Welcome to Sun Valley! Paradise awaits – this version accessible by bike Welcome! Congratulations on your choice to spend part of your summer in Sun Valley! Tickets are booked (or the car is packed), reservations secured, and you’re ready to see for yourself what a Sun Valley summer (a thing of legend) is really all about. You’ll want to make the most of your time in the Wood River Valley from the moment you arrive – there is so much to do and not a moment to waste – so we have prepared a three-day suggested itinerary as your guide. Please keep in mind...
There's nothing quite like the first day of ski season. There's a buzz and excitement in the air most of us haven't experienced since the beginning of another year in elementary school, except instead of getting handed homework at the end of the day, we get to grab a hot chocolate or a hoppy beverage and hit the hot tub!
It hasn't been that long since Logan Johnston and his friends were enjoying their first day of another school year. Logan is a recent graduate from the Sage School in Hailey, as are two of the three friends who camped out all night with him to make sure they'd be on the first chairlift of the season at Sun Valley.
It was Logan's third straight year catching the first chair on opening day. This year, he was joined by fellow Sage School alumni Sarah and Luke Verst, and Claire Sauerbrey, who's a senior at Wood River High.
"It's just fun, to camp out the night before and then to be on the first chair. Something you'll always remember," Logan said, adding that winter camping at the base of Baldy isn't bad at all, "so long as you have a good sleeping bag!"
Of course, Logan and his friends aren't the first skiers to ever camp out at the base of Bald Mountain. Warren Miller did so long before his films became synonymous with skiing in America. Just a handful of years younger than Warren, Dennis is 85 years old and has been calling Sun Valley home, for at least part of the year, for three decades now.
While we road the gondola up in the early afternoon, I asked Dennis what first brought him to our little haven of Idaho, he replied in a strong British accent, "An airplane."
Despite suffering mildly from Alzheimer's, Dennis is still a strong skier and has obviously kept his sense of humor. Since everyone is "too damn serious" nowadays, Dennis said he wouldn't want to live if he couldn't make people laugh. He then answered my original question.
"Skiing is what brought us here," he said, explaining that he's also skied quite a bit in Europe. "And skiing is what keeps bringing us back every winter."
Skiing is what brings Mike from Eagle up for Thanksgiving weekend as well. Mike, who's originally from New Jersey, and his wife are now "empty nesters" and their new tradition is to take advantage of the early season ski and stay packages Sun Valley offers.
"It's an amazing deal to ski and stay for what they charge, it's surprising more people near us (in the Treasure Valley), don't take advantage of it," Mike said, as we rode up Christmas chair. He said that most of the people he'd met on lifts that day had been locals, particularly from Hailey.
"The locals here seem to really have a passion for this mountain," Mike said adding with a big smile, "I can see why. Coming up here for Thanksgiving and opening weekend is our new tradition and we love it!"
Smiles were in abundance for the opening of Sun Valley's 79th ski season. Thanks to some "nice help from Mother Nature," as Sun Valley Resort's Jack Sibbach said about November's numerous snowfalls, and the work of Baldy's world-renown snowmaking crew, conditions were terrific. Accompanying the eight runs and five lifts for opening day on Baldy (Dollar Mountain was also open for the younger/newer skiers and park riders), the weather was warmer than usual for Thanksgiving so the slopes and sun decks remained bustling from the first chair of the season until the last one for the day.
Much to the delight of skiers and boarders across the globe, another season is underway in Sun Valley and if the opening day conditions are any hint, it should be another one to remember for America's original destination ski resort.
"It sure does look pretty promising," Logan Johnson said, just before the first chair of the year headed up River Run and hundreds of opening day skiers and riders hooted and hollered in approval.
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