This Hidden Gem Ski Destination In Idaho May Soon Lose Its Small Town Spirit

While bucket list destinations like Paris and the Taj Mahal are popular for countless reasons, many travelers are always on the hunt for hidden gems, too. Sometimes it is because of the calm atmospheres that fewer crowds allow, but a common added bonus is also the lower costs. As a place gains popularity, the cost of housing, activities, restaurant meals, and lodging increases for both tourists and locals. This is what the phrase "priced out of paradise" means. Examples that come to mind are Hawaii and Montana, where several celebrities and other wealthy people have bought lavish homes, driving up the cost of living for other residents. 

Another picturesque part of the United States seeing major changes due to increased popularity is Driggs, Idaho, previously one of America's underrated small towns near the state's border with Wyoming. Driggs is appealing because of its quaint charm and incredible scenery overlooking the Teton Range — the town could definitely be a setting for a Hallmark movie. Its proximity to the Grand Targhee ski resort makes Driggs an increasingly popular destination for winter adventurers and has contributed to the town's recent growth, which has caused some concern among locals and regular visitors.

Grand Targhee ski resort has expanded its facilities in recent years

The Grand Targhee ski resort has dozens of trails ranging from easy to difficult. The summer months also draw in visitors as the resort has a pool, a bike park, and a chairlift leading to expansive mountain views. The recent changes at Grand Targhee reflect its success. Over the past few years, the ski resort has renovated its Teewinot Lodge, added more parking spaces, and implemented shuttle bus services. Grand Targhee has even added new lifts for skiers, and the Sacajawea lift alone can transport up to 2,000 skiers per hour. But as Grand Targhee grows, so does Driggs.

The Grand Targhee ski resort in Wyoming is less than 30 minutes from Driggs, making it a convenient home base for anyone planning the perfect ski trip. Therefore, the town has seen rapid growth to accommodate more tourists. In February of 2024, Jackson Hole News and Guide explained that realtors and city planners have recently discussed plans for a large Marriott hotel on Driggs' Main Street, a street that might soon be widened as well.

Popularity could change the small town environment in Driggs

Driggs will also need to accommodate more people hoping to move to the town. According to Tom Kilpatrick of The Manual, housing prices in Driggs have increased by 80% since 2020, with some properties selling for upwards of $3 million. Builders also recently completed nearly 100 brand new luxury homes with more to come in the near future. This offers excellent business and employment opportunities for some locals, but can also make buying a home unaffordable for others.

Kilpatrick explains that while Driggs still has the hidden gem, small-town feel wherein "your bartender will know you by name after a couple of days," this won't be the case as the town's popularity further increases. "Local hotspots will take on that bougie edge that deters the locals," he says. "There is a need for ski resorts to grow if they're going to survive, and this expansion naturally impacts local towns, but how long can we keep growing ski towns before we realize that we've lost the essence of what made these places magical?"