The birthplace of modern-day destination skiing, the Northern Rockies hold a gem of a resort, Sun Valley Resort. Voted North America’s Top Ski Resort by SKI Magazine three years in a row, we think there is something here worth visiting.

Sun Valley has unmatched elegance. The skiing is excellent, but it isn’t what makes this place #1. The glamor on and off the slopes pulls visitors in from all around the world.

The lodging, dining, customer service, apres ski, and nightlife are top-notch. Picture everything a perfect ski holiday contains; you will find this at Sun Valley Resort. Spas, pools, fitness centers, entertainment, daycare, galore.

The Resort has two mountains to shred; Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. Find rippable, fun terrain, perfect groomers, zero chair lift lines, nice on-mountain facilities, and an authentic mountain town.

Crowds are handled impeccably well due to the lift systems placing people in far corners of the mountain. Bottlenecks and congestion are avoided, and so are lift lines. People do visit, so booking your holiday in advance is essential.


Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Satisfying Apres-Ski Scene
  • check-mark
    Easy to fly into
  • check-mark
    Endless pitch and long vertical descent
  • check-mark
    Good snow preservation, quality, and snowmaking
  • check-mark
    Elegant ski area

Things we don't like:

  • check-markRare powder days

Where to Book:

Sun Valley Idaho Featured

Sun Valley Idaho Resort 2023 Guide

See the complete list of the best Ski Resorts here!


Ketchum, Idaho, is home to this wonderful ski valley. Here, one will find over 2,400 acres to rip down. Both mountains are gems. Dollar Mountain is beginner focused, while Bald Mountain has consistent pitch and versatile terrain.

Priding itself as being America’s first destination ski resort, Sun Valley Resort is an old dawg. The world’s first chair lift was installed here in 1936. High-end vacationers have flocked to this ski spot for nearly a century. People keep coming back for a reason.

Dollar Mountain is the go-to beginner spot. Learning to ski or snowboard here is the vibe. Cruising beginner and intermediate groomers take up most of this mountain. However, there are also 9 terrain parks here. The parks range from x-small to large.

Bald Mountain has a consistent pitch, varied terrain, fast groomers, an efficient mountain layout, and new 79-acre glade skiing area. Advanced riders will find paradise on these slopes. Beginner riders will find

Sun Valley’s average snow record is on the low side for a destination resort. Accumulating about 220in of snow a year could make some shy away. However, the trails ski great with a 36in base due to any large obstacles being removed from the runs.

The snow’s density is similar to Utah’s famed light, fluffy powder. The bowls at Sun Valley help make deep pow skiing in the fall lines dreamy. However, it won’t come around too often. The bowls are snow dependent and usually will not be covered until mid-January.

Snow preservation is exquisite here due to the north-facing ridge lines. 55% of Bald Mountain is north-facing. Check out north-facing Seattle Ridge and the Warm Springs sector. Icy conditions can form on Bald Mountain. The east-facing bowls and River Run areas are prone to icy snow. South-tilted regions, which are only 8% of the mountain, can lose snow in the spring.

Snow conditions will be the best from mid-January to mid-March. The excellent snowmaking system also makes up for the moderate snowfall. Sun Valley makes snow for the base at the beginning of the season. To top it off, they also top off their runs mid-season with low-density “gunpowder.” (Get it? Because snow-making machines are called snow guns.)

The apres ski scene is comparable to the impeccable ski destination, Deer Valley. Sun Valley boosts to be more than just a ski destination. It wants everyone to enjoy their holiday. This means bringing it home with food and beverages.

The R. Earl Holding family owns Sun Valley Resort. This privately owned resort has allied with Ikon Pass and The Mountain Collective. For the 2022-2023 season, Sun Valley offers benefits to their pass holders for Ikon and Mountain Collective passes and vice versa.

Previously, Sun Valley had a partnership with Epic Pass. This is no longer in effect. Epic pass holders will NOT be granted access to Sun Valley Resort.


Getting There

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) offers non-stop flights from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Chicago. Airlines servicing this destination are United, Delta, and Alaska. SUN airport operates from November-April.

Once you land at the Friedman (SUN) airport in Hailey, Idaho, it is a short 20-minute drive to Sun Valley. Transportation options include shuttles, limos, taxis, uber, and car rentals.

An uphill splitboarder on untouched powder

Related Reviews


There are several lodging options at Sun Valley. Dollar Mountain hosts luxury resorts and quality condos. Staying near Bald mountain means lodging in the town of Ketchum. There are no slopeside accommodations at Sun Valley. However, most of the lodging has complimentary convenient slopeside shuttles.

Sun Valley discounts lodging and skiing if you stay at Sun Valley Lodge, Sun Valley Inn, or Cottages. Staying at one of these three accommodations will get you a discount on lift tickets. Ikon, Mountain Collective, and Sun Valley pass holder unlock lodging discounts at these accommodations.

If 5-star hotels are the only way Auntie will travel, Sun Valley Lodge has your back. This resort is located near Dollar Mountain. A shuttle runs to/from Dollar and Bald Mountain for guests’ convenience. A horse-drawn sleigh ride is an available add-on here.

