Sun Valley, ID, Guide and Information
The combination of a high desert climate and a very manageable elevation of just under 6,000 feet make Sun Valley, Idaho and the surrounding area an especially attractive play land for all kinds of outdoor activities throughout the year. Add to that the fact that these locales are in the Rocky Mountains, which means a delightful combo of sun and snow, and also that much of the area is protected from the wind, it comes as no surprise that this central part of Idaho draws visitors from around the world.
Beautiful Bald Mountain looms large over Sun Valley, Ketchum and Elkhorn like a beacon to outdoor enthusiasts enamored with all that mountain life represents. Known affectionately as Baldy, this monolith ranks as the main ski mountain, boasting some 100 trails with a super consistent vertical drop of 3,400 feet. There’s something for everyone from beginner to expert although you won’t have to deal with long flats and plateaus (a snowboarder’s nightmare!). Nearby Dollar Mountain offers a more gentle skiing and riding experience and, in fact, that’s where many people go to do their first turns. It’s also home of America’s largest super pipe and lots of other cool terrain park fun. You’ll find a tubing hill there, too. Fun fact: it’s also where the world’s first chairlift was installed in 1936.
Noteworthy as the first destination winter resort in the United States, a visit to Sun Valley, Idaho and the surrounding area promises a classic mountain experience, one enjoyed by famous and not-so famous people for almost ninety years. Developed in 1932 by W. Averell Harriman, the chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad, in an effort to increase train travel to the great American West, the site was well chosen for its abundant snowfall and sunny weather. (Like most places in the Rocky Mountain West, if it’s not snowing, the sky usually radiates into a bright bluebird day.)
Harriman, an avid skier, had a vision, a dream that turned into a reality when he created Sun Valley, a ski resort whose founding seemed to be spot on when America–and perhaps the world–was still riding high from the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Yes, it was high time to vigorously embrace winter sports–as well as beloved mountain recreation for all seasons–in the United States.