Sun Valley, Idaho: Rank 19 West, 1997

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There's nothing dotty about the dowager of American ski resorts. Sun Valley earned Top-10 nationalrankings in Service, Grooming, On-Mountain Food, Après-Ski, Lifts, Dining and Lodging. Add Sun Valley's magic history, authentic small-town atmosphere and bountiful terrain, and this 62-year-old resort hasn't dropped (No. 2 in 1995), it has only reverted to one of the better-kept secrets in American skiing. The mountain offers a rare combination of wide-open cruisers, bowl speedsters and bumps galore. "The best of everything except accessibility," a reader critiques. Dine at the Pioneer Saloon, The Ketchum Grill or Desperadoes. Indulge in Sunday Brunch at the Sun Valley Lodge Dining Room. If you want to step back into history without sacrificing comfort, reserve a night at the Lodge, then beg the reservationist to give you the Hemingway Room. If you get in, thank Papa's ghost with a glass of good Pinot.

What's New Renovations at the Sun Valley Inn; the Sun Valley Company will run the Ore House.
A Good Deal The Thanksgiving dinner buffet at the Sun Valley Lodge, three days skiing, four-nights lodging and all the fixin's, $222/person; (208) 622-4111.
Medals Gold Grooming, Terrain, Lifts, Service, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Après-Ski, Off-Hill Activities; Silver Weather, Dining, Family Programs.
High/Low Rank Service (3); Accessibility (76).
Don't Miss Cross-country skiing at the Galena Lodge. Stick around for lunch or a full-moon dinner; (208) 726-4010.
Reader Remarks "You can get a full day skiing in half a day with the lifts here." "Lovely but dull, old-fashioned. Needs more expert terrain."