Head down to the Bald Mountain Recreation area and hop on the Gondola for some amazing sightseeing and some of the best hiking around! Lift service opens up to foot traffic on June 21st.
Head down to the Bald Mountain Recreation area and hop on the Gondola for some amazing sightseeing and some of the best hiking around! Lift service opens up to foot traffic on June 21st.
For National Safety Week, come join us at the Baldy Beacon Park on Christmas Ridge for a free beacon clinic. Wednesday and Friday at 10am.
Coming April 3rd – 5th, the Janss 2014 Pro-Am Classic in Sun Valley. Be sure to catch all the giant slalom racing that will benefit the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.
Toys and Christmas go together like, well like, Santa Claus and reindeer, whip cream and hot cocoa, Sun Valley and holiday cheer. There is nothing more precious than waking Christmas morning to see the wonder in little one’s eyes, and hear the shrieks of joy, as they unwrap packages carefully selected just for them.
In Sun Valley, toys are synonymous with The Toy Store with locations in the Sun Valley Village and downtown Ketchum. Owner Carol Knight, who has been in the business of making children’s wishes come true for 35 years, hand selects the finest toys for her colorful, whimsical shops, sure to delight infants through teenagers.
If you’re planning to be in Sun Valley for Christmas, be sure to leave a few items on your list unchecked because any visit to the Toy Store in the Village inspires. Stocked, floor-to-ceiling with toys to ignite the imagination, encourage creativity and bring hours or enjoyment to children of all ages, you are sure to find something on the shelves that is exactly what you were looking for. And probably a few things you haven’t seen anywhere else.
The Toy Store carries many items that will bring back memories of your Sun Valley Christmas. Among them, are a Pisten Bully grooming truck, just like the ones used to create perfect runs on Baldy. A line by Action Sports brings the terrain park pipe action home. Children can create ramps and pipes and then put snowboarder or skier action figures to work actually riding them. Kids can build these in the snow or sand, making this toy ideal, no matter where you call home.
For little girls with dreams of snow, The Toy Store carries a Calico Critter set featuring a snowboarding bunny, as well as a collectible Madame Alexander doll representing Switzerland, complete with skis, poles and traditional garb.
Carol said she also always recommends the classics and toys that bring families together. To this end, pop in and grab one of hundreds of board games or choose from a whole wall of Legos. Other timeless toys like Carolle baby dolls, colorful tin tops, infant activity mats, crafts and building sets of every ilk will also keep children happy and busy when they are not out enjoying Sun Valley’s amazing recreational opportunities over the holidays. Our family grabbed the game Qwirkle to set out over the holidays because Carol recommended it for all ages and we will be entertaining merrymakers from age 5 to 76.
The Toy Store also offers fun stocking stuffers. Among Carol’s favorites: a melting snowman craft activity and Boogie Boards – LCD tablets that allow children to draw in neon, erase and start again.
A few doors down, the Sun Valley Signatures & Gift shop also offer carefully selected toys, including some that are very specific to snow sports culture. Be sure to pop in to see the huge chair lift toy carrying happy skiers and snowboarders on its miniature chairs and gondolas.
Harken back to the innocence of a simpler childhood, where toys came alive with a child’s imagination, and not every activity required batteries or a screen. I love shopping at The Toy Store for my children. The staff is extremely helpful and knowledgeable, and I always find something unexpected and delightful.
Ho, ho, ho.
Things were jolly, indeed, this weekend in Sun Valley. Families flocked to the Village to enjoy the second annual Winter Wonderland Festival. Children raced around with scavenger hunt cards looking for clues, boarded a colorful train for a ride, carefully (or not) decorated gingerbread cookies with gobs of frosting and whispered in Santa’s ear.
Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded the group gathered outside the Boiler Room and Sun Valley provided delicious food and warm drinks to keep the merriment going. By all accounts, it was a lovely, festive way to spend the afternoon.
