2012 is upon us! And what better place to ring in the New Year and get a fresh start than in Sun Valley! Sure New York knows how to throw a street party, beach parties in Thailand are hard to beat and I heard that the fireworks in Sydney over the Opera House can be pretty spectacular.
But really, there is nothing better than celebrating a fresh start, the New Year and new beginnings here in the mountains of Idaho. And with a fresh blanketing of snow and plenty of options to celebrate in style, I’m pretty sure once that clock strikes midnight, you’ll be glad you’re here.
We have broken down the events by location in Sun Valley and Ketchum, as well as a listing just for kids and families. So read on to check out our roundup of New Year’s options around the Sun Valley area, then grab your loved ones and go celebrate Sun Valley style. We will see you in the New Year!
>> Events in Sun Valley
1. New Year’s Bubbly Bash at River Run Lodge: NOW SOLD OUT
Hopefully you got your ticket early because this event, put on by Sun Valley Resort and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts Junior Patrons Circle, will be hopping! Eighties cover band, Notorious, will be providing tunes and with a free champagne toast and photo booth, revelers will be partying the night away!
>>Where: River Run Lodge
>>When: New Year’s Eve, 9:00 PM to 1:00 AM.
>>Info: Tickets are now SOLD OUT!
2. Joe Fos Trio at the Sun Valley Duchin Room
Ring in the New Year in the classic Sun Valley Lodge bar–the Duchin Room. The Joe Fos Trio will be providing music and it is sure to be a special Sun Valley New Year’s Eve.
3. Trail Creek Sleigh Ride: Celebrate Idaho-style!
Try an old, Idaho tradition to celebrate the start of 2012 with a classic horse-drawn sleigh. Starting and ending at the Sun Valley Inn, this ride takes you and your family out to the Trail Creek Cabin for dinner and brings you back under a canopy of stars. Dress warmly and get ready to celebrate!
>>Where: Sun Valley Inn and Trail Creek Cabin
>>When: New Year’s Eve, Saturday, January 31.
>>Info: Call for reservations 208-622-2135.
4. New Year’s Even Dinner at the Roundhouse
With one of the best views in town and some of the best dinner in the Valley, the only on-mountain lodge that offers dinner service is the Roundhouse–and it offers a picturesque and romantic setting for your New Year’s Eve dinner. The ride up and down the gondola also provides a little more romance for the evening.
>>Where: The Roundhouse, Bald Mountain. Park at River Run and ride the River Run Gondola.
>>When: New Year’s Eve, Saturday, January 31st.
>>Info: Call 208.622.4111 for details! Dinner reservations are currently booked but they are taking names for the wait list.
5. The Ram: New Year’s Dinner in the Sun Valley Village
Head to the cute and quaint Sun Valley Village for a New Year’s Eve dinner you won’t soon forget. The Ram is offering a five-course gourmet meal for $79 per person. Head to the nearby Inn Lobby Lounge to ring in the New Year after dinner!
>>Where: Sun Valley Village, the Ram Restaurant.
>>When: New Year’s Eve, Saturday, January 31.
>>Info: Call 208.622.4111 to inquire about availability.
>> Events in Ketchum
1. Reckless Kelly at Whiskey Jacques: The wildest party in town!
Nationally successful country-rock band, and native Idahoans, Reckless Kelly, headlines the main event in downtown Ketchum. Get ready for a wild night of dancing and fun at Ketchum’s favorite bar, Whiskey Jacques!
>>When: New Year’s Eve, Saturday, January 31. Doors open at 9:00 PM.
>>Info: Advance ticket sales are now over. Tickets will be available at the door for $75/person. Contact Whiskey Jacques for more info, 208.726.5297.
2. Ring in the New Year at the Roosevelt Grille!
DJ Lenny Joseph will be spinning tunes and there will be plenty of dancing to be had at Ketchum’s Roosevelt Grille. Come in for dinner before the party gets rocking at 10:00 PM! Tickets are available starting today and include a complimentary Champagne toast and party favors!
>>When: New Year’s Eve, Saturday, January 31. Party starts at 10:00 PM.
