Westside Story

21 May 2024

The “quiet side” of Teton Valley has plenty to offer

Summer/Fall 2024

Written By: Melissa Thomasma | Images: Courtesy Visit Idaho

Had you been making your visit to Jackson Hole a century ago, there’s a good chance you would have made much of that journey via train. The closest stop? Victor — tucked into the southern end of Teton Valley, Idaho. Local legend has it that before this infusion of industrialized “civilization,” the valley’s remote location made it a favorite haven of scofflaws and ruffians living on the lam.

A spur of the Oregon Short Line — part of the West’s widespread Union Pacific network of railways — the train began delivering visitors in late 1912. Of course, the grind of crossing Teton Pass still lay ahead, if you wanted to reach the heart of Jackson.

Though the Victor depot’s final whistle blew in the late 1960s, the community continued to flourish on the western slope of the Teton Range. Compared to the bustle of Jackson, it’s always been considered a little quieter. A touch more relaxed. And it’s just that energy that’s proven irresistible over the last few decades. In 1980, the county’s population tallied under 3,000. Today, it’s home to 10,000 more.

Even so, Teton Valley has continued to embrace its identity as the “quiet side” of the mountains; a quality that it proudly touts to locals and visitors alike. While you can’t hop a train to Victor anymore, you certainly shouldn’t miss some of the summertime happenings in the valley next door.

ASHTON TO TETONIA RAIL TRAIL

Just because you can’t ride the rail on a train doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the route that brought many visitors to the area over the decades. Completed in 2010, the nearly 30-mile trail follows the historic train route: over trestle bridges spanning crystal creeks, through old-growth forests, and along scenic ridgelines. It’s an excellent place for biking — easily accessible for the whole family — or to lace up your boots and take a hike.

TETON VALLEY RODEO

Every Friday night at 8 p.m., the Teton County Fairgrounds in Driggs is abuzz. In true Old West style, the county’s rodeo brings plenty of rowdy entertainment, food and fun. From barrel racing and roping to fearless bull riders and untamed broncs, it’s an unforgettable experience.

MUSIC ON MAIN

A true local favorite, this weekly music lineup is on everyone’s Thursday night calendar. Enjoy food from local food trucks, locally crafted microbrew beer, and fantastic live music in Victor Park. And this family-friendly concert won’t break the bank; it’s just a $5 donation to get in. Past artists have included the Young Dubliners, The Ghost of Paul Revere, James McMurtry, Reckless Kelly and dozens more.

TARGHEE BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL

Now in its 34th year, this long-standing celebration of the nation’s greatest bluegrass musicians runs from Aug. 9-11. The 2024 lineup includes The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams and more. Outside of the festival weekend, Grand Targhee offers a wide array of other events and activities, too. From disc golf and mountain biking to swimming and horseback riding, there’s no shortage of fun to be had at this Alta-based resort.

CAST A LINE

On a hot summer afternoon, there’s no place bet- ter to be than floating on the river. Teton Valley has no shortage of exceptional trout fishing — even if you’ve never tried before! Join a seasoned guide from one of the valley’s fly shops and let them show you the ins and outs of the valley’s spectacular waterways, as well as how to get acquainted with their wild aquatic inhabitants.

SADDLE UP

What better way to embrace your inner cowgirl (or cowboy) than to climb onto a trusty pony? Several outfitters around Teton Valley offer trail riding expe- riences of varying lengths into the Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee national forests. It’s a spectacular way to explore the vast network of trails that weaves throughout the beautiful woods and mountain meadows — as well as to enjoy some unforgettable views.

PICNIC AT PALISADES

A short drive from Victor, you’ll find Palisades Reser- voir, the lake that feeds into the spectacular South Fork of the Snake River. There are plenty of access points to reach the lakeside, and it’s an ideal spot to ditch the crowds and enjoy an old-fashioned picnic. You can make your own, of course, or you can pop into the Victor Market and snag a few gourmet sandwiches and sides to fill your basket. Swim, skip stones, watch the clouds slide by — it’s all good.

SIP SOME LOCAL FLAVOR

Teton Valley is home to some exceptionally crafted beer and liquor. Grand Teton Distillery, founded in 2011, is a small-batch distillery, utilizing mountain water and locally sourced ingredients. Book a free tour and tasting online, and peek behind the curtain on how they make potato vodka, huckleberry vodka and a variety of whiskeys. (All ages welcome tours, 21+ only for tastings.)

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