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Sun Valley Ski Holidays

Turning the grand old age of 80 in 2016, Sun Valley is the oldest resort in the US, the birthplace of chair lifts and - we kid you not - hot tubs. With a guest list that reads like a Who’s Who of old Hollywood, for a history buff its firing on all cylinders. It still remains as relevant as the good old days, thanks to almost year-round sun, endless vertical slopes and virtually no crowds.





At a glance: • Glamorous old ski town • Glorious sunshine

Great for: • Families • Intermediates • Non skiers

Turning the grand old age of 80 in 2016, Sun Valley is the oldest resort in the US, the birthplace of chair lifts and - we kid you not - hot tubs. With a guest list that reads like a Who’s Who of old Hollywood, for a history buff its firing on all cylinders. It still remains as relevant as the good old days, thanks to almost year-round sun, endless vertical slopes and virtually no crowds.

Sun Valley Resort

It all started for Sun - and Alpine skiing in the US - not with an American, but an Austrian (and a Count, at that). Felix Schaffgosch spent weeks looking for a spot to rival the best resorts in Switzerland and Austria. When he came across the sleepy mining town of Ketchum and the stonking great Wood River Valley, he knew he’d found it. The rest, as they say, is history – some pretty important history – including the invention of the world’s first chairlift (adapted from a system used to haul bananas onto freight ships…).

Over the years, Sun Valley’s reputation as a cutting-edge resort has earnt it star-studded attention. Just check out the corridors of flagship hotel, the Sun Valley Lodge, for photos of the stars who’ve stayed and played here, and suites named after favourite guests, like Marilyn Monroe, Hemingway and Clint Eastwood (did you SNO: Hemingway finished “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in Suite 206...). The celebrity trend hasn’t abated, and famous faces you may spot on the slopes today include Zuckerberg and Oprah... Batman (aka Adam West) lives here too.

But why so popular? For a start, the mountains. 2 of them, Bald Mountain (“Baldy”) and Dollar Mountain have more than 121 perfectly groomed runs between them, and many at the constant pitches that make for effortless, dream-like skiing. There’s terrain for everyone and often not a soul in sight as you sail down it. Next, there’s luxurious Sun Valley village and the old mining town of Ketchum (just a short shuttle ride away) – a compelling mix of heart, history and modern infrastructure. Finally, Sun Valley is so-called for a reason. It sees an average 250 days of the stuff a year.

It’s not much of a surprise that 95% of visitors plan a second trip.

Stats & FAQ

Location: Idaho, USA

Established: 1936

Open: November - April

Downhill: 2154 acres / 121 runs

View our detailed Sun Valley snow forecast or snow report and see all live webcams, piste maps, road and travel maps and lift pass prices. For a picture of historic snow conditions see the snow depths month by month with our Sun Valley snow history.

Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN)15 miles, 30 mins
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)296 miles, 4.5 hours
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 36%

  • 42%

  • 22%

Top Altitude:9150ft / 2789m
Bottom Altitude:5920ft / 1805m
Resort Altitude:5920ft / 1805m
Longest run:3 miles
Slope Orientation:
Vertical Drop:
Skiable Vertical:3000ft
Night Skiing:No

Snow Report

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Web Cam

Sun Valley web cams
Downhill Runs:2154 acres / 121 runs
Beginner slopes:36%
Advanced slopes:22%
Lift Pass Price: $71-128 (adult pass per day)
Nearby resorts:

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Sun Valley

With a respectable 2154 skiable acres, a variety of terrain and a lack of lift lines, it’s not hard to see why Sun Valley has so many die-hard fans. The taller peak, Baldy (9150ft), is counted among the top ski mountains in the world for its groomers, towering high with an impressive vertical of 3400ft. Meanwhile, Dollar has progressed from having the world’s first chairlift to being “Park Central,” with some of the best pipe and park offerings in the North West (including a 22-foot super pipe).

For beginners and families, Dollar is the place to start, a friendly mountain made up almost entirely of blue and green runs. This is also the base of Sun Valley’s famed ski school. Once they’ve helped you’ve mastered your turns, Baldy has the trickier terrain, including green run U.College, dropping 3000ft from the Lookout restaurant.

