10 reasons to visit Sun Valley Ski Resort this winter

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300 sunny days a year, generous snowmaking and a diligent grooming programme are good reasons to put Sun Valley Resort on your list this ski season.

As soon as you arrive in the area you’ll be wowed by the beauty of the snow-covered mountains. The mountain lodges have an ambience of old world charm.

One of the good things about Sun Valley Resort is that it’s easy to have a good time in winter, even if you’re not a downhill skier or snowboarder. There are plenty of winter activities for anyone who simply loves holidaying in a winter wonderland. The season usually lasts between late November and early to mid-April.

Here are 10 reasons to head to Sun Valley Resort this winter or spring.

1-Sun Valley Resort has a romantic history


Founded in 1936 by Averell Harriman, the chairman of Union Pacific Railroad, the location of Sun Valley Resort was chosen for its beautiful views and high desert climate.

Being close to Ketchum, a stop on his railway line meant it was also easy to get to. But this was before air travel became common.


Back then, the railway was the regular mode of transport. Harriman was smart enough to lure Hollywood stars and Austrian ski instructors to Sun Valley, turning it into a hot spot for the rich and famous.

2-You could find yourself skiing with a celebrity


The walls of the lodge are plastered with photographs that are a reminder of a romantic bygone era. Thankfully, the atmosphere and décor still reflects its heyday. Sun Valley Ski Resort has continued to attract celebrities.

Clint Eastwood has a house in Sun Valley. The ski run Leigh’s Lane is named after actress Janet Leigh, whose daughter Jamie Lee Curtis skis here with her children.

There’s a run named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also has a house here along with Tom Hanks.

3-The ice skating is pretty good


Sun Valley Resort has a year-round outdoor ice rink and there’s an indoor rink too. The rinks are a training ground for Olympic skaters and in winter, it’s the home rink of the Sun Valley Suns. There are ice hockey matches every Friday and Saturday night.

4-The kids will love the horse-drawn sleigh ride


Sun Valley Resort offers a unique sleigh ride. It’s fun to pull a warm woollen blanket over your shoulders and rug up in a horse-drawn sleigh.

The ride through the woods to the rustic Trail Creek Cabin is a little bumpy but it’s rather exciting to see the snow falling on the ground around you.

A four-course meal is served in the cabin. The atmosphere is warm and convivial and the food is good.

5- Ride the Beast


Although not offered as a regular tour, there may be a chance to ride a snow cat groomer. Watch this video to see what it’s like to be a groomer for the evening.

6- The slopes are great for beginners

Dollar and Baldy Mountain celebrate the season with Fireworks and a Torchlight Parade

If you’ve never been on skis before, Dollar Mountain is an easy slope to learn. It’s usually full of tiny tots and the ski instructors are patient with beginners of all ages.

Sun Valley Ski Resort was home to the world’s first chairlift, which is no longer there.

There are two mountains and if you’re keen to progress, Lower River Run on Bald Mountain has amazing views.

7- Ski Warm Springs

The Warm Springs ski run on Bald Mountain in Sun Valley Ski Resort has a cult-like following among skiers.

If you’re addicted to speed, it’s one of the best stretches of downhill in the country. The run charges through a natural gully with banked sidewalls then opens out into a slope the width of a freeway.

8- Go Nordic skiing or snowshoeing


Snowshoeing and Nordic (cross-country) skiing and are easy to learn and they both offer a good workout.

The Sun Valley Nordic Center and Galena Lodge are well equipped. The trail system is well maintained and you can rent ski and snowshoe equipment for all ages.

9- There’s a decent choice of restaurants

The village is picture-book pretty and has a European fairy tale feel. Dining options range from simple to swish.

Down in the village, the Austrian-inspired Konditorei is the place for fresh pastries by a crackling fire while up on Bald Mountain, atop the Roundhouse Gondola, the Roundhouse is the place for a special treat.

Head to The Ram for piano music and steak or the Duchin Lounge for hot buttered rum and jazz.


10- There’s a friendly community and a warm vibe


People are friendly and helpful. You’re likely to bump into chatty locals on the slopes or in the shops. And speaking about shops, there are plenty of lovely things on the shelves.

The Signature Store sells quality souvenirs, from Sun Valley Resort napkins and dish towels to snowman making kits. Pete Lanes is the place to buy ski clothing and boots.

Christina Pfeiffer was a guest of Sun Valley Resort

Discover USA

Looking for ideas on where to go in the USA? Have you considered Jackson Hole in Wyoming? Or Lake Tahoe in winter?

Across the border, here are some fun things to do in Canada in winter.

10 reasons to visit Sun Valley Ski Resort this winter

10 reasons to visit Sun Valley Ski Resort this winter

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Christina Pfeiffer
Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.