At Sun Valley Lodge, there is an ice rink, a 95F heated outdoor pool, a world-class fitness center, and a luxury spa. The food and drink scene pops off with several restaurants and bars, including a pool café. Famous past guests include Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Tom Hanks, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and more.

Limelight Hotel is hip and upmarket in the town of Ketchum, located under Bald Mountain’s shadow. The room service, free ski & airport shuttles, and a rockin’ apres scene are inviting enough. Topped off with a spa and heated pool, this should be your accommodation choice if you want to stay in town.

Best Western Tyrolean Lodge is a relaxing 3-star hotel with reasonable prices. Enjoy complimentary breakfast, a pool, and a ten-minute walk to the River Run chair lift at Bald Mountain. Shuttles are available to the mountain as well.

Condo rentals and Airbnb flood the market of the Sun Valley region. VRBO has a selection of over 1,000 vacation rentals here. Sort through VRBO Sun Valley to find homes with hot tubs, nearby skiing, or great for families.



Sun Valley ski area consists of two mountains, Dollar and Bald Mountains. Dollar Mountain’s village is called Sun Valley. Ketchum is the city that resides at the base of Bald Mountain.

Bald mountain is made up of ski-centered day-time facilities. Dollar Mountain will have fancy resorts with spas and pools. The on-mountain facilities at both hills are high-end, and the staff is helpful and kind.

The region has abundant spas, pools, and training centers; find most of these in town.

Drop by Zenergy Health Club and Spa in Ketchum to revive after your ski day. Exercise mindfulness here with group workout classes, spa appointments, a tennis game, and more. Visit the outdoor heated lap pool with the ski hill looming overhead. Cool place, cool vibe.

The Wood River Community YMCA is available to the public for a quick workout at a reasonable price. There are group classes available, too.


Families and Kids

Sun Valley is an incredible destination for families and kids. Not only are the slopes family-friendly, but plenty of activities and entertainment options are available at this popping vacation spot.

America’s first destination ski resort does require you to book your lodging and ski school spots ahead of time. Reservations on weekends at the fancy apres scene is also recommended.

Known for being the first destination resort, Sun Valley Resort offers its guests live music, holiday celebrations, and parades. Check out their calendar.

A must-do family activity is renting snowshoes from the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center. Once the equipment is acquired, your family can stomp around the surrounding snow-packed trails. Enjoy the views of the mountains.


Visiting Sun Valley’s year round ice-skating rink is a must. The family holiday will be made extra memorable at this rink. The surrounding views and vibrant atmosphere will create an unforgettable feeling.

Sun Valley SnowSports School is ready to give kids and adults the ski and boarding advice they need. The school is mainly located out of Dollar Mountain. Lessons range from first-timers to intermediate. It is possible to have a private lesson on Bald Mountain.

The ski school is proud to give family-private lessons. This is a great opportunity to ski or snowboard together as a family while getting personalized instruction. Elevate your family’s shredding capability by booking a private lesson. The maximum capacity is 5 students.

The SnowSports School allows children 6-17 years old to take a kid’s group lesson. Children 3-5 years can join in the Alpine Au Pair morning or afternoon 2-hour session. Group lessons and Alpine Au Pair are only available at Dollar Mountain. First-timer, beginner, and intermediate group lessons are available.

Sun Valley has a daycare program. Located at Adventure Camp, Sun Valley Village, they care for ages 24 months to 5 years.


For Beginner Riders

Beginner riders, put on the fancy new ski attire you purchased at the resort and awkwardly walk up to your new favorite place; Dollar mountain is a beginner paradise. The easy pitch will be exactly what you are looking for. It’s alright because most other ski&board patrons will just be starting, too.

Dollar Mountain has 56% beginner runs and 31% intermediate runs.

Bald Mountain also is a beginner-friendly mountain. Broadway is a suitable beginner chair lift to practice your turns on. Or head to the Seattle Ridge lift to capture excellent views of the Rockies and nice beginner terrain.

Bald Mountain has 26% beginner runs and 38% intermediate runs.

The ski school is primarily based on Dollar Mountain. Sun Valley SnowSports School is ready to provide exceptional service and knowledgeable lessons. Lessons include group or private, first-timers to intermediates.

Lessons do not include rentals or lift tickets.


For Routine Skiers

Routine skiers love Sun Valley. From the exciting terrain and tasteful resort to the down-to-earth town, Sun Valley offers an exquisite experience on every visit.

The lift system at Bald Mountain spreads out the ski and board patrons all over the mountain, allowing crowds to stay slim. The lift lines remain clear or at least move quickly enough for you not to be concerned. Visitors are here, though, as Sun Valley is a destination ski resort.

Bald Mountain may not have the steepest pitch in North America like Crested Butte, but the consistency of steep slopes are epic. The longest run is 3.4 miles. The long fast groomers will get you buzzing and definitely warm you up for the fun ski bumps (moguls).

