Last week, I had my first opportunity to visit Sun Valley. I’ve skied many of the resorts in Colorado and Utah, but I’ve never made it up to the great state of Idaho.
Every year, I vow to ski my age. At 52, that means I need to pace myself on the slopes. That said, I couldn’t resist putting in 5+ hours and 30,000 vertical feet of downhill in for each of the two days I skied. I absolutely loved the Sun Valley mountain.
First, a couple of observations about the area:
- Sun Valley isn’t the easiest place to get to, and that’s great. The area is never going be overrun with people. Boise offers the most flight options, but the drive in will take 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Twin Falls, is nearly 2 hours away and is a good compromise between flight choices and distance to Sun Valley. However, the most convenient, by far, is to fly into Hailey (SUN), which is a quick 15 drive from Sun Valley.
- The town of Ketchum is the main commercial center. Sun Valley is more of a resort community. Obviously, anyone who’s ever been here before knows this, but I’m a newcomer.
- There are a plentiful selection of restaurants and stores in the area. As you might expect, the prices are a bit higher than the suburbs of a big city, but very much in line with prices of other resort towns.
- The people are wonderful. Whether it was at the restaurants, stores, or on the lifts, nearly everyone was friendly and seemed genuinely happy.
Comments about the ski area:
- This is a drive to ski area, even though the towns of Ketchum and Warm Springs are quite close. There are very few true ski in-out rental properties. However, the free parking lots are served by shuttle buses and are only a short 5 minute walk from the lifts.
- At first, I didn’t understand that the real beginners learn on Dollar Mountain before moving to Bald Mountain. As a result, the vast majority of the skiers on the mountain were good to great. I LOVED THAT! No beginners to dodge.
- Runs on Bald are long and at a fairly constant pitch. At most resorts, runs tend to alternate between a steeper pitch and a flatter area. Not at Sun Valley. For those who like speed, like me, this is fabulous.
- There is an amazing amount of snow making equipment on the mountain, though this winter there’s been plenty of natural snow.
- The bowls are absolutely fabulous! They were big, long, had plenty of power, and best of all – empty. Most skiers on the mountain seemed to prefer the groomers, which was totally fine with me.
- I didn’t notice a lot of difference in difficulty between the green runs and the black runs, at least not compared with other resorts. Greens at Sun Valley were more like blues elsewhere, while double blacks at Sun Valley would at best qualify as a black at a resort like Telluride. That said, for an advanced intermediate skier like myself, this resort was heaven.
- Signage was generally good, except for directions out of the Seattle Ridge area.
- NO LIFT LINES! I visited on MLK weekend and never stood in line for more than 2 minutes.
I can’t wait to come back and try some spring skiing in Sun Valley. Thanks to the folks at Alpine Lodging for helping me find lodging, and that’s the guys at Door 2 Door Ski Rentals for the excellent service.