Baldy is showing off its summer splendor with amazing views and fields of wildflowers
What better way to celebrate the longest day of the year and the official start to summer than by gaining some of the perspective that comes only with being on top of a big mountain!
On Saturday, the Gondola and Christmas Lift on Bald Mountain kicked into gear, providing uphill and downhill access for foot traffic of all varieties to the tip top of the mountain. And the trails were buzzing. Hikers and sightseers alike climbed up and rode down, rode up and hiked down, or just enjoyed the round-trip ride to and from the River Run side of the mountain.
Step one: let the helpful folks at River Run get you a lift pass and recommend some appropriate adventures for your group
Step two: check in and hop on a comfortable Gondola car and enjoy the ride!
The historic Roundhouse Restaurant located at the top of the Gondola and about two-thirds up the mountain welcomed everyone to lunch with the best views around. The deck and rustic interior of the one-of-a-kind eatery is open daily, serving soups, salads, sandwiches and a children’s menu. Some highlights include the ‘7000’ Burger, an Austrian Chicken Salad sandwich, a fabulously fresh Mediterranean Chop Salad and locally-sourced Gazpacho. There is no better reward for a vigorous hike, or no better way to celebrate the beginning of a memorable vacation, than by dining at Roundhouse. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with beer and wine available daily. For a special cocktail hour, a full bar is offered on weekends (Friday to Sunday). Seating is first come, first served.
On July 1, Baldy opens to mountain bikers, again providing lift service both up and down the mountain depending on the rider’s proclivities. Special cars on the Gondola and on the Christmas Lift can accommodate bikes and many trails, appropriate to most levels, wend around the mountain. The first flow trail is set to open on July 1, offering a whole new biking experience on Baldy.
Enjoy lunch with an incredible view at the historic Roundhouse Restaurant
And if a trip up Baldy whets your appetite for snowy trails, today is the day to buy your winter Sun Valley passes. On sale now, a variety of passes are offered at the best prices of the season. Check out all the different possibilities HERE.
If being on the mountain is turning your thoughts to winter, now is the right time to buy your winter pass
Seeing the Wood River Valley from atop Baldy is something everyone visiting Sun Valley must do. The 360-degree panorama is truly jaw dropping and right now, the wildflowers are adding fields of color and fragrance to the experience. Beautiful!
Summer trails on Baldy offer limitless fun. Get out there and get after it!
Hiking on Baldy is fun for the whole family. Bring water, wear good shoes and dress in layers!
Roundhouse Restaurant, nestled beneath Rock Garden run (or just off Roundhouse Lane if you prefer a gentler entry) about two-thirds of the way up Bald Mountain, is one of the gems that makes Sun Valley, Sun Valley. Rustic, charming and traditional, but with a modern flair, this one-of-a-kind restaurant features roaring fires, a cozy atmosphere and drop-dead views of Ketchum, the Pioneer Mountains and beyond.
Roundhouse welcomes you to lunch beginning December 12
Roundhouse will open for the season on December 12, serving lunch seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m (starting December 19th). There is also still space available for a special dinner on Christmas Day. Reservations are required for dinner and are accepted for lunch. Expect starched white linens and crystal at both seatings to compliment a delicious menu that relies on locally-sourced, seasonal fare. But no worries, this is still a ski lodge. Parkas and ski boots are de rigueur at lunchtime and the atmosphere is an only-in-Sun Valley mix of upscale and casual.
Charming and cozy -- a meal at Roundhouse is sure to be memorable
For the ultimate in après ski, be sure to visit Averell’s Bar on the lower level of Roundhouse. Featuring huge picture windows overlooking Roundhouse Slope and downtown Ketchum, there is no more beautiful way to end a day on the snow. But Averell’s is more than a glass of wine or a hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. Every day, revelers are invited to enjoy Roundhouse’s famous fondue, accompanied with baguettes, red potatoes and granny smith apples. Additional “add-ons” are available for dunking in the sublime fondue, including spicy sausage, grilled steak, shrimp, wild mushrooms and roasted winter vegetables. Handmade Bavarian pretzels served with spicy mustard, cheddar spread, honey mustard, mesquite chipotle barbecue, olive cream cheese and jalapeno beer cheese are the perfect reward for completing all that vertical on skis or a board. The menu is designed for sharing, so bring your friends and indulge! The gondola will whisk you – and your gear — back to River Run after après ski ends.
