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Ski Resort Life

The Best Places to Stay in Sun Valley for Skiers

The story of skiing in North America is inexorably linked with Sun Valley. Here's are the best hotels, lodges, and inns to lay your head.

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The story of skiing in North America is inexorably linked with Sun Valley and Bald Mountain in Idaho’s Sawtooth mountain range. 

Railroad magnate William Averell Harriman had the idea of emulating the winter sports meccas like those of Europe when he set out to create a grand resort in the 1930s. He wouldn’t just bring new technology to the skiing experience (the first chairlift among other amenities) but he sought to create an entire experience with ice skating, fine dining, entertainment, and natural springs.

The apres ski experience is centered around the Sun Valley Resort (also known as Sun Valley Village).  It’s where you’ll find a plethora of activities including skeet shooting, horseback riding, and golf in the summer; and scenic sleigh rides, cross-country skiing, and ice skating in the summer. A mile down from Sun Valley village is the charming town of Ketchum. While Sun Valley Village is adjacent to Bald Mountain’s smaller sister mountain Dollar Mountain, Ketchum offers a walkable town that’s adjacent to Bald Mountain where the vast majority of the resort’s 2,154 skiable acres are located. Check out our complete guide to Sun Valley here. And when you book your next trip, here’s where we recommend you stay:

Sun Valley Lodge

It’s hard to imagine visiting Sun Valley without seeing the historic Sun Valley Lodge. The historic property. As you walk down the halls, the history of the resort comes alive with a gallery of the resort’s biggest celebrity mainstays including Lucille Ball, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gary Cooper, Ernest Hemmingway, Tom Hanks, and Errol Flynn who skied on the mountain. The history of the resort also is marked by another tradition. For over 35 years, Mark Robert Sheehan and his son Sean have carved an ice sculpture in the shape of the sun at the hotel’s entrance.

With a 20,000-square-foot spa, fitness center, and bowling alley, the 5-star hotel also has plenty of modernity and luxury that guests will enjoy as well.

Sun Valley Inn

Another historical property within Sun Valley Resort is the Sun Valley Inn. With 97 rooms, this is more of a cozy ski chalet with European-inspired decor. The Inn was originally built in 1937 when it was known as the Challenger Inn, but the hotel’s rooms and amenities have all been remodeled. The hotel also is home to a gourmet restaurant (the Ram), as well as a more casual bar and lounge (The Village Station).

Those staying at either of Sun Valley’s two hotels have the benefit of free shuttles to both the mountains, through the Village, and the local airport.

Galena Lodge

For cross-country skiers who want an experience in the middle of the Sawtooth Forest itself, Galena Lodge offers a great remote look at the forest. Operated jointly by the county and the gourmet chef proprietors. Visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing (both skate or classic), and snowshoeing on over 40 miles of trails for just $5-$20 a day. Additionally, they also rent out chariots for a motorized experience. The Galena Lodge offers gourmet meals, wagon rides, and the opportunity to stay in one of four yurts. For those with children, they offer summer camps all throughout the Summer.

Tamarack Lodge & Hotel Ketchum

These partner hotels served as a basecamp for the 2022 SKi Test in Sun Valley and both work well for large groups. The Tamarack Lodge is another hotel that sticks out for its rustic wood exterior and spectacular interior.  The hotel offers economical packages while still offering great amenities including a heated outdoor pool, sun terrace, and bike rentals. It is also a pet-friendly hotel.

Hotel Ketchum is another option that offers a quality breakfast daily, an outdoor pool and hot tub, a business center, and a fitness center. For added luxury, check out the 10 rooms with fireplaces and walk-out balconies. The hotel is also home to Taco and Tequilla Restaurant Barrio 75. We recommend the spicy margarita.

The hotel’s décor is centered around sheep in honor of the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival in Ketchum. As a result, the hotel has sheep skin chairs, two-foot-high plastic sheep that can be found in the lobby, sheep murals, and merchandise in the gift shop that centers around sheep puns for a fun and very Instagram-able vibe.

Limelight Hotel

Limelight Hotel is one of the main architectural highlights dotting the main street of Ketchum with its combination of the wood-glass-stone exterior. Inside the 4-star hotel and resort is no less luxurious. The hotel’s amenities include a full-service spa, outdoor pools and hot tubs, bike and ski rental shops, and an outdoor plaza with flower beds that stand several feet high.

Knob Hill Inn

Located slightly north of downtown Ketchum along Route 75 is the Knob Hill Inn. The spacious European-style resort is renowned for its continental breakfasts and fine dining. There are nine types of rooms offered with the upper levels offering their fair share of luxury. All guests, however, will enjoy a sauna, outdoor pool, hot tub, picturesque mountain views, and complimentary shuttle service.