In 1936, deep in south-central Idaho’s jagged Sawtooth Mountains, Sun Valley Resort spun the world’s very first chairlift. For 81 years, the resort has been offering up some of the best skiing in the western United States on Bald and Dollar mountains, the two peaks that make up the resort.
Obviously, the sunny, snowy resort town is steeped in history. Ernest Hemingway completed his famous novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, while staying at the Sun Valley Lodge in 1939. Pale Rider (1985) starring Clint Eastwood was filmed in Sun Valley. Warren Miller began his illustrious ski film career while camping in the Bald Mountain parking lot. Ski movie-maker Dick Barrymore called Sun Valley home for many years. Smith Optics, which invented the first dual lens, anti-fogging goggle, was founded there. Gretchen Fraser, the first woman to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics, grew up in town. In fact, 39 living Olympians reside in Sun Valley. Freeskiing icons Reggie and Zach Crist, Lynsey Dyer, Lexi Dupont, Karl Fostvedt, Banks Gilberti and Collin Collins all hail from the area.
For the 2017-18 ski season, Sun Valley will give a nod to its wonderful history while making key updates and renovations. The Sun Valley Inn has welcomed weary skiers into its beds since 1937 and its rooms will receive a remodel, while maintaining the same traditional European Alps-inspired décor it’s always had. The Ram, one of the resort’s original dining establishments, will also receive a facelift in the form of a new kitchen, updated furniture and new floors, but that original look and feel will remain the same.
On the mountain, the Cold Springs lift, the resort’s oldest operating chairlift, will be replaced with a detachable quad that will rise 1,525 vertical feet in six minutes.
Sun Valley will also be expanding its terrain offerings with a new zone off of Seattle Ridge, on the far skier’s right of the mountain. Eager skiers will be able to drop into Turkey Bowl and access a whole new world of steep tree skiing, bumping the resort’s skiable acreage up to 2,434 acres. While the terrain won’t be open to the public until 2018-19, Sun Valley is offering guided tours for expert skiers in the new Cold Springs area beginning in January.
The results of our reader-ranked survey ranking the top 15 resorts in Western North America. SKI Magazine Editors September 22, 2017
“Tradition, ambiance, great customer service, efficient lifts, beautiful location, amazing grooming… there is, quite simply, no place like it.” -SKI Magazine
Other rankings included in the 2017-2018 SKI Magazine Readers Poll include:
Après-Ski & Nightlife: #4
Catch the full article in the print issue of SKI Magazine. Online articles can be found here: https://www.skimag.com/ski-resort-life/sun-valley
Photo Courtesy of Jay Dash / Sun Valley Resort.
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 to Sunday, Oct 22, 2017
Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival
Five days. Forty Bands. One Million Smiles
Wednesday, October 4th through Sunday, October 8th 2017
The Trailing of the Sheep Festival was started in 1996 in response to the rapid loss of farms and ranches and the rapid growth in the Wood River Valley. The Festival preserves the stories and colorful history of sheep ranchers and herders, celebrates the rich cultures of the past and present and entertains and educates children, adults and families about the production of local food and fiber that sustain local economies and generations of hard-working families.
Our mission is: To gather, present and preserve the history and culture of the families and individual men and women involved in Idaho sheep ranching and to honor their contributions to the development of Idaho and the West.
Trailing of the Sheep has been named in the Top Ten Fall Festivals in the World, Top 200 Best U.S. Festivals and the Top 100 Festivals in N. America. In 2013, USA Today named it One of the Top Ten Fall Festivals in America. It is also the recipient of the Governor’s Award for Cultural Heritage.
Join us for Wagon Days‘ 60th Anniversary, August 31-September 4, 2017
Welcome to yesteryear. Please join us Labor Day weekend as Ketchum celebrates the days before railroads or automobiles reached the town with its 60th year celebration of Wagon Days.
Come to Main Street and watch the largest parade in the country without motorized vehicles (on Saturday). Basque dancers, marching bands and western cowboys travel by horse, mule or foot – anything goes as long as there is no motor. Children’s activities take place all day on Saturday and a free, family-friendly concert (Lukas Nelson!) follows the parade.
Enjoy a pancake breakfast in Town Square, a bareback riding demonstration, an arts and crafts festival and antique fair, and listen to cowboy poets and meandering musicians wandering our streets. Go for a walk or a bike ride in the Idaho fall.
Whatever you do, you’ll have a chance to experience Idaho history and a wonderful weekend. Please join us.
- See the full schedule here!
- Reserve seats here!
- Wagon Days posters available at Ketchum City Hall
- The Ore Wagon Museum will be open starting August 18th
Click here for the Parade Entry Form
On August 21, 2017, Ketchum and Sun Valley, Idaho residents and visitors will experience a Total Solar Eclipse as the moon moves fully in front of the sun. This extraordinary moment marks the first total eclipse of the sun visible from all 48 contiguous United States since 1979 and the first visible from coast to coast in the US since 1918.
Sun Valley, Idaho is the place to be for the 2017 Solar Eclipse!
The most beautiful place on the line of totality!
The Cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley are working together to have the ultimate viewing party on Festival Meadows.
There will be vendors, activities for the kids, a astronomer/speaker and more! Details here!
The Sun Valley Resort also has a lot of eclipse-related activity, including a viewing party on the Pavilion lawn–details here!
