The Classic Roots of Sun Valley

Some resorts have a lot of history behind them that is too important to ignore!

What makes a place special? Is it about the amenities or the memories you create while you’re there? It’s a question that’s not easy to answer sometimes, but Sun Valley Resort in Idaho knows why they are. They believe a lot of magic happens there, and they aren’t wrong. Known for its scenic views, this resort has a colorful and rich history in winter sports. They have a tradition of sending talented athletes to the Olympics and were one of the first resorts to embrace snowboarding. It is a place that never actually seems to rest because droves of people come to explore the area all year long.
And what sets them apart is the fact that they could be considered a “true” resort model. Though it might act like it, Sun Valley isn’t a town. It’s a resort through and through with the actual town of Ketchum nuzzled closely to the resort. Both offer something unique and adds to the other in more ways than one. To sum it up, Sun Valley is a quintessential ski destination and has been recognized as such for many years. It’s hard to deny how incredible this resort is thanks to its impressive roster. There are almost 365 days of sunshine, countles food, shopping and event options and wide expanses of epic skiing available.

A Long History in Classiness

sun valley has been classy since the beginning so it's hard not to fall in love when you're thereFor decades, Sun Valley has been a winter haven for ski fanatics everywhere. But some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood have also found sanctuary at the resort too. Look at the roster, and you’ll be impressed to see names like Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey as frequent visitors. But the resort was always about providing an upscale experience to all who visited. They had a determination to make their resort stand out and have a sophisticated feel about it. And they’ve done it with grace since they opened the doors in 1932.
Averell Harriman, a visionary who had grown up in the Swiss Alps, saw the potential North America had to have its own luxurious alpine resort. Being the Chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad, he saw an opportunity that would benefit everyone. His plan started to take place as he saw it all laid out in front of him. He hired an experience Austrian skier named Count Felix Schaffgotsch to find a place for the site of the resort.  After searching several states, the Count was taken aback by what he saw in Ketchum, Idaho. He immediately reported back and the project to build it commenced. Construction began and ended in the blink of an eye, and the first destination ski resort in America became reality.
Harriman was a forward thinker and knew if he wanted to make this new resort a big deal he’d have to pull out all the stops. Before Sun Valley, all ski mountains across the world used the same technology. But Harriman knew there was a better way to get people up and down the mountain. He requested railroad engineers to create a device capable of moving skiers much more quickly. And out of their collaboration, the chairlift was born. At the time it was a revolutionary alternative to walking up steep slopes. It made Sun Valley a luxury destination and solidified its image in time forever. The resort has continued to stay family owned by the Holding Family through the years. Development decisions have ensured the character of the resort stays true to its origin. And who could ask for anything more than a resort staying true to itself?

The Ski Town With Heart

locals and visitors alike agree that sun valley is unlike any other place on earth
Photo Credit: Courtesy Sun Valley Resort
Photographer: Idarado Media

The quirky town of Ketchum is a place that makes you immediately put a smile on your face. And since it sits at the doorsteps of Sun Valley it’s become a place that lends to the charm of the resort. There are several things to do while in town when you’re not racing down Bald Mountain. Or check out the incredible backcountry. People can hike, fish, hunt and the like but they can also shop and browse around their art galleries too. Though the population is less than 3,000, visitors will be delighted in what they have to offer.

What’s great about many ski towns is that they give visitors an extra view into what’s around the area. Ketchum does that, and it does so by following the rule of thumb that Sun Valley has for itself. It stays true to itself by holding onto to pieces of the past. It also offers an interesting modern twist that’s appealing to many.

An Extraordinary Resort For All

the incredible beauty of sun valley is only comparable to how classy and elegant it is there
Photo Credit: Courtesy Sun Valley Resort
Photographer: Hillary Maybery

Count the ways that Sun Valley is an excellent ski destination and you might end up working on your list all day. It’s usually a hard thing to meet a flawless mix of luxury and laid-back mountain vibes. But they do it effortlessly and without thinking much about it either. While there might not be ski-in/ski-out hotels, visitors are happy to take a few extra minutes to hitch a ride when needed. Mostly because Sun Valley is worth it.

Its two featured peaks both offer pristine skiing conditions and challenges for skiers of all levels. Dollar Mountain is an excellent (and recommended) area for beginner and intermediate skiers. There are almost no trees to be seen and offers plenty of open space. Skiers who are still learning can feel more confident while out on the trails. Those who are strictly interested in park-related activities will be rewarded with 3 different terrain parks. Sun Valley also features a seven-meter Superpipe for anyone looking to improve their trick skills.
Bald Mountain has a bit of a reputation for offering some of the best skiing in the country. The difference in terrain and consistent pitch are among the many reasons the mountain is remarkable. You can endlessly practice your turns without having to accommodate for steepness. Skiers with more experience can choose from 65 varied trails and explore 30 acres of daily groomed glades to their heart’s content. The quality of skiing on Bald Mountain is so good, that people often lose track of time. Time does tend to escape those on Bald Mountain. So if you want to head back to your lodging midday check the time. Because you might end up being there all day! That’s how fun it is to take on the mountain. And why everyone is convinced there’s something magical happening there. 

Adventure Awaits At Sun Valley 

take the day or week to explore all that sun valley has to offer. It's a truly remarkable place with a lot of class.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Sun Valley Resort
Photographer: © Hillary Maybery

From its early humble roots to its modern-day presence, Sun Valley is a ski resort with a lot to say. For more than 75 years they’ve shown what sets them apart. Every nook and cranny seem to be spilling over with delightful charm and it almost seems too good to be true. How can one place hold so much elegance and character? By staying true to the essence of skiing. Which is exactly what has been accomplished and you can see everywhere you turn. There are hundreds of ski destinations in North America to travel to, each with their own appeal. But Sun Valley can’t (or won’t) be ignored because the hills hold something special within them. And if you haven’t had the chance to see it all for yourself, then now is the time to go from skeptic to believer!