We’re not saying Sun Valley has special powers, but a lot of magical things do happen here. The slopes on Bald and Dollar mountains enjoy a nearly lift line–free existence all winter long, not to mention a nearly cloud-free one. Plus there’s a 26,000-square-foot family center with everything from lessons to rentals to lockers. Our restaurants have menus loaded with fresh gourmet options from inexpensive to luxury. In summer you can hike, bike, fly-fish or golf in the morning, bowl a few frames in the afternoon, and still catch the sunset from 8,000 feet at the Roundhouse before catching a jazz show. We don’t like to brag, but we do think there’s something out of the ordinary going on in these hills.
Around here, if the sun is out, there’s something you really need to be doing. And the sun is almost always out. So first things first: the mountains.
Baldy is our big-time mountain. Boasting perfect-pitch vertical from peak to base, Bald Mountain has no flats, no plateaus and nothing but downhill. And with the barely-there lift lines, there’s plenty of time to make as many turns as your legs will allow, usually under a sun that shines for 80 percent of the year. With runs ranging from expert to beginner, groomers to slalom challenges, Baldy is a mountain for people who like to go down, no matter how fast or what they strap to their feet.
Dollar Mountain is where skiing learned to ski. The home of the world’s very first chairlift, it now has 76 rails, along with beginner-friendly slopes, five lifts and 628 feet of vertical on a treeless, sun-kissed face. Every snow lover, no matter their skill level, will find something on this mountain that will put a grin on their face and some fresh tracks behind them in the snow.
River Run is where it all begins at the base of Baldy. A veritable mini-village of everything ski and ride oriented, it’s a place you can pick up rental equipment, stash your belongings and get a last-minute tune and wax before heading up to the peak. Hungry? River Run offers wood-fired pizzas, grilled delights, deli sandwiches, salads and sushi by day, with après-ski entertainment on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
Right at the base of Baldy, the Warm Springs Day Lodge serves up yummy eats for breakfast and lunch. Completely renovated in 2018, Warm Springs serves fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies that can be enjoyed on the sunny patio or while soaking up the live entertainment inside.
The food at Seattle Ridge is a standout, and it has to be to compete with the views. Sitting high at 8,800 feet along the Seattle Ridge area of Baldy, this lodge opens up onto jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Wood River Valley. Open for lunch, Seattle Ridge’s menu includes wood-fired fare like grilled steaks and fish, burgers, and barbecue, along with a large variety of food to grab on the go.
Carol’s is Sun Valley’s family-friendly locale, complete with classic European décor. The menu at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge has a little something for everyone, from kids to parents to anyone on the hunt for a great meal. Located within easy walking distance of the village, Carol’s is the spot to kick your feet up and enjoy breakfast and lunch, either inside or on the heated patio. Open for the winter season.
He was almost ready to give up and go home. It was 1935, and for a few weeks, Count Felix Schaffgotsch of Austria had been on a mission to find a hidden gem tucked into the western reaches of the United States. He wanted to find the perfect untapped area in which to build a ski resort the likes of which no one had ever seen.
So far it had been a series of hits and misses, and the good count figured his vision just might not exist. But it was then that he overheard some locals talking about a small mining town in Idaho called Ketchum. The count couldn’t exactly say why, but “Ketchum” had a ring to it, and he decided to take a look.
The veritable Shangri-La he found would change the skiing world forever. As he looked upon a beautiful sun-kissed valley outside Ketchum, the count knew this was the gem he had been hunting. He immediately wired his employer, Averell Harriman, ecstatically exclaiming, “This combines more delightful features than any place I have ever seen in Switzerland, Austria or the U.S. for a winter resort.” Harriman rushed to join the count, and within days purchased the 4,300 acres that would become Sun Valley.
They immediately got to work, and within eight months Sun Valley opened to the public in the winter of 1936. And it didn’t take long for the world to see what Harriman and the count had seen. Sun Valley was an instant success, and eventually became the lodge for celebrities, champion skiers from around the globe and everyone else who wanted a winter resort with almost year-round sun, endless vertical slopes and virtually no crowds. Sun Valley has grown since then, but it’s every bit as amazing as the day it opened.
Sun Valley Resort
1 Sun Valley Road
P.O. Box 10
Sun Valley, ID 83353
Opening day: Dec. 21, 1936
Sun Valley Resort is America’s first destination resort, built in 1936 by the Union Pacific Railroad. It is located in the Northern Rockies region of south-central Idaho and is open year-round with four distinctly beautiful seasons. There are more outdoor recreational activities here than at any other destination resort in the U.S.
The Sun Valley Resort sleeps 1,200 with a total of 480 rooms.