Scope our blog for the full low-down on the Solar Eclipse:
More useful links:
- 2017 Total Eclipse in Idaho: What You Should Know
- Be Prepared! Here’s a great resource for being prepared for the eclipse: http://www.blaineemergency.org/eclipse/
- Seven Things You Must Anticipate For The 2017 Solar Eclipse
Whether you’re celebrity chasing or couch crashing, here’s the run down on where to stay, eat, and ski.
April 13, 2017 By Julie Brown
There are two ways to experience Sun Valley. The Hollywood way, with diamond-crusted facials and celebrity hobnobbing. Or the couch-surfing way, with a DIY flair that capitalizes on the local secrets of your hosts. Both are excellent approaches to the original American ski destination.
Where to stay
For a bit of Old Hollywood Nostalgia: Pull up to the Sun Valley Lodge, where furs and dark sunglasses are the norm. In the same realm of historic grand hotels as Yosemite’s Ahwahnee and Mount Hood’s Timberline Lodge, the Sun Valley Lodge has had a regular rotation of celebrities stroll through its hallways since it opened in 1936. Today those faces are preserved in the archival black-and-white photos adorning the walls. A renovation in 2015 kept that heritage and grandeur while updating the Lodge with amenities like larger guest rooms and windows, a limestone deck and heated pool. A visit here is not complete until you’ve bowled in one of the six regulation-length lanes on the ground floor.
The Sun Valley Inn, just across the courtyard, is a bit more of a throwback (as in, it hasn’t been renovated like it’s sister hotel). But with royal red printed carpet and a black grand piano in the lobby, it has a certain charm. Or go modern in downtown Ketchum at the Limelight Hotel.
If you’re on a tighter budget: Do what I did and crash at a friend’s. Hopefully they have a guest bedroom, or at least a couch. Or check out the new locally-owned hostel, the Hot Water Inn. A “boutique mountain lodge” in the price range of a single dollar sign, the Hot Water Inn offers 10 bedrooms—shared and private—at the base of the Warm Springs lift. Jam sessions encouraged.
Where to Ski
For courduroy cruising with the blue-hairs: Sun-starved Northwesterners flock to the sun-soaked and aptly named Seattle Ridge where blue-square groomers are a plenty. Of course, a few rounds of Warm Springs laps is a must. For more beta on where to ski, read it from a local.
If you don’t own a Mountain Collective pass and/or don’t want to throw down on a lift ticket: Sun Valley’s secret is its backcountry access. There are five mountain ranges within an easy drive of Ketchum. Mountains as far as the eye can see. Drive to Galena Pass and skin from the road. Or hike into a yurt in the Sawtooths for a weekend of couloir hunting.
The scene: Ketchum, Idaho was the last place Ernest Hemingway called home, and while Warfield Distillery & Brewery is new, there’s a good chance “Papa” would have liked it — the place not only serves great food, but makes its own beer and liquor as a rare combination brewery and distillery.
Ketchum is also home to the nation’s very first destination ski resort, Sun Valley, the place that invented the chairlift, but it’s one of the few ski towns that is busier in summer than winter, thanks to world class mountain biking, several golf courses, white water rafting, and a huge slate of festivals and symphony performances, so Warfield has a hungry (and thirsty) audience all year round.
It occupies a prime corner location in the heart of the town’s condensed Main Street, with one long, deep, big room. Despite the distilling and brewing operations, it’s more restaurant than bar, with three rows of tables and booths running front to back, an open kitchen across most of the back wall, a small sit down bar in the right back corner, and a glass encased pot still in the back left. The interior has a very Western feel, with worn wooden floors, dark wood tables, leather booths decorated with equestrian harness belting, and exposed brick walls. Overall, it’s got a cozy but refined “upscale tavern” aesthetic, and the antique safe built into the wall behind the bar is a nice touch.
Reason to visit: Duck drumettes, octopus, pork coppa steak, mussels, beer
The insider’s tour of one of the most historic ski areas in North America
February 24, 2017 By Gabe Schroder
PHOTO: Courtesy of Sun Valley
Fun fact: Sun Valley is a town, a region, and a ski area. The town of Sun Valley is home to the Sun Valley Resort, which includes the lodge, golf course, Nordic skiing tracks, and Dollar Mountain (a small ski hill for beginners, with a big terrain park for the hardpack huckers). A mile or so away is the town of Ketchum that is full of charm, history, nightlife, and local flavor. Towering above the town of Ketchum is Bald Mountain (aka Baldy), the crown jewel of Idaho ski resorts. Together, the resort, the town, and the ski area can all be referred to as Sun Valley.
Taking its rightful place amongst North America’s most legendary ski areas, Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain serves up a unique and world-class ski experience. Some skiers, however, are quick to dismiss Baldy due to its fancy day lodges, low annual snowfall (220 inches, on average) and absence of cliffs, chutes, and other natural features.
All of which is true, to some extent. Sun Valley’s tree-cut runs and wide, open bowls don’t have the same alpine gnarl factor that other more jagged ski areas feature. But don’t be so quick to dismiss Sun Valley. The ski resort, which opened in 1936, has a cemented place in skiing lore, and skiers who have spent time here know this place is legit.
Easy access from town with 3,100 feet of sustained fall-line skiing and a cool ski patrol overseeing an open boundary policy combine to create a no-nonsense ski experience not easily found these days. This is a mountain where skiers come to ski—not to be seen or be a part of something cool. Skiing here is all about feeling the raw and continuous tug of gravity. For once a skier commits to Baldy’s uninterrupted fall line and surrenders to her relentless pull, her true beauty is revealed. Here’s all you need to know to make the most of skiing at Sun Valley.