With blue trails making up 42 percent of the terrain, Sun Valley is intermediate heaven, with the pick of both mountains depending on your mood. The endless groomers from the River Run Chairlift or the manageable (but exhilarating) bowls from the Mayday chairlift always leave a lasting impression.

There are no double black diamonds at Sun, but plenty of singles to please veteran skiers. Nowhere else in the US matches its long, steep groomers, perfect for high speed laps – and the reason you’ll catch so many famous racers here.

Heli-skiing is yet another activity in which this resort excels, with the largest permit area in the US, covering over 750,000 skiable acres. The Sun Valley Heli Ski guides have a collective 100 years of experience and have perfect heli ski trips down pat.

Sun Valley Apres Ski

You can bet that 80 years in the business has left Sun Valley with some interesting après. The Pioneer Saloon still has the bullet holes to show for its days during the old Wild West, and this is just one of over 50 bars and restaurants between the village and Ketchum.

A quintessential bottom-of-the-lifts après bar, Apples, is the where the excitement tends to start and is often crammed to the rafters with Olympians (so bring your autograph book).

The Warfield Distillery is another winner with tasty brews and views, with a rooftop deck overlooking Baldy. From here, nights can take one of two turns… A pub crawl, ending ultimately in the raucous Casino Club, or a more civilised affair at a jazz show or restaurant. With super fine dining at the likes of Evergreen Bistro, a night of all-out extravagance here comes highly recommended.

Sun Valley insists it has more outdoor recreational activities than any other destination resort in the US, and we’re inclined to agree. If you aren’t into paragliding, tubing, snowshoeing or ice skating (indoor or out), there are also 2 “glass-enclosed” heated pools, movies at the Opera House and a 6-lane bowling alley... If, after all this, you need help finding your zen, it’s off to the Garden of Infinite Compassion with you, where there’s a prayer wheel that was blessed by the Dalai Lama.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Sun Valley

Best time to visit & ski Sun Valley

One of the largest snowmaking systems in the country (covering 78% of the ski area) joins an average 225 inches of annual snow here, ensuring a healthy amount of the white stuff all season long. Called Sun Valley for a reason, something like 250 days of sun each year means blissful bluebird days are often a reality, even in December and January.

Peak Dates

This resort claims to be St. Nick’s favourite stop, and in recent years he’s certainly had his fill of fun over Christmas in Sun Valley with the annual Nutcracker on Ice show, carolers, fireworks and torchlit parades down Dollar.

Besides the traditional music, s'mores and night skiing on Dollar mountain to sail into the New Year in Sun Valley, the Bubbly Bash at the River Run Lodge has annually soaked revellers in free Champagne and there’s booze-fuelled fun to be found down in the Ketchum bars.

With slopes this quiet and terrain this good, it’s worth taking the road less travelled to spend Half Term in Sun Valley for a relaxing break from the classroom.

With beautiful warm spring weather, and high-altitude snow to ski on, Easter in Sun Valley is sure to put a spring in your step…

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Families in Sun Valley

With an entire mountain (Dollar) dedicated to less steady skiers and boarders, and a parent-free beginner’s area, Sun Valley is a fantastic place for the little ones to get to grips with their turns. The Sun Valley Snowsports School offers lessons to kids aged 4-12 (which can be combined with day-care so you don’t have to cut your skiing short), as well as special Teen Adventure programmes. Over on Baldy Mountain, themed Adventure Trails, like Foxy Forest never fail to delight. Best yet, on special weeks, the ski area frequently offers free lift passes to kids under 12.

If they’re too young for salopettes, childcare is available for ages 1-5 and makes sure tots get out and enjoy all that this resort has to offer – with plenty of snowshoeing and sledding expeditions.

GroupsGroup Holidays Sun Valley

Whether you’re planning a getaway for four or forty, this is a cracking resort. Even the sleighs here hold up to 20, and for an evening activity it doesn’t get better than a group sleigh ride and dinner at Trail Creek Cabin. There’s après for all tastes, ranging from the live music and dancing at Whiskey Jacques to the ice cold beers at Lefty’s Grill, and the resort has been known to host special events on request.

Between the bowls and glistening groomers of Baldy and beginner-friendly Dollar mountain, no one’s going to feel short-changed at Sun Valley.

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