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The Magic of Yellowstone in the Winter

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Yellowstone National Park. Working in the park after college really happened by accident. It was intended to be but a slight detour, a brief summer fling with Mother Nature, for this east coast urban dweller. However, living in the heart of Yellowstone changes one’s life in so many ways, making it nearly impossible to return to life as we once knew it. That stint in Yellowstone led to Victor, Idaho, and the Tetons, undoubtedly the most spectacular & unspoiled mountains in North America. I was smitten, still am. My story is not unique; it’s played over and over again by countless others in search of adventures in the Wild West.

Most of the staff at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa shares the same resume. Their stories vary, but basically, they’re here because they love this rich, rugged, and stunning environment. Their expertise and enthusiasm about this Yellowstone-Teton region proves time and time again to be an extra bonus for our guests as they’re excited to share a roadmap for adventure designed for our guests’ personal preferences. And now that Teton Springs is a Natural Retreats property, you can simply dial one number and instantly be talking to a concierge who will take one’s mountain vacation into high gear.

Another common thread in my resume is my love for beautiful hotels. In Yellowstone I had the pleasure of working at the Lake Hotel. This Grande Dame first opened in 1891 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, guaranteeing that future generations will also enjoy this treasure. Now, my heart belongs to Teton Springs Lodge & Spa, and while it’s only been serving guests since 2007, and thus not quite ready for the history books, it’s equally as captivating.

Travelers anxious to sample the countless things to do in our vast region arrive primarily during the summer months. I get that. For many of our guests, the attraction is Teton Springs Resort’s world-class Headwaters Golf Course, with its 360 degree mountain views and lakes teeming with native trout.

For others who land in eastern Idaho, it’s the extraordinary fly fishing that’s the main attraction. The South Fork Lodge, a sister to Teton Springs Lodge & Spa, is headquartered on the banks of the South Fork River, believed my many to hold the key to the best dry fly fishing in North America. No argument there.

And for others, the lure is a combination of the above, coupled with some of the incomparable outdoor recreation in the lower 48; hiking, mountain biking, river rafting, hot-air ballooning, horseback riding, music festivals, and the list goes on and on and on…

So, it’s easy to understand why there’s such an influx of visitors to this glorious playground when the sun-kissed days seem almost endless. I’d also venture to guess that just about everyone poking around in the Tetons throughout the summer has at least a one day trip planned for Yellowstone. Viewing the abundant wildlife in their natural habitat is worth the price of admission and then some. And, to take the guess work out of finding the best nooks and crannies to insure an encounter with a majestic moose, towering elk, or an elusive grizzly, it’s smart to book a Wildlife Safari with our partners Brushbuck Tours.

However, to truly lose oneself in the splendor of Yellowstone, I would suggest a winter trip. A guided snowmobile trip into our nation’s first national park on the back of a sled is like a magical mystery tour; you never know what’s around the next bend. It’s also a very intimate way to experience Old Faithful and an abundance of other less famous, but equally as striking steaming geysers. And be ready for the ultimate Kodak moments as you’ll often find yourself literally face to face with the bison that share the snowpack roadways.

I am always struck by the stark beauty and almost eerie stillness of the park when it’s blanketed with snow and the roadways are closed to all vehicles (except for snow coaches and snowmobiles of course). The National Park service limits the number of sleds entering the park each day, allowing for an abundance of solitude and a sereneness that’s challenging to experience on summer excursions when cars, motor homes & campers fill the roads. Yellowstone’s character is altered dramatically with the changing of the seasons, but one thing is constant, it always fills one with awe.

Our Natural Retreats experts are standing on alert and will take care of all trip essentials; reserving your top-of-the-line lodge suite or maybe a custom Hand Picked Log Home, and they’ll set you up on your Yellowstone discovery mission with our partners at Teton Valley Adventures. This local Teton Valley company is all about the service, and familiar with every twist and turn of Yellowstone. They’ll pick you up at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa, and you’ll travel north on eastern Idaho’s most scenic highway, from Victor to the west entrance of Yellowstone Park. You can also book a private tour, just you, your family and friends, and the bison of course.

There’s simply no place on earth like our Yellowstone-Teton territory in winter!