Then, on Sunday, the elegant Lodge Dining Room opened for its bountiful champagne brunch. Newly configured this year, the Brunch offered its signature abundance of fresh, delicious food to suit everyone’s palate at numerous stations. From bowls of crab legs and shrimp, to made-to-order omelets and crepes; from Eggs Benedict to salads and fruit, it was hard to maintain discipline at this all-you-can-eat occasion! And that doesn’t even begin to cover the dessert table and the flowing champagne! Live guitar music offered a soothing soundtrack beneath lively conversations. This special meal will be offered on Sundays all season long and is something everyone who visits Sun Valley should experience.
On the mountains, Baldy and Dollar hosted happy skiers and boarders all weekend long. Dollar is now open daily for the season, providing top-to-bottom runs as well as many fun and challenging terrain features. On Baldy, runs on Seattle Ridge also opened on Saturday. Skiing and boarding are now available on all over the vast mountain, offering great possibilities for a full day on the snow. Roundhouse Restaurant, Seattle Ridge Lodge, Warm Springs Lodge, River Run Lodge and Lookout are all providing tasty treats of all varieties to keep your energy high for just one more run.
But the fun is only beginning. A special breakfast with Santa takes place on December 21 and 22 at the Lodge Dining Room. Also on the 21st, be sure to come to the Sun Valley Village at 5 p.m. for the Tree Lighting Ceremony outside the Inn. Carolers, Santa and ice carving demonstrations will ring in the season.
On December 22, be sure not to miss the sixth annual Classic Christmas Concert at the Sun Valley Opera House. The tradition is enriched this year with several popular local acts including the Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus and special guest Joe Fos. Carolers and dancers from the Footlight Dance Centre will also perform. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $20 at the Sun Valley Recreation Center or online.
Please join us to celebrate the happiest of holidays!
We have not yet officially reached the start of the 12 days of Christmas, but from my perspective, Sun Valley’s alpine skiers and sliders have already been given gifts aplenty. With apologies to the original scribe of the beloved holiday classic, my 12 Days of Christmas might go, thus far, something like this (feel free to hum along):
On the first day of Christmas, Mother Nature gave to me: a snow-covered evergreen tree.
On the second day of Christmas, Mother Nature gave to me: two well-tuned skis and a snow-covered evergreen tree.
On the third day of Christmas Mother Nature gave to me: three groomed steeps, two well-tuned skis and a snow-covered evergreen tree.
On the fourth day of Christmas Mother Nature gave to me: four days of snowfall, three groomed steeps, two well-tuned skis and a snow-covered evergreen tree.
On the fifth day of Christmas Mother Nature gave to me: five pow-der runs! four days of snowfall, three groomed steeps, two well-tuned skis and a snow-covered evergreen tree.
I will stop there, because the prevailing theme quickly runs to overkill, but in Sun Valley, in December, the skiing is stunningly good. This week, after a massive storm came through and dumped something like three feet of white, fluffy powder on the top of Baldy, I have skied runs that are normally reserved for much, much later in the season. I dropped down into Central Park off of College and splashed in the still fresh snow, three days after the big storm. The trail that sounds like “Stilhung” but is spelled in a way I can’t begin to fathom, beckoned alluringly from the top of International, offering still untouched powder past my knees. I tackled Rock Garden, Upper Holiday and Upper River Run, nearly three weeks BEFORE Christmas. (For our guests, all these runs involve some combination of steep pitches, trees, bumps or powder and are not always in great shape this early in the year).
Sun Valley Ski Patrol has been aggressive in opening terrain and on Thursday … wait for it … they dropped the rope on some of Baldy’s awesome bowls. Yes, people were skiing and riding the bowls on December 6, and making laps on the Mayday lift. For lack of a better word – epic!
Lift talk is, without fail, enthusiastic and filled with gratitude. On a weekday morning, those of us lucky enough to work the night shift or have the day off, giddily compare notes, conditions and look almost guilty at our good fortune. Our only complaint? Tired legs from all this early-season powder. Yes, it’s hard to be us.
The mountain’s base is in fantastic shape for the coming season and it promises be a very white and very jolly holiday in Sun Valley. In fact, I don’t think there is better skiing anywhere in the country right now. It’s that good.
I will take this recent snowfall over drummers drumming, maids a’ leaping, swans a’ swimming –even golden rings. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here, and that looks pretty darn amazing — especially when you’re looking down at it from 9000 feet.
