grand Targhee was conceived of and developed heroically through the lens of local residents. Most were farmers turned visionaries, who possessed the foresight to imagine what effect having a destination resort in their backyard could mean for this agriculturally based community. The valley at this time in history was in much need of a significant economic engine, one that could provide reliable employment and stability for Teton Valley’s future generations to enjoy. Through the years new owners came and went but fortunately, Grand Targhee has remained to this day a family-owned business. This family was not only struck by the beauty of the Tetons and reliable snow conditions, but they also instinctively understood what this resort tucked away in the corner of Wyoming, meant to its patrons. It represented at first glance; a place where families, like their own, could affordably spend precious time together pursuing the sports they loved in the most pristine of environments.
Teton Springs guests will often plan a trip across Teton Pass to explore Jackson Hole, a renowned destination known to visitors from around the globe. While many venture over to the east side of the Tetons to experience the reputable Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, itself a ski mecca known for its rugged, untamed mountain, or to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. However, another star attraction should always be on guests’ radar during the winter months and that is the Elk Refuge. Located on the outskirts of the town of Jackson, the National Elk Refuge is a unique and awe-inspiring swatch of land totally dedicated to feeding the thousands upon thousands of elk that escape winter’s harshness to settle on the valley floor.
A successful rancher back in the early 1900’s lived in Jackson at this time when elk migrated down from the mountains and wintered in his home town. A devout conservationist concerned about the elk surviving Wyoming’s unforgiving winter weather, he documented through his personal journals and photographs the plight of these massive elk herds. What had become an effort then by local residents to feed the elk, helped in part by Wyoming’s governing powers, this program evolved through the years to a permanent solution to save the elk, but now on a much grander scale. The Elk Refuge is increasingly becoming a major tourist attraction given its uniqueness in providing an opportunity to view up-close-and-personal these magnificent animals.
Visitors bundled up in blankets cruise through the elf refuge on horse-drawn sleighs with interesting commentary provided by one of the many interesting characters driving this train. As you travel through the Elk Refuge, you’re soon eye to eye with these majestic creatures and if you keep your eyes peeled, you may just see Bighorn Sheep off in the distance. The Elk Refuge experience presents a most unique opportunity of seeing a variety of wildlife in their natural setting. It never ceases to delight visitors to Teton Springs Lodge & Spa.
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