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Sliding Downhill is Only Part of the Winter Story at Teton Springs Lodge

O.K. It’s no secret that we arguably have the best snow conditions in the Northern Rockies – again! We’ve been down this road before – many, many times in fact. History has indeed given us legitimate boasting rights, if we’re so inclined. But even as Grand Targhee continues to post the big numbers on their snow stake, we still try to refrain from taking our good fortune for granted. But I must admit; it does take a lot of the pressure off for all those visitors who plan an annual holiday visit to Teton Springs Resort.

Folks traveling to their favorite ski destination this time of year have enough on their plate; it’s refreshing to scratch off worrying about snow conditions.

Holidays spent in the valley of the Tetons are extraordinarily special and snow filled slopes delivering terrific skiing and snowboarding is only part of the Christmas magic. Hopefully a new down-filled parka and a pair of the latest Smith gogglses are hidden under the tree as it’s almost time to head to Grand Targhee and take a run or two with Santa himself! The holiday crowds haven’t accumulated yet so it’s typically an intimate festive day, enjoying a chairlift ride or two with the local ski bums (giddy with holiday spirit, they may even share their secret powder stashes with you) and taking in the panoramic views from Targhee’s 10,000 summit. The resort puts on fabulous après ski entertainment to celebrate Christmas, the annual Torchlight Parade. Take a seat on the plaza and enjoy the show, complete with steaming cups of hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies.

You couldn’t ask for a more serene and lovely setting in which to enjoy this very special time of year than what’s offered at Teton Springs Resort. Snow-capped aspens, glistening lakes and ponds, and accommodations that have earned Teton Springs the “Number One Hotel in Idaho” award by U.S. News & World Report for three straight years. The lodge rooms and suites are cozy and elegant, but for this time of year, the Handpicked Homes would probably be my number one choice for the ultimate in accommodations. Three, four and five bedroom custom mountain log homes are nestled among the foothills of this 780 acre property snuggled up against the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, presenting a most distinctive private retreat, truly a home- away-from-home. What speaks to the holidays better?

Skiing over 2,000 acres of Grand Targhee’s terrain can easily wear one out, so, maybe a day exploring the Yellowstone-Teton area is in order.  One of my favorite things to do is hop in the van with the experts from Brushbuck Tours for a dawn or dusk Wildlife Tour in the splendor of Grand Teton National Park. Expect to be wowed with multiple viewings of moose, buffalo, elk, deer, and antelope, and that’s usually within the first half hour!  I usually take the early tour, leaving plenty of time to explore the eclectic array of retail dotting Jackson’s Town Square.

There’s also a full-day excursion available that includes a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge, located on the outskirts of Jackson Hole. Prepared to be wowed.

An evening at the Linn Canyon Ranch, just minutes from Teton Springs, is another time honored tradition for Teton Springs visitors. Snuggled in the foothills of the Grand Teton Mountains, this setting is truly something right of out of a Hollywood set, but everything is strikingly real about this place, especially the owner/operators. Going back generations, Linn family members have been Idaho & Wyoming ranchers and their hospitality and culinary skills are enviable. Cocktail hour includes historical tales of Teton Valley and its rich characters. Dinner with the Linn’s never disappoints.

A brisk ski on the groomed tract at Teton Springs, or a snowshoe jaunt with the Big Hole Mountain at your back, is another relaxing way to spend one’s day. Check out all the Winter activities available to you while you stay with us at Teton Springs Lodge.

Or, simply do nothing at all but indulge yourself at the resort’s Stillwaters Spa & Salon. This gorgeous retreat, with its 5,000 square feet of treatment space, is guaranteed to make your Idaho visit a true vacation, in every sense of the word. You can expect the finest spa treatments and products at Stillwaters, and Aveda, a brand recognized worldwide for connecting beauty, the environment and well-being, has recently been added to the arsenal of products you’ll find at this spa.

Join us at Teton Springs for an OPEN HOUSE to showcase AVEDA Friday, December 19, 2-6 p.m. – Enjoy complimentary Christmas goodies, a glass of bubbly, hors d’oeuvres, a luxurious hand massage and a chance to win AVEDA SAMPLE PRODUCTS!

There’s more…

  • December 19-21 – Purchase $50 of Aveda product and receive 10% off
  • Purchase $100 of Aveda product and receive 20% off

Happy Holidays from your friends at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa a Natural Retreats property

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Our Very Own Victor Idaho Sports a New Big City Stoplight!