>>Info: Call 208.720.0051 for dinner reservations or to get your wristbands for the party!
3. Romantic Italian New Year’s Dinner at Il Naso
Romance your loved ones with an intimate and delicious dinner at Ketchum’s Il Naso. Dine by candlelight with this five-course, prix fixe meal with a complimentary glass of prosecco.
>>Where: Il Naso, 480 North Washington Ave, Ketchum.
>>When: New Year’s Eve, Saturday, January 31.
>>Info: Call 208.726.7776 for reservations.
4. Dance the night away at the Casino with Old Death Whisper
Ketchum’s famous dive bar, the Casino on Main Street in Ketchum, is hosting local folk/country/rock band, Old Death Whisper for their New Year’s Eve party. Come get into a little trouble and party down with the locals!
>>Where: The Casino, Main Street, Ketchum.
>>When: New Year’s Eve, Saturday, January 31. Party starts at 10:00 PM.
>>Info: $15/person at the door.
>> For the Young Ones – Families & Kids!
1. Sun Valley New Year’s Eve Party for the Kids!
The kids have their own party this year! Kids of all ages are welcome for food, beverages and fun in the Sun Valley Inn’s Continental Room. Come check it out!
>>Where: Sun Valley Inn, Continental Room.
>>When: New Year’s Eve, Saturday, January 31st. 7:30 PM to 1:00 AM.
>>Info: Call 208.622.4111 for reservations. $75/person.
Buses picking up skiers at the village, Winter of 1946.
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:
Don’t waste time circling the parking lot. Hop on the bus and ski sooner.
Don’t carry five pairs of sticks and poles from the car to the lodge. Hop on the bus and stop the whining.
Don’t drive home when you’re legs can’t move. Hop on the bus and stretch out.
When all is said and done, why not take the bus?!
Know Your Bus Driver (and the Rules & Etiquette)
Follow the rules of bus etiquette...or you may end up riding outside, like J.P. Morgan in this test of the first chairlift
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:
Bus drivers need to stay focused on the road (especially during busy holiday weeks and weekends), so before asking your driver for directions, consult the Mountain Rides pamphlets for color-coordinated, big font basics on getting around Ketchum.
Large maps are also located at the most popular stops (Warm Springs, River Run, Baldy Circle).
Don’t stand up before the bus comes to a complete stop. It’s dangerous.
Remember that others are riding with you and put the cell phone down or pause the iPod. (“Guys yelling into their cell phones is the worst” says Rod). Instead of jabbering on obliviously, hang up the phone and talk to the driver. Or talk to your friends (old or new-found)–buses here are communal and it’s fun to compare adventures after a day of skiing.
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.
Blue Route(all year) – Connecting the Warm Springs base, the YMCA, downtown Ketchum, Sun Valley, Dollar Mountain and Elkhorn. Times: 7:00 AM to 9:30 PM, year round (until 12:50 at night, winter only).
Red Route (all year) – Connecting Elkhorn neighborhoods, the River Run base, Christophe and downtown Ketchum (including Kentwood Lodge and Lift Tower Lodge). Times: 8:30 AM to 4:55 PM.
Green Route (all year) – Connecting downtown Ketchum, the River Run base, St. Luke’s and the Meadows. Times: 7:10 AM to 5:45 PM.
Bronze Route (winter only)– Connecting the Warm Springsbase and Sun Valley Village. (The Bronze Route runs from December 17th – April 1st.) Times: 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
Silver Route (winter only) – Connecting Sun Valley Village with Ketchum, the River Run base and Dollar Mountain. (The Silver Route runs from Thanksgiving through the end of the season.) Times: 8:00 AM to 5:56 PM.
Gold Route (winter only) – Connecting Sun Valley Club, Sun Valley, Dollar Mountain and Elkhorn Springs. (The Gold Route runs from December 17th – April 1st.) Times: 9:05 AM to 3:05 PM.
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."
Plan ahead with a specific time and location to make sure everybody meets up on top and in the right place
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!
Looking towards the firepit at River Run Base Lodge
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!
