It’s Lovely Weather for a Sleigh Ride Together

Sun Valley is fortunate to offer many "only in Sun Valley experiences:" from a meal at historic Roundhouse to a skate around the iconic outdoor rink. But one of the most unique is a sleigh ride through a winter's evening to a memorable dinner at the rustic Trail Creek Cabin. During the cold weather months, merrymakers board wooden sleighs and are whisked over the river and through the woods to a four-course meal that satisfies all the senses before a return trip beneath an infinite sky of stars or gently falling snow.  

For my family, this Trail Creek excursion is the perfect special occasion event. After all, it's an inherent party without the setup, decorating and planning. Perfect! So last Friday night, we eagerly arrived at the Sun Valley Inn to begin our celebration of a friend's birthday.

At the Inn, we are greeted, checked in and directed to enjoy hot chocolate for the children and a full bar, if desired, for the adults. By all accounts, the cocoa was rich and creamy and my Cosmo in a to-go cup was pretty good, too.

When you arrive for check-in at the Sun Valley Inn, the adventure begins with a warm hot cocoa or a hot buttered rum

When it is time to begin the adventure, a bonafide cowboy from the Horseman's Center welcomes the group, providing some simple instructions (don't stand up when the sleigh is moving seems to be the most vital). Then it's away we go!

We have been assigned to sleigh #2, manned (or womanned) by a very capable driver, M.J. Our party of five is joined by 12 revelers from southern Idaho. The patriarch tells me that each year their family comes to Sun Valley at this time of year to enjoy an aspect of the very special holidays at the Resort. This year, with Tyler, a darling one-year-old in tow, the extended family opted for the sleigh ride – a first for them. In the full spirit of the season, the group sang carols during much of the half hour ride.

There is nothing like a horse-drawn sleigh to create a magical night

Upon arriving at the historic Trail Creek Cabin, nestled in the woods beside a snowy Trail Creek, sparkling lights beckon the way to the brightly illuminated log cabin. Once inside, after shedding hats, coats and mittens, the beauty of the room is readily apparent. A roaring fire lends atmosphere and a warm glow; twinkling lights are strung at every turn; the food smells delicious.

We are led to our table, decked in a gingham cloth, accompanied by the merry sounds of an accordion. In fact, accordion music is a big part of the party atmosphere at Trail Creek Cabin. Upbeat renditions of Christmas carols and other favorites (the musician takes requests) provide a wonderful soundtrack to the meal.

My favorite part of the Trail Creek Cabin winter experience is the fact that it is very child friendly. Once you sit down, food is served. My children are always hungry and not having to wait to order is a huge plus. Within five minutes of taking our seats, the cabin's famous scones and rolls have arrived, as has a big bowl of piping hot potato leek soup (a favorite with everyone) and a large antipasto plate. Dig in!

Chef Wendy Little's food, in general, is a huge draw. Her keen ability to keep it simple but extraordinarily flavorful ensures a memorable meal. Chef Wendy's focus is always on fresh, locally-sourced fare prepared with care. Our group ordered four steaks, cooked to order and hearty on a cold winter's day. I chose the chicken that was also satisfying and full of flavor. The meal was a huge hit all around.

The accordion's strains suddenly turned to a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" as the attentive staff brought out the family style dessert ablaze with candles. The apple tart (almost a bread pudding – dense and rich and wonderful) was accompanied by homemade vanilla ice cream, more hot chocolate and coffee.

Twinkling lights, a sleigh ride, a roaring fire, fabulous food and accordion music all add up to a one-of-a-kind Sun Valley experience

Sated, happy, warm and relaxed, when it was time to bundle back up and board the sleigh for the Inn, the group was quieter, but in a good way. We took our seats, pulled the warm woolen blankets over our laps and our hats down over our ears as we made our way back through cloud cover that promised the heavy snowfall that began the next day.

A sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin for dinner truly is a can't-miss Sun Valley experience. Reservations book up early so be sure to call (208) 622-2135 to secure yours. Prices for adults, depending on the date, range from $119 to $149 per person and children range from $69 to $89. The price includes everything, including tax and tip, excepting alcoholic beverages.

The winter classic sums it up better than I ever could:
Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we,
We're snuggled up together like two birds of a feather would be.
Let's take that road before us and sing a chorus or two,
Come on it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.

Don't miss your Sun Valley sleigh ride. It is truly one-of-a-kind.




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