According to Forbes, Sun Valley is the world’s best ski resort. It has everything you need for a fabulous vacation: gorgeous scenery, great amenities, and top-class skiing. In this article, we are going to look at why Sun Valley in Idaho should be your next winter sports vacation destination. So, before you take a look at Sun Valley, Idaho rentals, read on.
The History of Sun Valley
Prior to Sun Valley, most serious skiers headed to the Swiss Alps. North America didn’t have anything that compared to the upmarket resorts of Gstaad and St. Moritz. A man called W. Averell Harriman decided that needed to change. As a keen skier, he made it his mission to find a suitable location for a new luxury ski resort. He eventually settled on Ketchum, Idaho, and in 1936, work began on the construction of the Sun Valley Ski Resort.
What set Sun Valley apart, aside from the excellent skiing and glorious scenery, was Harriman’s innovative ski lift. Prior to Sun Valley, complex cable and tow rope systems dragged skiers uphill. It wasn’t pretty or comfortable. Harriman hired engineers to come up with a different system and they invented a chairlift. Not surprisingly, being carried up the mountain on a chair was very popular with resort visitors. It wasn’t long before Sun Valley became the top ski resort in North America.
The resort has its own distinctive character and appeal, and unlike many popular ski resorts, it is still family-owned. Over the years, Sun Valley has played host to skiing events, including the US Alpine Championships in 2016, and will do so again this year. The resort has also been a memorable location for several movies, including the Clint Eastwood classic, Pale Rider. Bus Stop starring Marilyn Monroe was also shot there in 1956.
Celebrities love Sun Valley and if you visit during peak season, you are likely to bump into a few famous faces on the slopes or in the bars enjoying an après ski drink. Back in the day, silver screen stars such as Errol Flynn and Clark Gable flocked there during the holidays. More recently, Justin Timberlake, Tom Hanks, Oprah, and others have spent time here.
What Makes Sun Valley Different?
Unlike other luxury ski resorts, Sun Valley is all about the skiing. People don’t come to Sun Valley to see and be seen. They come here primarily to ski. Whilst you can stay in luxurious ski lodges or the resort hotels, the locals are down to earth, and the resort’s owners have prioritized the facilities rather than raking in tons of money by building luxury condos in the best locations.
Everyone who visits Sun Valley comes because they want to ski, snowboard, and do other active things. You won’t see lots of flashy celebs wandering around in designer ski gear. It’s not that sort of place. Most celebs who visit Sun Valley would rather stay incognito. The regular crowd are hard-core skiers, former Olympians, and current athletes competing for the US in winter sports.
Sun Valley Accommodation
There are two hotels in the actual resort: the Sun Valley Lodge, the top choice for celebs, and the Sun Valley Inn. There are other hotels, of course, but they are not as central. These include the Elkhorn Resort and the Knob Hill Inn.
If you don’t want to stay in a hotel, you can take your pick from a selection of luxurious rentals and condos. There are lodgings all over the valley, to suit all budgets. For families, a lodge or condo is often a better choice, as you have more freedom to come and go as you please, and more room to spread out. For larger parties, renting a condo or lodge and splitting the cost also works out cheaper.
Explore the Slopes in Sun Valley
There are two slopes in Sun Valley: Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. They offer more than 2,000 acres of different terrain, which is why Sun Valley is so highly regarded. The snow is dry powder and skiers are sheltered from the biting wind that blights some other ski resorts.
Bald Mountain, also referred to as “Baldy” by the locals, has 30 acres of ski and snowboarding terrain. This is where the experienced skiers go. With over 3,000 feet of vertical runs, you can ski for longer on Bald Mountain. Baldy also has a selection of Adventure Trails for intrepid youngsters.
Dollar Mountain has a full feature all-terrain park and an uphill ski transporter, so you can swish up the mountain for zero effort. Dollar Mountain is more suited to beginners and amateurs. If you want to learn to ski, this is where you hit the nursery slopes.
You can download ski maps from here. There is a trail map for each mountain, which details the trails and itemizes all the available facilities.
If you want to ski or board, you will need to purchase a lift ticket. To save up to 20%, these can be purchased in advance. Book a ski pass online and take your email confirmation to the lift ticket window when you arrive.
Sun Valley Winter Season Events
Whilst the skiing and boarding are the main attractions for visitors to Sun Valley in Idaho, there are plenty of other things you can do. Guests can try ice skating, take a sleigh ride through the snow, go sledding, snow shoe walking, or visit one of the indoor fitness centres and chill out with a swim and some yoga.
Sun Valley also has a number of special events taking place throughout the year. The Winter Wonderland Festival takes place each December. This popular festival includes a fashion show, kick-off party, scavenger hunt, snow globe window stroll, storytelling for kids, trunk shows, and more. Other fun events include the ‘Pray for Snow’ party in mid-November and regular productions at the Opera House.
Hopefully, we have whetted your appetite for a Sun Valley winter sports vacation. And if you want to take the kids along for their first ski trip, you’ll find it an extremely family-friendly place.