Your chariot awaits to or from Roundhouse
Evening meals are served both in the main dining room and Averell’s. Be sure to come a bit earlier than your reservation to enjoy a cocktail at the inviting upstairs bar. And for dinner at Roundhouse, getting there is often half the fun! A ride on the Roundhouse gondola on a winter’s evening can mean a bright moonlit night, or an intimate cocoon of snow on the gondola’s windows. Be sure to wear warm boots, gloves, a hat and coat as the gondola isn’t heated during the approximately 15-minute ride. It is perfectly acceptable to change into party shoes once you reach Roundhouse, too!
Dinner at Roundhouse in winter is peaceful, magical, festive and delicious
Still need a reason to stop by? This season, Roundhouse is hand-crafting signature cocktails, as well as offering an extensive wine list and many boutique brews. New cocktails, appropriately named after ski runs, include: the Graduate (Woodford Reserve Bourbon, bing cherries, diced apples, cinnamon, orange bitters, simple syrup), the International (Hendrick’s Gin, Fever-Free Mediterranean Tonic) or the Sunny Side Organic Lemondrop (Organic Square One Vodka, organic lemon juice, organic agave nectar, organic sugar). Also special for the holidays is a Huckleberry-Pomegranate Cosmo (Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, Patron Citronage, huckleberry puree, organic Agave nectar). Cheers!
For dinner reservations, please call 208-622-2012 or book online through Open Table.
A meal, or drink, just tastes better at 7,700 feet, whether you are wearing your ski boots or high heels. There is no better way to toast the season than from a cozy table at Roundhouse!
Start your own holiday tradition at Roundhouse this season!
We all know that Bald Mountain is one big playground and next summer, expect to see new, updated, state-of-the-art places to play.
New mountain bike flow trails on Baldy will make the downhill even more fun
Picture this: It’s a spectacular Sun Valley summer day. You load your mountain bike onto the gondola at the base of River Run and hop on the next car, enjoying the scenic ride up the hill. At the summit, you strap on your helmet, snug up your sunglasses, mount your saddle and prepare to go with the flow.
In the works on Baldy, are nine new “flow” mountain bike trails that will, in the next five to six years, provide nearly 20 miles of new buttery single track that promise to get riders into a groove unlike any they have ever experienced. The first is expected to debut early summer 2014.
Construction is well underway on the first flow trail on Baldy
Flow trails have become very popular in recent years, but have historically been hard to access for recreational bikers. Not anymore. According to Sun Valley’s Julian Tyo, an avid and accomplished mountain biker who is involved in the concept, design and implementation of these trails, Baldy’s new terrain developments are a game changer. Tyo explained, “flow trails optimize the mountain bike experience for riders of all ability levels,” and ours will be accessible by chairlift.
The concept sounds tantalizing — downhill trails that have an intrinsic, smooth rhythm, a “terrain-induced roller coaster experience,” according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). Pedaling and braking are kept to a minimum on flow trails. Instead, features including banked turns, rolling terrain, jumps and consistent and predictable surfaces are what transport the rider through wooded glades or under bluebird skies.
Sun Valley is already singletrack Nirvana and is about to get even better
Like a skier or snowboarder, the mountain biker carves back and forth, flowing down the mountain without worry of abrupt corners, obstacles or drop offs. Riders can revel in this experience without concern to their fitness level or skill set. There are no logs to jump or rocks to navigate on the flow trails being built.
Tyo concurs that this is what people can expect on Baldy. “We envision riders of all ability levels using the new flow trails,” he explained. “The design of these trails is for riders of different ability levels to have a variety of experiences on the same trail. Our goal is to provide trails that keep all riders wanting to come back for more.”
