We’ve just finished a morning of skiing hard and fast in glorious sunshine down the spectacular Seattle Ridge area of Sun Valley, Idaho. While it takes a few ski lifts to get to this area, it has great runs with a variety of terrain.
Our group cruises to one of two base areas and we spread out at a table in front of the band. We order lunch and drinks in the gorgeous River Run Lodge at Bald Mountain and sit back to relax.
The band is playing, a fire is roaring in the vast floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace and people are crowding in on big tables to enjoy delicious food from the restaurant. It operates like a buffet, with a variety of foods ready to go and prepared fresh. They also have lots of gluten-free items and options for those with other food allergies, as well.
While I’m proud to call White Pass my home mountain, I love to ski at different resorts around the world and Sun Valley is always an easy choice. On this trip, I am skiing with a great group of Yakima women as we celebrate our friend Joy’s 40th birthday.
Most of us downhill ski and are enjoying the challenging and long slopes of Sun Valley, while a few of the women take time out to go to the spa, cross country ski and relax at the house. I know plenty of people who vacation to Sun Valley in the winter for something other than the skiing.
Sun Valley earns its name with abundant sunshine; every ski holiday I’ve taken to this great ski town has been sun-filled most of the time. My husband and son certainly didn’t mind the epic powder day that came with heavy clouds across the valley, either.
An easy eight-hour drive or quick flight from Yakima, Sun Valley is really made up of two towns — Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho. There are two base areas to the main ski area, River Run and Warm Springs, each offering shopping, food, drinks, and rentals for avid skiers. Because they make snow as well as relying on mother nature, this ski resort is skiable even in dry winters.
Across the valley from the steep runs of Bald Mountain, is the original ski hill. Skiing in Sun Valley is particularly great for families because of this original location. Dollar Mountain is a small ski hill with only a handful of lifts and easy runs that kids enjoy learning on. They also have a “magic carpet” where kids ride a conveyor belt up a slight slope to the top, then ski down. Ski instructors at Sun Valley are renowned for not only their skill, but their gregarious nature.
Many of my friends’ children learned to ski at Sun Valley because of this particular ski hill and the great instruction. A really special component of children’s ski school at Sun Valley is their interest and ability in working with children with special needs.
Skiing when your kids are young is tricky unless there is a reliable and fun day care center on the mountain. Dollar Mountain attracts learners and families and has a very fun child care center that our youngest loves (and begs to go to even now that she can ski with us!).
My family also likes Dollar Mountain for a different reason — the terrain park and jumps. Both my husband and my son love to do tricks while skiing, whether it is a 180-degree turn in the air or backflips. In his younger years, my husband did backflips on skis. On one of our recent trips to Sun Valley, he was egged on by our children and, after a few tries, nailed a perfect backflip off of one of Dollar Mountain’s big snow jumps. Finally, our kids think their dad is cool.
We love ski towns not only for the skiing but also for the fun villages that can often be found where skiers congregate. Downtown Ketchum is filled with walkable streets, a central plaza, restaurants, cafes, and loads of interesting and quirky shops. The town has so many Yakima visitors that we frequently run into friends at restaurants or even on the slopes. Some of our most loved restaurants include Il Naso, Town Square Tavern, and Enoteca. The Burrata at Enoteca, the roasted cauliflower at Town Square Tavern and the elk chop at Il Naso are some of our favorites.
There are also plenty of casual and quick spots to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner in town. The restaurants on the mountain are equally impressive with both fine dining and casual options. Keep a look out while dining as celebrities are frequently spotted at the next table over during dinner!
This ski town has plenty of lodging to choose from, including everything from a lovely Best Western to the iconic Sun Valley Lodge, to private condos and sprawling homes offered through Airbnb and similar sites. We always have a car while staying in Sun Valley so we have access to the entire valley.
Like most ski resorts, Sun Valley offers plenty of activities for the non-skiers in your group including sleigh rides, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. A person truly committed to relaxing could also spend an entire day at the Sun Valley Lodge Spa, which offers typical spa services such as a variety of massages, facials, pedicures and manicures, as well as services such as acupuncture and haircuts for the whole family.
Winter is my favorite time to visit, but the other seasons offer plenty of things to do as well, including hiking, fly fishing, biking and mountain biking, horseback riding, swimming, golf and tennis. They also offer great day camps for kids such as Galena Youth Adventure Camp and summer ice skating school.
Our family loves Sun Valley so much so that I already have another trip booked again this coming ski season. This time, I hope to spend some time at the spa.