How to: Ski Sun Valley - Ski Mag

How to: Ski Sun Valley

The most important thing to remember when planning your day at this Idaho resort? Follow the sun, of course.
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Sun Valley Trail Map

Start your day with a few warm up laps: Take the River Run quad to the Lookout Express quad, then glide down Upper and Lower College, two long, slow greens. Veer right and hop back on the Lookout Express. This time, skirt the bowls along Christmas Ridge (“It’s always in the sun,” says Jack Sibbach, director of sales, marketing & P.R. for the resort), then ski the Gun Tower Lane cat track over to Seattle Ridge on the South boundary of the resort.

After skiing the Ridge’s wide-open avenues, advanced skiers will be ready for a challenge. Take the Mayday lift from Byron’s Park, then drop into the Bowls for 1.5 miles of bumpy, black-diamond fun. Intermediate skiers can test their skills here too: Try Sigi’s Bowl or Broadway Face to the South.

You’ll work up an appetite in the Bowls. Break for lunch at the upscale Roundhouse Restaurant at the top of the Cold Springs lift. Try to snag a spot near the four-sided fireplace. Itching to see more of the mountain? Skip the sit-down lunch service and make your way to the Warm Springs Day Lodge on the North side of the resort for a quick bite.

After lunch, if you aren’t there already, follow the sun to Warm Springs and take a 10-minute ride on the Challenger quad to Baldy’s peak, then enjoy 3,100 vertical feet of constant pitch and high speed turns on your way back down.

Lucky enough to visit on a fresh powder day? Head to the Bowls or to the Frenchman’s area, located in a gulley on the North side of Baldy.“When there’s fresh powder, people go to the Bowls right away and jump in. But Frenchman’s is the secret stash: you can ski Graduate, Undergraduate, Can-Can and French Dip before the crowds,” says Sibbach. “The short runs there are more like Eastern skiing, with lots of trails and trees”

Before you leave, make sure to snag a seat on the new eight-person Roundhouse Gondola. From the top, you can visit the Roundhouse Restaurant for an après cocktail, or—if you’re not skied out—follow the gondola’s path down Sleeping Bear, one of the resort’s steepest runs.

Sibbach’s last tip? Pace yourself! “With Sun Valley’s lack of crowds and excellent lift system, it’s not unusual to rack up 50,000 vertical feet in a day without even trying,” he says. “Stop often to rest, drink water, and enjoy the scenery.”


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.

Return of the Sun

America’s first winter resort built its reputation on unsurpassed opulence. Nearly three quarters of a century later, visitors still indulge in Sun Valley’s luxuries, but now it’s the area’s peaceful simplicity that locals and a shrewd owner are so keen to protect.

Reggie Crist in Sun Valley

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.