A comparison to winter sports might be the popular Family Cross and Skier Cross courses offered on Dollar Mountain in the snow season.
On flow tracks, the terrain and gravity do the work. You have the fun. This one will be ready for action for summer 2014.
The first phase of construction on Baldy’s flow trails is underway, which will result in the scheduled opening of the first at the beginning of summer 2014. Phase one is a “four-mile, green rated flow trail (with ratings similar to winter ski trail ratings) on Forest Service land from the top of the mountain to Roundhouse,” Tyo said.
The new trails are user-specific and unidirectional, available only for downhill mountain bike traffic. In addition to the flow trails, two new hiking and uphill biking only trails will be part of this upgrade. The design maintains existing use patterns on the hill.
How vital is this project to enthusiasts who visit or live in the area? Very! “This project is important to the Resort to increase summer offerings on Bald Mountain consistent with the goal of year-round recreation on public lands,” Tyo enthused. “The addition of these trails completes the picture of Sun Valley and the Wood River Valley as the ultimate riding destination, with nearly 450 miles of singletrack, two pump tracks and now a contemporary lift-accessed bike park. Our goal is create a ‘ski season for the summertime’ on Bald Mountain.”
Lift accessed downhill mountain biking is a scenic experience in Sun Valley
Next May, when the snow has melted, your skis are tucked away for the season but it isn’t quite nice enough yet to get on the trails, just remember, soon, very soon, you will be able to get your groove on.
For Tyo, “adding new downhill trails on Baldy has always been a dream.” A dream, that is about to become reality.
Blue skies and picture perfect weather welcomed diners to lunch at Roundhouse Restaurant Thursday
The weather Thursday was bluebird skies, scattered white fluffy clouds, bright sunshine and no smoke: the perfect day to kick off Labor Day weekend by hopping on the River Run gondola to ascend to a barbecue lunch with the best view in town. Sailing over the single track mountain bike trails and ski runs, the ride on the gondola is beyond scenic. As you soar above the tree line, the majestic Pioneer Mountains provide a sublime vista to the east, while the cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley take form in miniature below.
But getting there is only half the fun when you decide to have lunch at the historic Roundhouse restaurant. Perched at 7,700-feet above Ketchum, Roundhouse says Sun Valley like nothing else. With its rustic interior, vast decks and unparalleled views, a meal there shouldn’t be missed.
The view is unbeatable from the Roundhouse deck -- and the barbecue lunch lives up to its surroundings
Roundhouse just reopened for the rest of the summer season and will serve a tasty, varied barbecue menu through September 8. Choose from traditional beef burgers or veer into the more esoteric: buffalo burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers (my choice – delicious!), bratwursts and entrée salads. Sides include homemade coleslaw, potato salad, fruit salad or chips. Enjoy a beer, wine, cocktail or soft drink with your sophisticated picnic on the deck.
From Friday to Monday, the Lookout Restaurant atop Baldy will also offer its wildly popular taco bar at lunch to those enjoying a hike, bike ride or sightseeing trip on the mountain. Lift service to Lookout begins where the gondola lets off to get riders to the tip top of the hill.
A gondola ride up to the historic Roundhouse for lunch is a must-do Sun Valley activity
Lunch with a view is just one of many must-do activities to put on your Labor Day weekend “to-do” list. One of the busiest holidays of the year in Sun Valley, there are parades to delight; antiques and art to browse and buy; cars to covet; pancakes of which to partake.
The annual multi-day celebration that is Wagon Days is jam-packed. Starting Friday, Arts, Crafts and Antiques Fairs can be found up and down the Valley. From 4 – 7 p.m. that day, cowboy poets, old-time fiddling, western music and more will delight at the Ore Museum in Ketchum with concerts from Matt Renner and the band Slow Children Playing to follow.Also Friday night, local art galleries will open their doors and welcome lookers and buyers from 5 – 8 p.m.