Sun Valley Lodge: 108 rooms
Sun Valley Inn: 97 rooms
Apartments, cottages, and condominiums: 227 rooms
Bald & Dollar Mountains
Ski season: Thanksgiving Day to mid-April
Hours: 9 am–4 pm
Total lift capacity: 29,717 skiers per hour
Skiable area: 2,054 acres
Longest run: 3 miles
Total runs: 121
Steepest run: Inhibition (70% or 35 degrees)
42% More Difficult
20% Most Difficult
2% Expert Only
Snowmaking area: 645 acres
Snow guns: 555
Groomable area: 810 acres
Groomable terrain with snowmaking: 78%
Sunshine: 120 days out of 150-day ski season or 80%
Summit elevation: 9,150'
Vertical drop: 3,400'
Lift capacity: 23,680 skiers per hour
River Run Day Lodge
Warm Springs Day Lodge
Seattle Ridge Day Lodge
Sun Valley SnowSports School: 240 instructors
Summit elevation: 6,638'
Vertical drop: 628'
Lift capacity: 6,037 skiers per hour
Day lodge: Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge
Seven terrain parks and Dollar LIVE
Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center
Roughly 40 km (25 miles) of meticulously groomed tracks for classical, skate skiing and ski touring
Snowshoe trails: 14 km
Ski and snowshoe rental, accessories, wax room
Clinics and private instruction
Swimming and soaking: Two outdoor heated pools, one hot tub
Spa: Day spa and full-service salon
Ice skating and hockey: One outdoor rink, one indoor rink
Entertainment: Duchin Lounge, Bald Mountain base lodges
Dancing: Jazz musicians perform nightly for dancing in the Duchin Lounge
Movies: First-run movies nightly in the Sun Valley Opera House. Free viewings of “Sun Valley Serenade” play continuously in guest rooms.
Golf: Sun Valley Resort Golf courses, 45 holes
18-hole Trail Creek course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
New 9-hole White Clouds course designed by Knott & Linn
Elkhorn Golf Club (semi-private)
Tennis: 17 courts, full-service pro shop and expert instruction
Ice skating: Indoor and outdoor rinks, skating school, hockey
World-class ice shows Saturday nights during the summer, featuring Olympic and world champion figure skaters
Swimming: Three heated outdoor pools, one hot tub
Gun club: Trap and skeet fields, double trap, wobble trap, duck tower, five-stand, sporting clays, professional instruction
Horseback riding and Wagon Rides: Sun Valley Stables
Gondola and chairlift rides: Access to Baldy’s summit and biking and hiking trails
Rafting: Whitewater trips on the Salmon River, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and others
Bowling alley: Six lanes, Sun Valley Lodge basement
Paddle boating, horseshoes, fishing, and volleyball: Sun Valley Lake
Sun Valley PlaySchool: Available year-round
13 restaurants, including 6 mountain lodges
4 lounges: Duchin Lounge, Ram Bar, Warm Springs Day Lodge, and River Run Day Lodge
Sun Valley Village: 12 shops
Major events include Sun Valley Pavilion entertainment, the Sun Valley Wine Auction, Arts and Crafts Festival, the Sun Valley Music Festival, Sun Valley on Ice shows, Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament.
The newly renovated Sun Valley Inn Convention Center totals more than 12,000 square feet and is as grand in interior décor as it is impressive in its concealed state-of-the-art technological function. Meeting rooms have extensive telecommunication and audiovisual backbone cabling systems that allow for numerous telephone, data, video and audio distribution via fiber optics, data-rated twisted-pair 802.11g wireless and coax. High-speed Internet access is achieved through RJ45 twisted-pair connectivity and fiber-optic cabling along with 802.11g wireless Ethernet. This access also can be configured to allow for virtual LAN networking between meeting rooms within the hotel. In addition, an in-house, resort-wide fiber-optic backbone can accommodate all possible data and video distribution needs as well as direct fiber connections from carrier circuits to all meeting rooms.
Total meeting rooms: 18
Largest capacity: Seats 1,100 theater style
Total meeting space: 28,500 square feet
Sun Valley Resort is privately owned by the R. Earl Holding family, owners of the Grand America Hotels & Resorts family. Sister properties include Snowbasin Ski Resort, the Grand America Hotel, and the Little America Hotel and Towers in Salt Lake City, Utah; the Westgate Hotel in San Diego, Calif.; the Little America–Flagstaff in Arizona; and the Little America–Wyoming and the Little America–Cheyenne in Wyoming.
Vice President/General Manager: Pete Sonntag
Director of Hotels: Justin Cambier
Director of Marketing: Bridget Higgins
Director of Sales: Brent Gillette
Director of Mountain Operations: Peter Stearns