Sun Valley

This was my first visit to Sun Valley, Idaho.  We spent 7 days at the condos in the Sun Valley Lodge that are called Wildflower Condominiums.  A great place for a ski vacation.

The Lodge is total old school.  In 1935, Sun Valley was created by Averell Harriman, who was the Chairman of the Union Pacific railroad, looking for the perfect ski destination.  The first chairlift was erected there too.  A South American, who used the machine that loads the bananas as the basis for his design.  The original is still up there on the mountain run by a model T engine. 

When you walk through the lodge, particularly the old restaurant, you can imagine the Hollywood stars who used to hang out at Sun Valley.  After all, their pictures still hang on the walls.  Erroll Flynn, Lucille Ball, etc.

I recommend if you go, rent a car.  They do have a really good bus system but I am not sure we would have enjoyed ourselves as much waiting around for the bus at every turn.  The town is about a 5 minute drive and we ate in town most nights.  The ski resort, the River Run side,  is about an 8 minute drive.

The mountain is incredible.  Huge.  Intelligently designed.  The trails flow easily and there are trails that can cut you across from one side of the mountain to the other very quickly.  In ski/board lingo they are called cat tracks.  Yet, the beauty of these cat tracks is that they all have pitch.  This is great for boarders because you don’t have to take off your board and walk.  It is a really beautiful thing.  Loved this mountain.  Also, the trails are really long.  Moguls flow into flats so if your family skis both, it is easy to ski as a group.

There are a few lodges placed around the mountain for eating and relaxing.  The food is quite good and the lodges are beautiful.  If you have ever been to Deer Valley, it is that sort of high level lodge that is here.  At least that is what it reminded me of. 

Restaurants are abundant.  The town is small but cute.  A bunch of shopping.  Better than we expected.  A few coffee shops.  A great market that we stopped at daily to pickup the NY Times and fill our refrigerator with breakfast makings.

The snow was incredible this year.  We were told that is not always the case the third week of March.  One of the best things is the mountain was empty.  At least it felt that way.  We never waited in line for a lift.  Many times we were the only one on the chair. 

Sun Valley is a true destination location.  Not the easiest to get to which is what makes it special.  One thing that we noticed there is the age of people skiing and boarding one the mountain.  Lots of retired people that I would say are in their late 60’s and early 70’s.  We saw 3 women getting off the chair.  Two were carrying their skis, one was carrying her board.  I’d say these women were about 70-75.  Quite impressive.  Particularly the boarder. 

A great trip.  Really really great mountain.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Jim Fobes

    by Averell Harriman, who was the Chairman of the Union Pacific railroad, looking for the perfect ski destination.
    As importantly for Harriman, it was also his destination for trists with his mistress.
    Harriman’s public displays of his mistress cost him a lot of respect.
    Harriman wasn’t all bad, Later in life, working with the Olympics, he did a lot of good. He was also instrumental in negotiating the release from captivity by the Pathet Lao of a BBC/NBC reporter named Grant Wolfkill, my former boss and VP of corp comm at E.R. Squibb.
    Did you go on the Hemingway tour or Fish the Big Sandy?
    I enjoy your blog a great deal.

    Jim Forbes
    ( a retired reporter now home in Southern California, after 35 years in technology journalism.)

  2. Chris Heuer

    I could not agree with you more. I was fortunate enough to be invited along for a retreat with Senator Crapo a few years back and found it to be one of the best locations for a real vacation I have ever experienced. We ran into Tom Hanks in that tiny little airport, and he could not have been more gracious. It is a special place and a truly incredible mountain that challenged me on every run – as steep and deep as they come.

    We took the sleigh ride from the resort over to Trail Creek Cabin for dinner. Did you get over there? Next time you go back, you must do it, even if it is snowing, it is quite the experience.

  3. Dave Chase

    You captured the feel of the area very well (I live in SV). Your experience with lift lines is the norm. The worst line I’ve ever experienced on the busiest day of the season is 10 minutes. The flip side of it being somewhat difficult to get to SV is the lack of crowds. If one is up for Nordic/X-C or backcountry/heli skiing, it’s even more the case. There’s a new gondola making the trip up the mountain that much more pleasant.

    The other thing that isn’t unusual about your experience is the folks in their 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s. One of the best boarders on the entire mountain is well into his 70’s. The guy absolutely rips down the mountain. The father of one of my daughter’s friends is 83 and still skis 100+ days a year (and his daughter is 10!). It’s truly inspiring to see these folks tear it up.

    The part about Sun Valley that attracted us beyond even the recreation were the people. You won’t find a friendlier high-end ski resort in this country.