The "Big Hitch," made up of six enormous ore wagons, is a sight to behold as the grand finale of Saturday's parade
Saturday is the big show with many events leading up to Wagon Days‘ famous Big Hitch Parade. Starting at 8 a.m., bring the entire family to Ketchum for an old-fashioned, all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with all proceeds benefiting local youth groups. The kids can work off that carb-fueled energy at a children’s carnival featuring mini train rides, astro jumps, a climbing wall, bungee run and more.
At 1 p.m. the Big Hitch Parade rolls down Sun Valley Road. This, the largest non-motorized parade in the Northwest, features museum quality buggies, carriages, carts, stagecoaches and wagons that illustrate and honor the tenacity of the area’s early settlers. Six gigantic Lewis Ore Wagons, the Big Hitch, pulled by a 20-mule jerkline, offer the eye popping grand finale. Music and festivity in Ketchum extend well into the night following the parade.
The Great Wagon Days Duck Race also follows at Rotary Park. A favorite of children of all ages, this event launches thousands of plastic ducks into to Big Wood River to ‘race,’ all while benefiting local non-profits.
Sun Valley's Silver Car Auction is eye candy for anyone who loves fabulous four-wheelers
In Sun Valley, on both Saturday and Sunday, be sure to come by the Silver Car Auction beginning at 9 a.m. 250 collector car owners and dealers display and auction off unique and beautiful cars until 8 p.m. There is eye candy for everyone from admirers of classic cars to sports cars and is a must-see for aficionados of every persuasion.
While in Sun Valley, be sure to stop into the Konditorei or Gretchen’s for a delicious breakfast or lunch, or grab gourmet sandwiches to go at the Short Line Deli followed by a special ice cream treat at a la mode. Village restaurants will be serving dinner over the weekend, too – the perfect way to unwind and enjoy the best in local flavors and handcrafted recipes after a very busy day.
The Great Wagon Days Duck Race is a spectacle and fun for children of all ages!
We can’t wait to see everyone out in Sun Valley and Ketchum enjoying glorious weather (the forecast looks great), a fantastic array of events and fun for everyone. We are all so grateful that Wagon Days is on and better than ever and can’t wait to share this spectacular weekend, as well as our own very special, very active version of normal, with our guests. It’s going to be a great Labor Day weekend!
To borrow shamelessly from the incomparable Johnny Nash, Jimmy Nash and others, “It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day…”
The simple sign at the base of River Run said it all Sunday night
The intermittent heavy rain that fell this weekend offered more than a hint of the poetic following the raging wildfires that threatened the Wood River Valley just a week ago. As the moisture swept through in waves during Saturday night’s Sun Valley On Ice show that benefited the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and again on Sunday, during a huge picnic and concert at River Run honoring the 2,000-plus heroes who fought the behemoth Beaver Creek Fire, there was no question there was change in the air. With her thunderous announcements in the evening sky, Mother Nature proclaimed that Sun Valley had turned a corner – that it’s time, again, to look ahead.
Visitors and locals mingled with fire professionals at the base of River Run and looked forward to enjoying the rest of the summer
Sunday evening’s party at the base of Baldy’s River Run drew firefighters from all over the state and country who were part of the Great Basin National Incident Management Team #1. It also drew our local heroes from the Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Wood River Fire Departments. To say thank you, Sun Valley distributed 565 tickets to firefighters and their families, providing a full western barbecue and beverages, all for free.
A little rain couldn't keep the crowd away from the party at River Run
In the light drizzle, the firefighters, still in uniform, looked relaxed and happy, enjoying live music from local bands Up a Creek and Old Death Whisper. They shook hands with appreciative locals and visitors alike and by all accounts, greatly enjoyed the party thrown in their honor.
“We thought we’d have the picnic to bring the entire community together to thank the firefighters,” said Jack Sibbach, Head of Sun Valley Marketing. “This fire affected the entire Wood River Valley and this was a great opportunity for everyone to gather in one place and say thank you. It’s also the time for all of us to now look forward to the rest of the summer and the fall.”
