In 1936, deep in south-central Idaho’s jagged Sawtooth Mountains, Sun Valley Resort spun the world’s very first chairlift. For 81 years, the resort has been offering up some of the best skiing in the western United States on Bald and Dollar mountains, the two peaks that make up the resort.
Obviously, the sunny, snowy resort town is steeped in history. Ernest Hemingway completed his famous novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, while staying at the Sun Valley Lodge in 1939. Pale Rider (1985) starring Clint Eastwood was filmed in Sun Valley. Warren Miller began his illustrious ski film career while camping in the Bald Mountain parking lot. Ski movie-maker Dick Barrymore called Sun Valley home for many years. Smith Optics, which invented the first dual lens, anti-fogging goggle, was founded there. Gretchen Fraser, the first woman to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics, grew up in town. In fact, 39 living Olympians reside in Sun Valley. Freeskiing icons Reggie and Zach Crist, Lynsey Dyer, Lexi Dupont, Karl Fostvedt, Banks Gilberti and Collin Collins all hail from the area.
For the 2017-18 ski season, Sun Valley will give a nod to its wonderful history while making key updates and renovations. The Sun Valley Inn has welcomed weary skiers into its beds since 1937 and its rooms will receive a remodel, while maintaining the same traditional European Alps-inspired décor it’s always had. The Ram, one of the resort’s original dining establishments, will also receive a facelift in the form of a new kitchen, updated furniture and new floors, but that original look and feel will remain the same.
On the mountain, the Cold Springs lift, the resort’s oldest operating chairlift, will be replaced with a detachable quad that will rise 1,525 vertical feet in six minutes. Construction will begin as soon as the 18/19 season.
Sun Valley will also be expanding its terrain offerings with a new zone off of Seattle Ridge, on the far skier’s right of the mountain. Eager skiers will be able to drop into Turkey Bowl and access a whole new world of steep tree skiing, bumping the resort’s skiable acreage up to 2,434 acres. While the terrain won’t be open to the public until 2018-19, Sun Valley is offering guided tours for expert skiers in the new Cold Springs area beginning in January.