Pinch me, I must be dreaming! We’re getting into the waning days of October and up until a few days ago, we were still hiking in t-shirts, spending lazy afternoons on the South Fork enticing the rainbows into the boat with the perfect hopper, and committing to memory just how gorgeous the fall foliage was this year. In fact, one of my favorite hikes this time of year takes you to the rim overlooking the South Fork, watching the drift boats from our sister resort, South Fork Lodge, float lazily by, knowing they too are on borrowed time.

Teton Springs Lodge guests recently enjoyed their final 18 holes of the season on the resort’s Headwaters Course, with the bright gold aspens lining the fairways. Well, the aspens are shedding their leaves and the staff is putting this baby to bed for the year, and what a terrific season it was with Headwaters posting record rounds on this Byron Nelson masterpiece. I’m already looking forward to teeing it off next spring and so are the groups who have already booked their golf Stay & Play Packages for 2015!

The incredible weather also gave relief to the workers installing Victor’s first stop light. Rather than simply drifting thru the stop sign on Highway 33, one has to pay attention now when they come to this crossroad with a right turn over Teton Pass to Jackson Hole, or swinging a left heading thru Teton Valley and beyond. I never thought I’d see the day when Victor would actually need a stop light, but summer traffic heading north on Idaho’s scenic byway to check out Mesa Falls and other east Idaho treasurers, and southeast to the most prominent destinations in the country, Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, truly dictated we join the ranks of the real world. Progress I guess, but I sincerely doubt that this entry into the 21st century, in any way, threatens the small-town charm and idyllic lifestyle that defines Victor.

The buzz on the street is that winter is creeping around the corner, and that’s o.k. It’s time. And, to make the transition easier, we’re getting primed by the annual ski extravaganzas that fill the local movie screens this time of year. This season we have another premier to attend other than the highly anticipated Teton Gravity Research flick. This is a show that is guaranteed to get the ski juices going in both sexes. “Pretty Faces,” an all-female flick starring Pro freeskier Lynsey Dyer, one of the best freeskiers in the nation, was recently screened in Jackson to rave reviews. It’s about time, and only fitting that the Equality State had first dibs on unveiling “Pretty Faces” to the waiting public. What terrific inspiration to young female shredders everywhere. Finally it’s totally cool to ski like a girl!

However, it doesn’t take a thrills and spills ski movie to get everyone at Teton Springs excited about the upcoming heli ski season. Powder snow aficionados undoubtedly dream about cruising thru the Tetons finest fluff long before the first flake appears. This backcountry experience should be on everyone’s bucket list.

With Thanksgiving in our sites, it’s time to book that holiday weekend at Teton Springs Lodge & Spa. The very popular “book two nights and the third is FREE” winter vacation package remains intact, much to skiers and snowboarders delight. Grand Targhee has every intention of accommodating snow sliders with a projected opening the week before turkey day.

If any resort in North America can pull it off, it’s Grand Targhee. Their projected 500 inches of snowfall this season isn’t simply a delusional wish, it’s a stat born of history. This free night package special at Teton Springs during Thanksgiving isn’t just valid in the elegant lodge rooms and suites, but also works if you’re looking to upgrade to one of their luxury mountain log homes.

Officially referred to as “Handpicked Homes,” by Lodge operator Natural Retreats, calling these elegant homes “Handpicked” is a great way to separate these incredible custom built homes from the ho-hum lodging fare one usually finds in most tourist destinations.

Sometimes referred to as “cabins” by resort staff, these are not cabins in any stretch of the imagination. While the three, four and five luxury cabins at Teton Springs may be of log construction, the comparison to log cabins as most of us envision them literally ends there.

These gorgeous, well-appointed homes indeed provide the optimum home-away-from-home setting for winter ski enthusiasts, and, the perfect holiday gift for a family or group of skip buddies looking to start the festive season in the lap of affordable luxury.

So, let the training regime begin to strengthen your core, and most likely, dormant muscles. You’ll need to be ready for what promises to be the ride of your life. A winter of pure bliss is ahead of us in Teton Valley, beneath the grandeur of the Grand Tetons. Priceless…

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