A new local marvels at his first end of the season party at Sun Valley
By Alec Barfield
I notice the costumes first. (Man, people in this town love to dress up.) Some are better than others, but everyone tries … it is the last day on Baldy after all. At one end of the spectrum are the Halloween get ups. A batch of the good ones: a human parrot and a mystery bird, Pooh Bear and Eyeore, a woman attached to an inflatable horse and some businessmen. Then there are the one-pieces, those throwback neon wonders that we all should own–if not strictly to use on the ski season’s last hurrah. Finally, a quirky mess of accessories paints the rest of the crowd. Put on a wig and sunglasses and you’ve got a party. Put on some denim jorts (jean shorts), which just skied past me, and you’ve got an even bigger party. Today, all functionality is unquestionably displaced by the best on-mountain party of the year.
Skiing is still the priority, but not necessarily the ability to do it well. In terms of attire, the louder the better. In terms of skiing, don’t crash too hard.
The SunFest party (Sun Valley’s official tagging of Sunday’s ultimately unaccountable nonsense) is the skier’s warble of skiing and drinking, which every so often gets put on repeat. Today that winning combination won’t stop until the lifts shut down. To be clear, drinking and skiing has its risks. But that’s another conversation and for this day, it seems to be another day’s worry. It’s the last day of the year, the weather is sunny and warm, the snow is nice enough to handle tiny ski blades and decades-old snowboards; no one seems to be thinking twice about the beer. Or the mimosas.
Baldy’s last day witnesses the entire cross section of pass-holders. Regardless of whether you lumber up the mountain less than five days a year or crunch out more than 100, the season’s final opportunity is always a ski.
This was a town-wide celebration. One that was fatefully sunny, just warm enough to ski in almost anything. There were beers and birds, and some bad skiing. It happens once a year and it’s viscerally awesome. It is a day to celebrate the season. And celebrate we did. As my grandpa would say, “You done good, Sun Valley!”
Sun Valley celebrates safety!
By Mike McKenna
Adhering to the general philosophy that it’s a lot more fun to play it safe and be smart than it is to wind up in the Emergency Room, each winter the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) celebrates "Ski Safety Week."
Sun Valley is once again taking part in the national party to promote safe and responsible skiing and boarding. And the great news–besides the fact that ski patrollers are giving out coupons for free cocoa!–is that these annual reminders are working.
According to Mike Lloyd, Sun Valley’s Ski Patrol Director, Baldy is one of the safest ski areas in the country, boasting a mere 1.7% accident rate (per thousand skiers); almost a full point below the national average.
"We definitely see a positive impact from this program," Lloyd says.
To help keep Baldy and Dollar Mountains safe, fun places to shred, here are some of the highlights from this year’s National Ski Safety Week (January 14-22).
Know the Code!
It’s the responsibility of every skier and snowboarder to know and adhere to the Responsibility Code. It’s what you agree to when you buy a ski pass at just about every resort on the globe. In case you need a refresher, or a member of the Ski Patrol asks you (every day this week they’re giving out 100 coupons for free hot cocoa to kids who know the Code), here’s a refresher:
1. Always stay in control.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
7. Know how to use the lifts safely.
Lids on Kids
Since wearing a "Brain Bucket" is no-brainer when you’re skiing or snowboarding, Sun Valley is supporting the Lids of Kids. The program reminds shredders of a few basic guidelines:
-Wearing a helmet when participating in snow sports is a smart idea. Besides the overwhelming safety benefits of wearing a helmet, they tend to be warmer than simply wearing a hat.
-One size does not fit all. Make sure to follow some fitting guidelines before hitting the hill in headgear.
-Heads Up, Set an Example: Skiing and riding in a responsible and safe manner isn’t just important for your own sake. It’s sets a good example for kids of all ages (and sometimes it’s the adults who need to be reminded how to follow the Responsibility Code the most).
Besides plastering both Baldy and Dollar Mountains with posters promoting the Responsibility Code, Sun Valley is also holding a Kid’s Poster Contest. Entries can be picked up at Dollar Mountains’ Children’s Center. Good luck and be safe!