Why leave the mountain after skiing? Sun Valley has all kinds of aprs options, from the Warm Springs base to Lookout at the top of Baldy. Take an inside peek into these local drinking holes.
At Lookout Lodge. Getting ready to bomb to the bottom!!
LOOKOUT LODGE (9 am – 3:30 pm):
With its low beams, leather booths and etched glass, Lookout Restaurant is truly a throwback. Unlike the more Tyrolean Roundhouse or the stately River Run base lodge, Lookout has a neighborly vibe, establishing it as the "other" classic spot for regulars to lunch or aprs on the mountain. Need a quiet corner to nurse a tall boy and rest those legs? Or maybe the powder is fresh and speed the priority? Either way Lookout has you covered: food and beer are served quickly and there are rarely crowds. Located at the top of Baldy, it is Sun Valley’s peaceful aprs-ski perch.
Crowd: Anyone looking to avoid the rush of other lodges. Regulars include ski patrol, lifties and locals in the know. Lovers of elegant washrooms: Lookout will meet your marble standards.
Specials: Beer pairing is simple: order anything to pair with the unbeatable fish tacos. The purest aprs meal, however, is the Kobe beef slider (think sake-infused beef).
Noteworthy: Come mid-March, Lookout sets up an outdoor grill, complete with sunshine and beer coolers. Remember that peaceful December pilsner in the corner? Last year’s crowds grew into the hundreds…. Let’s aprs, bro!
RIVER RUN BASE LODGE (8 am – 6 pm)
Ahhhh, it’s the last ski run of the day–you are schusshing down Baldy with the beautiful River Run Lodge in sight. You can almost hear the wine corks popping and beer bottles clanking. River Run Lodge has a happening aprs vibe with live music offered on most weekends and holidays and a fabulous outdoor fire pit sitting area to meet new friends or catch up with old chums.
Crowd: Happy people of all ages, from locals to visitors, who just went skiing or boarding at America’s original destination resort!
Specials: Sipping tall boys of Pabst Blue Ribbon at the base of Baldy is one of life’s finer moments for some SVM staffers and fans.
Specials: The aprs scene is a classic mix of local and visitors (season lockers are upstairs) and many a special event has been staged at the River Run Lodge. Don’t miss the the afternoon spring scene or fire pit outside beside the gondola.
Noteworthy: Home to the original chairlift on Baldy and, as old-timers will tell you, to a single chairlift until the 1960s, River Run is now serviced by an 1,800-passengers-per-hour gondola which was the largest Doppelmayr project in North America when built in 2009.
SEATTLE RIDGE LODGE (9:30 am – 2:30 pm)
A quintessential mountain retreat, the Seattle Ridge lodge is massive, impeccably detailed and downright warm. What’s incredible about Seattle Ridge is that it has no secrets: sunshine and gourmet meals play on repeat. The fireplaces are always roaring, heating nearby boots and gloves, and the views only change with the seasons. Enjoy early aprs with friends (the lodge closes at 2:30) while gazing out on Hailey, Bellevue, the Pioneer Mountains and the surrounding lower valleys.
Crowd: Skiers, boarders and occasionally that guy who mono-skis. Literally the whole family. According to many, Seattle Ridge is "the place to be seen." If there’s a celebrity on the mountain, he or she will likely stop by this Sun Valley landmark for lunch at some point.
Specials: Do yourself a huge favor and try the mouth-watering prime rib. Don’t forget the pitcher of beer!
Noteworthy: Behind the beautiful log construction of Seattle Ridge were teams of helicopters that flew up and down the mountain delivering giant timber.
The SVM Staff enjoying apres at Averell's
AVERELL’S BAR – ROUNDHOUSE (11 am – 4 pm, last call 4:30 pm):
Quite possibly the quintessential spot for aprs skiing in Sun Valley, Averell’s Bar is located halfway up Bald Mountain on the lower level of the historic Roundhouse Lodge. The octagonal building is filled with loving reminders of Sun Valley’s glory days and Averell’s (named after Sun Valley’s founder, Averell Harriman) hosts the Valley’s most majestic views of the Wood River Valley and Pioneer Mountains. Originally opened in 1940 along with Baldy’s first chairlift, Averell’s reopened in 2010 and not many people even knew the room existed after it had spent nearly a decade as a storage locker wasting those breathtaking views.