A recent addition to Sun Vally Resort is the Sunrise terrain expansion of 380 acres of gladed, backcountry-esque terrain. The terrain is located on Bald Mountain’s southern flank and accessible by Seattle Ridge. Send the steep chutes, dance thru the perfectly spaced trees, and enjoy hidden pow stashes.

Off-piste skiing is seemingly endless at Sun Valley. Bowls, chutes, peaks, and glades await. Sun Valley Guides lead extreme backcountry adventures. Back country is dangerous so follow the “if you don’t know, don’t go” rule. Sawtooth Avalanche Center is a great resource for weather information, training, and accident reports.

The best surrounding off-piste options include the Boulder, Durance Peak, and Galena Summit.

There is after hours uphill / downhill access of Bald Mountain. Uphill travel is permitted from 5am-8am and from 5pm-8pm. Uphill and downhill traffic must follow the designated routes highlighted in yellow.


For Snowboarders

Snowboards shred Bald and Dollar Mountain. Bald Mountain will be your jam if you’re an advanced rider. Dollar Mountain is best for beginner riders.

There are three terrain parks at Bald Mountain.

  1. Broadway Park will be an entry-level family terrain park with rollers and berms.
  2. Saddle Up will be a beginner park with small tabletops, hips, rollers, and jumps.
  3. Showtime Park is for the seasoned park rats; it is a medium park with jumps, jibs, and rails.

Dollar Mountain has several terrain parks; 9 parks reside on this mountain.

  1. Sidecar Park has extra small features with mini jumps and ride-on boxes.
  2. Prospector Park has extra small-sized berms and rollers
  3. Mineshaft will be the next step up, with mini-moguls, small rollers and berms, and a mini pipe
  4. Train Yard is a small park with entry-level tabletops, boxes, and rails.
  5. Lombard Street is a small “family cross” course with berms and rollers.
  6. Upper Trestles is a medium park set up as a flow trail with jumps, berms, and jib features.
  7. Lower Trestles is a medium transition park with bowls, hips, a ¼ pipe, and jib features.
  8. Namedropper has medium jumps, rails, and boxes.
  9. Motherload is the large park with rails and 50ft+ jumps

There is no half-pipe at Sun Valley.

Practice Park SMART while reaching for your goals. Start small, Make a plan, Always look, Respect, Take it easy.


The Apres-Ski

Sun Valley brings it on when it comes to wining & dining. The visitors utter no whines because their bellies are happily filled. The hangry stage won’t last long anywhere in the Sun Valley region, as restaurants and bars are conveniently located everywhere.

Your dining pick in town will be Rickshaw. This quaint establishment serves Southeast Asian street fare. The lively space has a patio and bar. Enjoy.

For dinner reservations, ride up the Roundhouse Express gondola on Bald Mountain to the Roundhouse. This elegant slopeside eatery resides in a timber-and-stone structure built in 1939. Stellar views accompanied by a memorable meal mean you have just eaten at America’s original on-mountain dining experience.

Breakfast eaters will be obsessed with The Kneadery. The brioche cinnamon French Toast is mouth-watering. This cute log cabin restaurant should not be passed up, especially if you want some homestyle cooking.

Entertainment galore is found in this blessed Valley. The Sun Valley Opera House is a special entertainment center that features family-friendly films, theater performances, and concerts. Be sure to tune into their shows here.

For your day off, natural hot springs are ready to be soaked in. The Big Wood River Valley is full of warm natural baths. But no nudity (illegal) or soap (bad for the environment), please.


Shopping Options

Shop til you drop at Sun Valley. Upscale mountain gear, country stores, consignment and thrift stores, boutiques, bookstores, and more.

Thrifting is IN right now, and Ketchum has got you covered. The Gold Mine is a thrift-store shopper’s dream. Find high-fashion trends, practically new skis, and a cool knick-knack here.

For gear shopping, check out Backwoods Mountain Sports shop.


The Bottom Line

This upscale, classy resort is a must visit destination. America’s first destination ski resort, Sun Valley, delivers an incredible vacation experience. The service, apres, skiable terrain, lodging, and activities set Sun Valley apart from other resorts because each aspect is golden.

While visiting here, you will understand why famous celebrities have this destination down on their frequent vacation spots. Regardless of your status, you will feel pampered and welcomed while visiting.

Whether you are a new beginner, a shredding family, a non-skier or somewhere in between, there is something for you at Sun Valley.


Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Satisfying Apres-Ski Scene
  • check-mark
    Easy to fly into
  • check-mark
    Endless pitch and long vertical descent
  • check-mark
    Good snow preservation, quality, and snowmaking
  • check-mark
    Elegant ski area

Things we don't like:

  • check-markRare powder days

Do you want more?

Stay updated with guides, reviews and more about paddling.


Frequently asked questions about Sun Valley Idaho

Where is Sun Valley Ski Resort located?

Sun Valley is in Ketchum, Idaho. The resort’s mountains are in the northern Rockies.

Does Sun Valley allow snowboarders?

Sun Valley welcomes snowboarders at both their mountains, Dollar and Bald.

Where was the first chair lift installed?

Sun Valley installed the world’s first chair lift in 1936.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Go to Frontpage