Sun Valley Resort consists of three bases:(1) River Run Plaza, (2) Warm Springs at Baldy and (3) Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.
Each has its advantages, depending on personal preference (and mountain usage), and folks are split over where they like to begin and end the day. Proximity to one or the other, afternoon cravings for a hot dog at Irving’s (Warm Springs only) and one’s need for heavy-duty wagons to haul gear (River Run only) are just a few of the deciding factors to consider. But whichever base wins your profound yet seasonal loyalty, you must first make another choice: how to get there.
‘Tis the season of trains, planes and automobiles … and buses. Of course cars are welcome; there are well-marked and amply-spaced parking lots at both bases. Yet don’t deny Wood River’s public transit system, the ubiquitous Mountain Rides program, the opportunity to change your mind and routine. In terms of mountain access, there’s no better way to make your morning pilgrimage to the mountain than via one of Ketchum’s many buses.
Why Mountain Rides
Funding mass transportation is a no-brainer from the city’s perspective. Buses drive commerce by shuttling tourists and locals. Buses reduce traffic and congestion and, ultimately, buses help control local pollution levels. Financially and logistically it makes sense that the communities of the Wood River Valley committed significant resources to creating a free and easy-to-use transit system. The considerable environmental benefits of mass transit have only added value.
According to Treehugger.com, forty five million barrels of oil are saved each year from people taking public transportation, which amounts to one quarter of the energy needed to power American homes annually. Moreover if just 1 in 5 Americans used public transportation daily, this nation would see a 20% savings in carbon monoxide emissions. I could go on, but the environmental rewards of riding the bus are well-documented and the point is clear: The system merely requires the engagement of thoughtful citizens to keep the car in the garage.
Fortunately this argument doesn’t need to made often in Sun Valley, where open minds and a love of nature have always made public transit, once K.A.R.T. now Mountain Rides, a highly popular venture. Still what all types of riders quickly learn is that getting driven around and dropped off has obvious practical advantages. Some of my top favorites:
When all is said and done, why not take the bus?!
Know Your Bus Driver (and the Rules & Etiquette)
Like the post office, the Mountain Rides buses are social. Riders share stops and routes, and bus drivers intentionally keep to the same schedules week after week.
In other words, making friends is common. My usual drivers are To and Rod (Rod being what I’d call my “regular”). Just like a lot of us: Rod wants to ski everyday–and so he works accordingly. He’s been driving the bus for years because it makes doing what he loves simpler.
I live in Warm Springs and need to get downtown. My options are the Blue and Bronze Routes. For no good reason I always take Blue, which departs from the base lodge (the Irving’s stop) on the hour and half past the hour. I show up on the hour, grab a hot dog from Irving’s Red Hots and hop aboard. Classical music is playing and my seat is warm. Four stops and ten minutes later, I finish my meal and say good bye. Free and easy.
In the course of my ride, I learn more about life than buses. And I realize that not many cities have drivers like ours … Friends driving friends sounds too good to be true–yet, in my experience, the Mountain Rides drivers have never been anything but friendly, funny and informative.
To help keep it that way, I’ve included a few basic rules of bus etiquette that every small-town rider should follow:
Getting to the Mountain (Schedules & Times)
Although Mountain Rides buses operate year-round, certain routes are seasonal, or "winter only." With the onslaught of winter tourism, it’s only natural that the system expand to accommodate increased traffic. Below is an overview of every route, year-round and seasonal (mountain access points are in bold). Visit the website for more time tables and maps.
NOTE: Be sure to follow the link to check current schedule updates and times, as well as to view maps and transit alerts–including up-to-date information on service adjustments due to traffic, special events or route changes.
How to stay sane when skiing with everyone’s aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends and grandparents.
This is the time of the year when everyone’s favorite mountain, Baldy, gets packed! Lines are long, slopes are filled, it is hard to find a seat on the deck at Warm Springs Lodge and, suddenly, your friends’ red and blue jackets start looking just like everyone else’s red and blue jackets.
