Sun Valley Lodge
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1 Sun Valley Rd.
Ketchum, Idaho 83353
In 1935, the head of Union Pacific Railroad sent a German count to search for a place in the American West beautiful enough to attract generations to come. That place was Sun Valley, and the count, inspired by mining rigs and the European ski craze, strung lifts up on Bald Mountain, creating America's first official ski resort. One year later the duo broke ground on the Sun Valley Lodge, where it still exists today in its original spot at the resort base. Multitudes of skiers have passed(+) More
In 1935, the head of Union Pacific Railroad sent a German count to search for a place in the American West beautiful enough to attract generations to come. That place was Sun Valley, and the count, inspired by mining rigs and the European ski craze, strung lifts up on Bald Mountain, creating America's first official ski resort. One year later the duo broke ground on the Sun Valley Lodge, where it still exists today in its original spot at the resort base. Multitudes of skiers have passed through its halls sinceski bums like Warren Miller and Hollywood luminaries like Clark Gable included. Even Ernest Hemingway was said to have frequented the Duchin Lounge, just off the lobby, during his latter days in Ketchum (though, to be fair, many area bars make the claim). And while Sun Valley Lodge might be considered America's first ski lodge, it's certainly not a relic of history. Rooms, from simple double-queen-bed domiciles to the two-room Parlor Suite with its fireplace and two flat-screen televisions, are appointed with Versailles-esque French-style period furniture. Several of the 148 rooms boast balconies with views out onto the low rolling tops of Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains. The striped wallpaper and paint are more reminiscent of 1930s Paris than of a little burg in central Idaho. Marble baths and high-speed Internet round out lodging with modern convenience, and a ski-concierge service gets you to the slopes quickly. The heatedof courseoutdoor pool lets hotel guests take a dip after a day of skiing, but given that the average low temperature in January is about four degrees Fahrenheit, the deckchairs seem a little superfluous.
Though ski-film pioneer Warren Miller got his start sleeping in his van in Sun Valley's parking lot, you won't find a lot of terrain similar to today's cliff-jumping versions of his films. Sun Valley is best known for its consistent, fall-line pitches and top-notch grooming. The Challenger chairlift's 3,400 vertical feet makes it the longest in North America. It's not unheard of to knock off 40,000 vertical feet (or 12 top to bottom runs) in a single day. But the steepest run tips to 35 degrees, roughly a black diamond at most resorts, and there's one halfpipe and a handful of jib rails on the entire 2,054 acres.
Honestly, the placesleigh rides, stables, gun club, and allcomes off as a bit stodgy, but events like the recently hosted Ski Tour and the proliferation of trendy cocktail bars on surrounding Main Street in Ketchum liven things up a bit. The 1,471-seat Sun Valley Pavilion music center had its debut performance in July 2008 (the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, of course), and a new gondola connecting the River Run base to the on-mountain Roundhouse station is scheduled to open for the 2009-10 season. The lodge has a spa proffering the latest in sports massage, and an in-lodge beauty salon can update your look before you head into the lodge's formal dining room for dinner. This place may be classic, but there's no reason you have to look the part.
A former senior editor at Skiing magazine, Pieter van Noordennen owns more ski jackets than any man should.(-) Close
Expert Review of Sun Valley Lodge
Parks and Outdoors Review of Sun Valley Lodge
- Sun Valley Stables on the resort property offers short horseback riding trips and sleigh rides.
- The resort is just a mile up Sun Valley Road from the Sawtooth Scenic Byway.
- Ask at the inn about setting up guided fly-fishing trips with one of the resort's partner outfitters.