At the storied Sun Valley ice show Saturday night, the fire’s Incident Commander Beth Lund also expressed her appreciation for the huge turnout, the support for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and for the Valley that so clearly valued her team’s efforts. She reiterated how dangerous a job it is to fight these fires and how organizations like the Wildland Firefighter Foundation provide critical help to families who suffer a loss or an injury amid the unpredictable flames.
Admission to Saturday's Sun Valley On Ice was free, but donations were accepted on behalf of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation
The cast of Sun Valley On Ice then emerged under the lights wearing fire hats and skated from the heart, honoring the events of the past weeks. The show was provided free to guests with a suggested donation to the firefighters.
Sun Valley truly has turned a corner; skies are clear, the sun is shining. Those short-lived evening rain showers washed away any remaining ash and soot and changed the entire feeling up and down the Wood River Valley.
Starting Wednesday, jump on the gondola and head up to Roundhouse for lunch with a pretty spectacular view
Now it’s time to end the summer on a high note. Bald Mountain reopens to foot, bike and gondola traffic on Wednesday, August 28. The gondola will run daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and the deck at Roundhouse Restaurant will offer a daily barbecue. There is no more scenic place to eat. Beginning Friday, the famous taco bar at Lookout also makes and end-of-summer, back-by-popular demand appearance.
Sun Valley has extended its sale on winter passes through September 15. Don’t miss this opportunity to save up to $350 on what promises to be an amazing snow season. This year, there are seven passes from which to choose, including a new Young Adult Pass, as well as a new installment payment plan for select products. Come by the River Run Ticketing Office, buy a $15 ticket for the gondola and check out what’s new for the coming season!While you’re at River Run Plaza, be sure to also pop into Brass Ranch and check out the sale in progress.
The centerpiece of the Big Hitch Wagon Days Parade is something you have to see to believe
For Labor Day weekend, it’s on! Festivities begin in earnest on Friday and run all the way through the Monday holiday. Highlights include: an antique car show and auction, Rebecca Rusch’s Private Idaho bike tour, pancake breakfasts in Ketchum, the final ice show of the season featuring crowd favorite Johnny Weir, rodeos, antique and art shows, an Art Gallery walk, a western shoot-out, and of course, the Big Hitch Parade. Be sure to be in Sun Valley during one of the best Labor Day celebrations in the nation.
And it’s not over after Labor Day! September in Sun Valley is a spectacular month during which to golf,hike, bike,fly fish … you name it. This year, it is also a spectacular month for music. Tickets are on sale now for Reckless Kelly, playing September 6 at the Sun Valley Pavilion and Clint Black who will entertain under the sail on September 12.
Again, we thank the amazing firefighters for giving us the gift of enjoying this upcoming Labor Day celebration and the renewed opportunity to truly appreciate the beauty and splendor of our one-of-a-kind valley.
This is the face of Sun Valley Ski Patrol you probably recognize — one of uniformed, highly capable men and women keeping you safe on Baldy and Dollar. Ski Patrol boasts a team of more than 50, including firefighters and paramedics, explosives experts, mountaineers and some of the fittest, most determined, most amazing skiers on the map. I love seeing Ski Patrol on the hill, which I do numerous times each day I am up there. Just a glimpse of their jackets makes me feel safe and cared for.
Here is another face of Sun Valley Ski Patrol, one that makes me feel safer yet. Yesterday, under a typical Idaho bluebird sky, three weeks before the slopes officially open to the public, members of Ski Patrol were preparing for any and every inevitability. Like the safety announcement made before a plane taxis down the runway, Ski Patrol has to consider many “in the unlikely events,” including gondola evacuation.
The methodology? Climb a tower carrying a 10-pound titanium “cable glider.” Position the wheels of said cable glider onto the high wire. Clip in and attach yourself in about 20 different ways. Do not tangle your ropes. Swing your body onto a small bike seat. Release the brake and “ride” down the cable to the first gondola car. Unhook. Evacuate occupants. Repeat.
