#21 in 2023 Best Ski Resorts in the USA
Considered to be one of the top ski resorts in North America, Sun Valley Resort in Idaho has been lauded by a number of publications for its grooming, lifts, character and-kid friendliness.
Sun Valley Resort was one of the first resorts to promote destination skiing when the 220-room Sun Valley Lodge first opened in 1936. (It also saw the completion of one of the world’s first chairlifts.) The resort’s two mountains, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain, offer more than 2,000 acres of prime terrain and 3,400-plus vertical feet for skiers and snowboarders.
Sun Valley Resort has a SnowSports School that offers group, private and specialty lessons and clinics to both children and adults. Ski and snowboard rentals are available at the resort, via Pete Lane Mountain Sport’s Rental, which has two off-resort locations in the adjacent town of Ketchum. Night skiing isn’t regularly offered at the resort, but guests have the option of enjoying sleigh rides, ice skating and Nordic skiing here.
Sun Valley Resort generally opens around Thanksgiving, with the season usually ending by mid-April. The resort often has its best snow in January and February with February boasting more sunny days, though March is also known for good conditions along with slightly longer days and fewer crowds.
Lift tickets for the 2018/2019 season start at $149 for adults; $85 for children and $101 for seniors. Packages include the Stay & Ski Free package, starting at $319 for one adult lift ticket and a night’s stay at the Sun Valley Inn, and the Season Passholders Discount – bring your current season’s pass from another resort and get 20 percent off lodging and 40 percent off lift tickets. To book lift tickets and packages at Sun Valley Resort, phone 1-888-786-8259.
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Sun Valley Resort has two mountains that share the 2,183 skiable acres – the larger Bald Mountain, with 2,054 acres, and Dollar Mountain, at 129 skiable acres. Thirty-six percent of the trails at the resort overall are designed for beginners; 42 percent are ranked intermediate and 22 percent are expert. Here are the best Sun Valley Resort trails for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers, according to the Sun Valley Resort staff:
There are numerous lodging options both at the resort, or at Ketchum and Warm Springs, just a short drive away. After undergoing a renovation on its 80th birthday in 2016, the Sun Valley Lodge – famous for hosting celebrities from Ernest Hemingway to Marilyn Monroe and Clint Eastwood – now offers 108 guestrooms, a fitness center, a glass-enclosed outdoor pool and a 20,000-square-foot destination spa.
Within walking distance to the Sun Valley Nordic Center, the Sun Valley Townhouses have luxury three- and four-bedroom condos with high-end amenities; some with fireplaces and separate media rooms. Located in downtown Ketchum, the Tamarack Lodge has an indoor pool and hot tub, as well as complimentary parking, all steps away from shopping and fine dining. The lodge is also pet-friendly.
Both Sun Valley Resort and the surrounding area have plenty of dining choices. Warms Springs Lodge, at the base of Baldy’s Warm Springs run, has an Idaho potato bar and warm chocolate chip cookies for guests coming in for breakfast and lunch, as well as live music. On the top of the Roundhouse Gondola, the Roundhouse restaurant has been open since 1939, offering up incredible views, along with bison chilli, sweet potato bisque, rack of lamb and ricotta gnocchi. In downtown Ketchum, Michel’s Christiania has upscale French fare within a ski-themed décor, serving oysters in a half shell, house-made pate and escargots in herbed garlic butter.
There are plenty of options for a drink after coming off the lifts both at the Sun Valley Resort and in nearby Ketchum. Apple’s Bar & Grill is close to the lifts and offers nice views from the spacious outdoor deck. The Duchin Lounge in the Sun Valley Lodge – which was renovated in 2016 – is part of an apres-ski tradition that goes back more than 80 years, where guests can enjoy the bar’s signature hot buttered rum and Parmesan fries while watching skiers come off the slopes.
By air, the closest airport to Sun Valley is Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN), 14 miles away, serviced regularly by SkyWest and Alaska Airlines. Complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport is provided by the Sun Valley Resort. The Boise Airport is two and a half hours away and the Twin Falls Airport is two hours away. Daily shuttle services are provided between Sun Valley Resort and the Boise Airport, and both Boise and Twin Falls airports have car rental services.
Guests at the resort don’t necessarily need a car, as it’s a short walk to most shops, restaurants and lodging. There is also the Mountain Rides complimentary bus service, available for transportation throughout the Wood River Valley, connecting Dollar and Bald mountains, as well as Ketchum and Elkhorn Springs.
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|Vertical Drop (ft)||1,421|
|Skiable Area (ac)||100|
|Number of Trails||36|