18 Lifts including a Gondola, 80 trails - the longest is 3 miles
2,154 acres on Bald and Dollar Mountains
Sun Valley Opened in December of 1936
Idaho is home to Sun Valley – the most famous, historic ski resort in the
country. Sun Valley is the “original,” home of the world’s first chairlift in
the country, on Dollar Mountain in 1936. This is the resort that produced so
many Olympians and invented the ski week concept as movie stars, musicians,
skates and skiers arrived by train for days of winter play.
To this day, Sun Valley is as celebrated among skiers as it is frequented by the
celebs - from Marilyn Monroe to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sun Valley also has a
pretty resort sister in Utah, Snowbasin.
Sun Valley is as posh as you would imagine, luxurious timber lodges at the base
and the 9,150’ summit of Bald Mountain cater to skiers with leather
couches by roaring fireplaces, fine cuisine, and jaw-droppingly magnificent marble bathrooms ($8
million was the price tag on the latest Seattle Ridge Lodge).
The skiing at Sun Valley is long and steep, descending an unrelenting 3,400
vertical, served by 7 high speed quads and a high-speed 8-person gondola that whisk you back up with just enough
time to catch your breath and the scenery. The stunning Sawtooth Mountain
range and the trademark “Sun Valley sunshine” make this resort shine.
Sun Valley has extensive bowl skiing if you are feeling a bit adventurous, a
switch from the consistently pitched groomed boulevards like Picabo, Gretchen’s
Gold and Hemingway (name dropping is big here). Sun Valley leaves plenty of
trails bumped too, Holiday and Exhibition are mogul mania. And you must ski a
top to bottom Limelight without stopping - a rite of passage. Seasoned Sun
Valley skiers have a unique ski
style – we deemed it "the Sun Valley slide," a speedy smooth skid.
Sun Valley is swank with a distinct alpine arrogance. Grab a chair in the
afternoon sun outside one of the stunning lodges and watch the parade of Bogner and Prada
clad skiers. Earl Holding, of Sinclair Oil
fortunes, purchased the resort in 1974, and has updated the upscale resort.
Holding also owns Snowbasin in Utah (acquired in 1984) which he considered
calling Sun Valley Utah. Holding’s philosophy, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth
overdoing.” Recent Sun Valley additions include a palatial Nordic and Golf
Center called the Sun Valley Club and an incredible outdoor performing arts
center – The Sun Valley Pavilion. Not to rest on reputation or laurels,
a speedy Dopplemayer gondola was installed delivering skiers and diners in swift
modern style to the original 1939 Round House –
which is America’s first on mountain lodge.
You must lunch at the
Roundhouse while skiing Sun Valley. The grand old fireplace, the
fondue and the fabulous view are to dine for. You’ll feel as though you were
transported to the Alps. Interesting story, the original budget for Sun Valley
ski area was $200,000 (imagine what it’s worth now) to install three
single chairlifts to the summit. The contactors had $20,000 left over – so they proposed a lodge on the
mountain - hence the Roundhouse was born.
There is so much history at Sun Valley, from the trail names of Olympians to the
lodges. Sun Valley is an intriguing place, laden with ski legacy and the latest luxuries, pricey and popular
with the posh people but the terrain here is not for sissies. No wonder its
always ranked in the Top 10 of ski resort polls.
Sun Valley has a very unique lift exchange program, if you tire of turning on
the trails, cash in one day of a multi day ticket for a massage at the Sun
Valley spa, dinner at the four diamond Sun Valley Lodge Dining Room, or a
Snowshoe or Nordic package.
place to stay at Sun Valley for luxury lodging Idaho style is
The Sun Valley Lodge, a 1936 original
complete with the famed centerpiece ice skating rink.