When Mike Lloyd and Mike Davis of Ski Patrol explain the process, they make it sound quite matter-of-fact. From below the tower, looking up to the platform dozens of feet overhead, surrounded by the stunning panorama of mountains, to me, it looks intimidating at best. But that’s why they are the pros.
The pros featured in these photos are ‘Whiz’ McNeal and Troy Quesnel, who both look forward to this training. “The Patrol does this drill a few times each year and they like to get as many ‘touches’ on the equipment as possible,” said Lloyd. “Everyone gets to practice riding, belaying, climbing, opening the doors. It’s a great time to get hands on and make sure it becomes second nature.”
Rest assured, all these skills do become second nature to Ski Patrol. The gondola training exercise is only one of many that go on year-round. Ski Patrol’s motto is “Haulin’ the Fallin’ since 1936.” I guess a list of all the other things they do doesn’t rhyme.
When you see a Patrol member on the slopes, be sure to give him or her a big smile. They are there for you and are, collectively, some of the nicest people in Sun Valley.
And they know how to evacuate you from a gondola – bonus!
Baby Sun, enjoying frolicking in front of the Roundhouse, is definitely in the Waiting For Winter To End camp. Which one are you?
Sun Valley: Come for the winter, stay for the summer. This well-known valley phrase neatly sums up the schizophrenic nature of existence in a resort town. Life in Sun Valley has always been separated into two distinct seasons: winter and not-winter, and the people who live here fall into one of two camps: “Waiting for Winter” or “Waiting for Winter to End.”
Baby Sun marvels at the approaching mountain
I’m in the latter camp. I love summer in Sun Valley, and the fact that it comes after 7 to 8 months of a frigid, snowy landscape makes it all the better in my book. The only downside is there just isn’t enough time to do everything a Sun Valley summer has to offer before that cold white stuff rolls back in.
Despite the vast differences between our two seasons, there is one thing they have in common. Neither is officially here until the Gondola starts to climb Bald Mountain.
Last Friday marked the official start of the Sun Valley summer, and Mr. Sun and I took the little tykes for their first ride on the Gondola. (I must admit shamefacedly that this was my first ride on the Gondola too – if you want to know why I’ve been so bad, ask me in the comments section below!).
Little Sun was thrilled to get in “the big elevator to the sky” but was disappointed to learn that skiing was not to be a part of this excursion. On the ride up he kept pointing out all the areas where he loves to ski (he’s 4 and so far has only showed off his skiing prowess on Dollar, but clearly he’s already a Waiting for Winter-valleyite). Baby Sun was transfixed, as was I, by the views of the surrounding landscape as we rode in comfortable luxury to an altitude of 7,700 ft, arriving in a few short minutes at the doors of the country’s oldest ski lodge, The Roundhouse.
Once at our destination, we headed for the most family-friendly spot in the 73 year old lodge, settling into Averell’s Bar for some light libations in front of a breathtaking view.
Little Sun welcomes Baby Sun to the mountaintop lifestyle
While it is clearly in its element as a curious capsule transporting skiers to their ultimate destination, riding the state-of-the-art Doppelmayr CTEC Detachable-Grip Gondola in the summertime is a new Sun Valley tradition. Whether you’re seeking a thrilling mountain bike ride, a challenging day of hiking or a moonlit dining spot, a ride to the top should definitely be part of your summer Sun Valley Bucket list.
Although conceived as a winter resort in 1935, Sun Valley is so perfect in the summertime I think it gives winter a run for its money as the season to come here for. What do you think? Which camp are you in? Waiting for Winter or Waiting for Winter to End? Tweet us @SunValleyResort or post a comment below.
Details: The Gondola travels from River Run Plaza. From there the top of Baldy is accessible by a quad lift. First ride up is 9 am and the last ride down is 4:30 pm. Ticket prices are here. Mountain biking opens June 30. The Roundhouse serves lunch from 11:30 – 3 pm, with lighter fare available from 3 – 4 pm. Lunch is first-come, first-served, reservations are required for dinner (served Friday and Saturday beginning this Friday, 208.622.2012). Each adult gondola pass receives a $10 coupon for lunch at the Roundhouse.