So just how are you supposed to find your friends in a sea of skiers, snowboarders, revelers, families, ski lessons and groups of ski-teamers? Not everyone has bright colored jackets like me (I swear, my favorite pink and green jacket can be spotted on Baldy miles away!), no one really uses walkie-talkies anyone (though if you did, we think it’s awesome!), and sometimes it is just too cold to take your gloves off and dig through your pockets for your cell phone.
So we have complied a few tips on just how to stay together on the mountain, the best places to meet on the mountain, and a few safety tips for skiing or boarding in groups.
1. Plan ahead. Knowing when and where you are going to meet your group is the first step towards success. Be specific in your planning. Instead of saying, "Meet you at the top around eleven," try something more specific (and less mainstream) like: "Meet you at the top of Seattle Ridge at 11:15."
2. Watch the clock. There are several clocks strategically placed in every lift line. Watch for the big blue signs with maps on them, the clocks are on there too. There are also clocks at the top of the mountain and the top of Seattle Ridge. Being on time will help your group meet up easier!
3. Stand BELOW the slow sign. If you and your fam gets split up on a run, or if you decide to meet halfway down, the best place to wait for the slower part of the crew is right BELOW one of the big, orange slow signs. Most skiers and riders work to avoid those signs anyway, so you will be out of their way and it also provides you a little protection, just in case.
4. Move away from the lift! If you are meeting friends at the top of the mountain, whatever you do, DO NOT stand right where you got off. Many other skiers and riders will be getting off the lift before your friends get there, and if you are standing right in the way, it is a recipe for a disaster (or at least one or two pile-ups).
5. The best place to meet: Warm Springs Side: The Warm Springs Bridge (located right at the end of the Challenger lift line, just past Warm Springs Lodge). An old stand-by for groups of skiers and riders to meet up, the Warm Springs Bridge is almost a tradition of its own. Locals and tourists alike can be heard on a Friday night at Grumpy’s saying"Meet you on the Bridge at nine tomorrow." Just be sure not to confuse it with the River Run Bridge!
6. The best place to meet: River Run Side: The fire pit. River Run Lodge is huge and there are plenty of places to meet your group from the bear statue to the fireplace inside to the first ski rack, but our favorite place to meet, and warm up some chilly fingers, is the fire pit. Located right near the bottom of the gondola, you are sure not to miss this one and you can warm up and meet new friends while you wait.
7. If Meeting up enroute, stand BELOW the slow sign. If you and your fam (or larger group) gets split up on a run, or if you decide to meet halfway down, the best place to wait for the slower part of the crew is right BELOW one of the big orange slow signs. Most skiers and riders work to avoid those signs anyway, so you will be out of their way and it also provides you a little protection, just in case.
8. Move to the side of the slope! There are some long runs and some long cat tracks on Baldy, so if you and your crew get split up on Lower College or at the end of Hershey Highway and you are going to wait for them to catch up, be sure to move to the side of the run. Standing in the middle of any run can be dangerous for you and other skiers!
9. The best place to meet: Seattle Ridge. If your 13 year-old cousin doesn’t want to watch the Broncos game with you inside the Seattle Ridge Lodge while you wait for the rest of the family, the best place to meet on Seattle Ridge is outside the Lodge on the Lower Level. This not only keeps you out of the way of the lift and other skiers, but it provides easy access to the bathrooms and water, without going up or down any stairs!
10. The best place to meet: Top of the mountain. Lots of groups get together at the top and with the Lookout Lodge, three lifts and one cat track all converging in one area, it can get pretty hectic. Tell your friends to meet you by the big blue sign (the one with a map and a clock), or even a little lower, down by the Ski Patrol Shack. But try to stay out of the way of the snowboarder’s Strap-Up area.
11. Carry a map! Baldy can seem big and confusing, especially to a first-time visitor. So be sure to carry a mountain map with you at all times, that way if your group gets separated, at least you can figure out where you are and where you want to be! Also, the Sun Valley guest service folks (the friendly skiers and boarders in bright yellow jackets) are incredibly helpful; so don’t be afraid to ask. There are also some pretty sweet Smartphone apps with resort maps that can come in pretty handy!
Skiing and boarding is all about fun. Enjoying bluebird skis and hopefully some fresh powder with your family and friends. So be patient and kind to your fellow Baldy-lovers! A little karma goes a long way!