Crowd: Frequented by movie stars, housewives, Olympians, regular Joes, tourists and the un-or underemployed, Averell’s will surely leave an imprint as it offers a stroll down memory lane.
Specials: The cheese fondue for two (or more) is tough to top and they offer a solid beer and wine selection. SVM staff is known for making major editorial decisions while enjoying beer and fondue at Averell’s.
Noteworthy: Averell’s announces last call to ski down by ringing the bell at 4:30 pm. The last gondola back down departs at 4:45 pm. Dinner at 7,700 feet is a special event (open Thursday-Sunday from 6 – 9 pm), reservations required, call 208.622.2800.
WARM SPRINGS LODGE (8 am – 4 pm):
The bar is small, but the view is huge. The drinks are cute ("Hot Apple Pie"), but they pack a punch. The lodge at Warm Springs does big and little things, and it does them all well. The lodge itself is magnificent, the perfect place to end a long day on the mountain. The famous cookie bell, almost unseen, nonetheless rings loudly enough to produce an even noisier scuttling of tiny boots to the kitchen. Find a seat facing the vaulted windows, grab a pint of the Stone IPA, and wait for the youngsters to return with Sun Valley’s greatest aprs snack.
Crowd: Residents of the Edelweiss and groups of all sizes parked at Warm Springs. Weary parents. A few years ago I also spotted Tim Allen on the patio.
Specials: The creative and very seasonal "Warm Ups" menu features drinks such as the "B-52" (coffee liqueur, Irish cream and orange cognac) and the "Nutty Irishman" (hazelnut liqueur, Irish cream and vanilla flavored vodka). Small cups of bar pretzels are on the house.
Noteworthy: The aprs crowd at Warm Springs follows the sun, meaning the scene heats up, literally and figuratively, after the holidays. By President’s Weekend, Warm Springs definitely secures the end-of-day "scene." Weather permitting, bands will play regularly outside. Nothing goes better with chocolate chip cookies than live music.
>> Check the Sun Valley website all season for more information on events/specials at Lookout, Seattle Ridge, Warm Springs and the mountain’s other lodges!
RIVER RUN PLAZA SETS STAGE FOR
SKI SEASON KICK-OFF CELEBRATION
You don’t need to ski to join in the celebration of Sun Valley’s 76th ski season celebration.
River Run Plaza will come alive with fun for everyone in the family from 10 am – 2 pm on Thanksgiving Day – Sun Valley’s traditional opening of the winter season.
A variety of booths will be set up featuring interesting aspects of Sun Valley’s mountain operations, including the world’s largest grooming machine, snowmaking operations and ski patrol which will feature a gondola evacuation demonstration at 11 am.
Autumnal food and specialty drinks will be available for purchase at River Run Day Lodge.
Sun Valley Resort’s Marketing Dept. also will be on hand with their ski trade show booth complete with its accompanying spinning wheel for prizes.
The Brass Ranch and Pete Lane’s will be open for early Christmas shopping.
“The Monument Plant is a tall, narrow, cone-shaped plant with flowers clustered around the upper part of its stem. The plants live for many years, blooms only once and then dies. Flowering is unpredictable, but seems related to moisture,” according to Idaho Mountain Wildflowers – Earle. Some think it is on a seven year cycle. This year, the monument plant seems to be everywhere. We are seeing it in the middle of the upper runs, such as Holiday, Exhibition and Olympic. If you look out the window as you are riding up the Gondola, you can see this plant as you ride over Exhibition. Because of the cold temperatures in the spring, The mountain is still green and the mountain flowers are in bloom. This is a perfect time to go for a Gondola ride, lunch at the Roundhouse and a nature hike!
The USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championships racing continues through Sunday. Come down to River Run to watch the races, have a beer and check out the Expo! Racing starts Saturday at 7:30 a.m. and Sunday at 8:00 a.m.