Inside Line: Sun Valley, ID

Sun Valley oozes history. In 1936, it debuted the world’s first chairlift and became a full-fledged destination resort, drawing visitors like Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, and Louis Armstrong. And in 1946, Warren Miller started making ski movies there. Today, Sun Valley’s the home of ski-film stars Zach and Reggie Crist and the premier heli-ski outfitter in Idaho. But the real reason it’s a resort for the ages: Sun Valley’s terrain—ranging from high-speed rippers to wide-open bowls—never gets old.
Publish date:
Updated on
Reggie Crist in Sun Valley

Powder Day: The Bowls will be packed. Instead, head down Flying Squirrel to a track through the trees on skier’s right to reach Frenchman’s South Slopes. A 10-minute hike up the ridge will get you to low-angle, gladed powder.

Three Days Later: Fire Trail, a steep shot through the trees, is camouflaged in the intermediate terrain off the Seattle Ridge chair. For stashes, hit the trees just skier’s right of Gretchen’s Gold.

Park and Pipe: With no true park, Sun Valley tries its damnedest with an immaculately groomed superpipe on Lower Warm Springs. Or try the flat, open area flanked by old storage trailers, nature-made rails, and skier-made hits at the top of I-80 nicknamed Grandma’s House.

Backcountry Access: Drop off the back of 9,150-foot Baldy into the 2,000-vertical-foot out-of-bounds Turkey Bowl. The 2007 Castle Rock Fire burned almost 50,000 acres in the area—and opened up new glades. Check avy conditions or hire a guide online at

Weather: They don’t call it Sun Valley for nothing. The sun shines 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent, it dumps. Last year, the mountain received 232 inches.

Après: At Apple’s, next to Warm Springs Lodge, beer flows and most skiers wear ski gear into the early evening. Less than two miles away in Ketchum, Lefty’s has burgers, hand-cut fries, drafts from the local River Bend Brewery, and personalized mugs hanging from the ceiling.

Fuel: Start your day with java from the Coffee Grinder, on East 4th Street, or crab-cake eggs Benedict and cheesy home fries from the Rustic Moose, on Highway 75 north of Ketchum. For lunch, get a chili dog with the works from Irving’s Red Hots, the stand at the base of Warm Springs.

Up All Night: The oldest and boldest bar in town, Whiskey Jacques, burned down this fall. So your best bets are shuffleboard at The Cellar or old-timers’ tall tales at the saloon-like Casino.

Digs: Rent a condo slopeside at Edelweiss, which has a heated pool with views of the lifts, full kitchens, and a free downtown shuttle that stops outside the front door (from $146; Or get a room in Ketchum at the Tamarack Lodge for better access to the restaurants and bars (from $89;

Elevation: 9,150 feet

Vertical Drop: 3,400 feet

Snowfall: 219 inches

Acres: 2,045



Sun Valley has a wealth of restaurants, both fine dining for a romantic date and casual family-friendly hotspots.  To play it fancy, visit the Lodge Dining Room.  For a hearty prime rib, go to the Pioneer Saloon.  Look no further than Il Naso for an urban Italian experience.  To spend quality time with your family overlooking the ice rink, head to Gretchen's.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley’s terrain—ranging from high-speed rippers to wide-open bowls—never gets old.

Bald Mountain’s shady north face is named after the hot springs-fed creek that runs through the base area. The signature run, Warm Springs, is one of the classic groomer descents in the country. If you can’t have fun on Warm Springs, you need a fresh tune and a ski lesson. This is not the place to slide a turn or suck at skiing. Few things compare to over 3,000 vertical feet of high-speed GS turns down this alley. Your legs will tremble and your lips will quiver with a strange mix of terror, excitement, and exhaustion. Warm Springs will make you remember that like powder, carving is pretty damn exhilarating. Plus, if you luck out with a fat storm with southwest flow, The Burn, the sidecountry zone created by the 2007 Castle Rock wildfire just off Warm Spring’s western boundary, is some of the best powder skiing in the country.

Secrets to Skiing Sun Valley

It’s a simple existence in Sun Valley, Idaho. Ski, party, repeat. But combine a demanding mountain with celebrity sightings and seemingly bottomless schooners of beer, and spending time at America’s most storied ski resort is anything but easy. Here’s a guide to doing it right.

The Gathering thumb

The Gathering: Sun Valley, ID

The Gathering, a movie and music festival, took place last weekend in Sun Valley, Idaho, for the second year in a row. Movies were watched, shotguns were fired, and rednecks listened to reggae.

The Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships were held at Kirkwood, California on Sunday, Feb 27th and Monday, Feb 28th—two beautiful bluebird days after a storm

Inside Line: Kirkwood, CA

Kirkwood is off the grid in more ways than one. The whole place runs on generators. Lift lines are six people deep on a powder day. Sierra storms fill the ski-porn-worthy terrain, closing roads and shutting down lifts for days. But with inbounds runs slanted up to 42 degrees, the most reliable snow in the area, and chutes that make big-mountain skiers queasy, it’s hard to believe the resort stays so low-key. Thank the hourlong drive from South Lake Tahoe’s packed casinos and resorts, which ensures Kirkwood remains unsullied by the masses. Just the way skiers there like it.

Portillo, Chile

Inside Line: Portillo, Chile

At Portillo, there’s a good chance you’ll share a Poma with Seth Morrison or Daron Rahlves. It’s the off-season training spot for the pros. It’s no wonder why. All above treeline, the terrain is point-and-go, from rock-lined chutes to wide-open bowls to impeccably groomed cruisers. Laps are punctuated by boots-off, white-tablecloth lunches, hot-tub soaks, Ping-Pong with the locals, and thumping disco. Stay at the all-inclusive, European-style Portillo Lodge, where ski history seeps from wooden walls decorated with trophies from the first World Cup races. Thanks to overnight flights from the U.S. and a two-hour drive from the Santiago airport, you can even ski the day you arrive.