When it comes to cold-weathered fun, this valley was born for it. Which might explain why the world’s first ski lift was installed here. Or why it was here that heli-skiing first landed in the lower 48 states. Historic? Yes. A kick in the snowsuit? You bet. Just ask and we’ll share some history along with our tips, tricks and secrets for getting the most out of Sun Valley.
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Skiing & Snowboarding
Two mountains, 3,400-vertical feet, more than 2,000 acres of terrain and the highest per-hour, per-skier lift capacity anywhere on earth. Translation: Sun Valley is crowdless skiing and riding at its best. It’s the home light, fluffy powder, as well as the largest automated fleet of snow making machines in the United States. Steep bump runs are as common as perfectly manicured blues. Families love the themed Adventure Trails. And at the Dollar Mountain Progression Park, the sky is filled with twisting, flipping, crashing beginners, intermediates and pros.
There’s a reason why the Norwegian Olympic cross-country ski team trained here before the Vancouver Winter Games. More than 200 km (124 mi) of immaculately groomed terrain give Sun Valley the distinction of having one of the most expansive nordic trail systems anywhere in the world. And because it covers so much territory, you can drop your skis down and start from practically anywhere. Especially around the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe center, where you’ll find rentals, maps, instruction and guided tours.
Where else but the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center can a snowshoer feel more at home? It’s where you’ll find 42 km (26 mi) worth of groomed trails, many of which are dedicated for snowshoeing. Another great option for walking on the wild side is the 112 km (69 mi) cross-country trail system at Galena Lodge. Snowshoers get a few trails of their own here, too. Some are even dog-friendly, and a few are hilly enough to test your balance as much as your sense of humor.
Here are several options for ice skating year round. In Hailey is the newly built Campion Ice house for hockey leagues, open skating and curling. Next to the ice house they flood the rodeo arena during the winter, for family skating during the day or under the lights at night. The outdoor rink at Atkinson’s park, in Ketchum is great. Pond hockey tournaments are held each year on this sheet of ice, plus it is open daily for skating. If you’re looking to go the more traditional route, Sun Valley Ice Rink’s outdoor ice-sheet and indoor arena get the job done. Both of Sun Valley’s ice rinks are open year round. The outside rink is one of only a handful in the world that is open year round; it is where the famous Sun Valley ice show is held every Saturday from July 4th to Labor Day weekend. Bring your skates! Actually, just rent theirs and save the room in your suitcase.
Backcountry & Heli-skiing
Few places in America are as accessible to backcountry skiing and snowboarding. It’s available pretty much everywhere you look from the top of Bald Mountain. And the surrounding mountains are scattered with well-equipped huts and yurts open and ready for anyone needing a little shelter.
This is where heli-skiing in the lower 48 states got its start. And for good reason. Namely, the many incredible chutes, powder stashes and bowls scattered throughout these mountains. We’ll help get you the lift you need with a reputable local company.
Snowmobilers have a lot to rev about throughout the Sun Valley area. Groomed trails stretching as far as the eye can see. Wide open backcountry that would make an agoraphobiac cringe. Head to the Smiley Creek and Stanley area for 170 miles of groomed trails, as well as rentals at the Smiley Creek Lodge. For a more gun-it-and-go experience, check out the open play areas in the Fairfield region, and vast trail system that just might be endless. Your closest bet is the Baker Creek zone, ten miles north of Ketchum.