Bucket List, Skiing & Snowboarding, Winter

Why Sun Valley Should Be A Stop on Your Next Ski Trip

As if SKI Magazine ranking Sun Valley as the #1 resort wasn’t enough reason to make an addition to the top of your ski bucket list, well here is a few more. Sun Valley is chock full of activities on and off mountain to make your visit one to remember and maybe even a yearly tradition.

Cross-country ski the US Olympic training grounds.

Sun Valley is home to a Nordic Olympic Training Site for its ideal trails, training facilities and perfect conditions. There are over 125 miles of endorphin-inducing, visually stimulating cross-country terrain in the Wood River Valley. A US Olympic training site since 2012, the Sun Valley XC trail system may be home to the elite, but its groomed landscape provides sweet tracks for any skill level. Take time out for a drink and a bite to eat at Galena Lodge, no matter how good your crossover turns look.

Cross country skiing in the Boulders

Tailgate in the same parking lot as ski-film icon Warren Miller.

Ten years after the installation of the first ski lift, a young buck by the name of Warren Miller parted ways with the US Navy, packed his 8mm film camera, and hauled a teardrop trailer to the mountains of Idaho in pursuit of the ski-bum dream. Today that same essence lives on, and while you may find fewer diehards living out of their cars these days, the ski stoke vibe that Miller was so captivated by can still be found at Sun Valley’s River Run Lodge, and stories of “how deep it really was” are still told on the tailgate over a cold Coors Banquet beer. Bring a six-pack to share and feel it for yourself.

A Night Out on the Town

The best nights out involve mixing it up and hopping from hot spot to hot spot. Start your evening with cocktails at the newly opened Limelight Hotel lounge. Before the drinks go to your head, hit the Pioneer Saloon for dinner, where the prime rib comes in thick slabs and is perfectly cooked. With dinner taken care of, it’s time to explore the nightlife of Ketchum. Start out at the Cellar Pub to carry on your dinner conversation or test your skills on the shuffleboard table in the backroom. When it’s time to kick it up a notch, check Whiskey Jacques’ for live music and dancing. Be sure to save some energy for a night cap at the Casino. Here the only thing you gamble is how well you will feel the next morning but don’t worry about that now, you are having one. With taxi cabs parked right outside, you can make a clean getaway to enjoy a well-deserved night of sleep.

Ketchum Winter - Photo by Tory Taglio

Eat fondue at 8,000 feet.

Jump in Sun Valley’s new gondola for the ride up to Roundhouse Lodge, the country’s oldest ski lodge. Order a caquelon of white wine, shallots, and melted Gruyère, dip in a warm baguette, and you’ve got yourself the perfect gourmet mid-ski snack. Located within the lodge, Averell’s Bar has 8,000ft panoramic views of the Pioneer Mountains, making it the ideal spot to kick off the ski boots and recharge for the remainder of the day.

Grab an afternoon heli lap from the top of Baldy.

 Sun Valley Heli runs its operation right from the summit of the mountain offering a dream like ski experience where skiers can slide off the lift and right into the jump seat. It’s nearing midday and you realize you’ve thoroughly exhausted the two-day-old powder stashes. Time to call up Sun Valley Heli Ski to track down some pristine, untouched fields of glory. Founded back in 1966, these guys offer pickup from the tiptop of Baldy out to one of three nearby mountain ranges, and they’ll happily share their extensive knowledge of aerial-assisted skiing for an unforgettable afternoon on the slopes.

Sun Valley Heli Ski

Soak in a bit of ski racing culture at Apple’s.

Sun Valley’s ski culture runs deep, and one of the longest standing and most celebrated factions is the downhill ski racing community. The steeps of Bald Mountain have shaped a copious number of ripping skiers, with several going as far as the Olympic arena. At the bottom of the Warm Springs side of the mountain, Apple’s Bar & Grill is an après-ski hotspot. Order a beer, check out the iconic memorabilia, and keep your eyes peeled for local racing legends like the Crist brothers.

Spa Day at Zenergy or Sun Valley Lodge

Treating yourself is good for the soul. Massages, facials, and other spa treatments can all be found at either Zenergy or the Spa at the Sun Valley Lodge. Both boast outdoor hot pools, full service spa amenities including fitness center and yoga studios, and professional and friendly staff members. This rejuvenating experience will prep you for a fun-filled night out on the town.

Zenergy Pool and Baldy

Fish trophy trout waters.

 Fly fishing on the Big Wood River which runs just past the doorstep of the River Run Lodge produces big rainbows and browns in the winter when conditions can be ideal. Between the comforts of your rig and the swanky accommodations of the Sun Valley lodges lies a freestone river holding some of the valley’s most prized possessions. Considered by many to be one of the most productive fisheries in the West, the Big Wood River harbors a slew of healthy rainbow and brown trout. Leave the ski boots on and swing a few drifts on your lunch break for a chance to feel the tug from one of these high-mountain beauties.

Winter Fly Fishing in Sun Valley, Idaho

Skin to the top of one of the world’s first ski lifts.

The ski lift at Ruud Mountain is one of the first ski lifts in the world which replaced the original which stood near to this location. Back in 1936, a gentleman by the name of James Curran adapted a banana conveyer belt into the world’s first ski lift. Sun Valley set the stage for this revolutionary piece of machinery that would forever change the face of skiing. Today, one of the three original lifts still stands atop Ruud Mountain, and a quick snowshoe or skin will place you on the sunny slopes that host this historic structure.

Skinning in Sun Valley, Idaho

Take flight over the mountains.

Three, two, one, liftoff… Feet dangling, wind rushing across your face, and a bird’s-eye view encompass the experience of paragliding off the top of Bald Mountain. Fly Sun Valley takes flight four times a day (conditions permitting), delivering a near-weightlessness ride accompanied by aerial views of the Wood River Valley below. It’s the closest thing to being reincarnated as a raven dancing across the mountain thermals you’ll find in this lifetime.

Paragliding of the Pioneers

Share this Post