Acres: 2,154 | Vertical: 3,400’ | Snowfall: 250” | sunvalley.com
Hired by the Union Pacific Railroad to find a location for North America’s first destination ski resort, Austrian Felix Schaffgotsch discovered the near abandoned mining town of Ketchum, Idaho, on a dead-end spur. He immediately fell in love with its beauty and idyllic ski terrain. Eighty years later, Idaho’s entire population is considerably smaller than the Denver metro area, which means you’ll slide to the front of the lift maze on all but the busiest holidays. So show up with some fitness if you have aspirations of skiing buzzer to buzzer, because Baldy’s 3,400 feet of unrelenting fall line will have you begging for a lift line by noon.
Can’t-Miss Run: Check out the oft-overlooked Frenchman’s Gulch, where resort operators spent the last two summers mulching the deadfall in the north facing trees between Flying Squirrel and Graduate.
Resort Bite: All three of the spectacular log lodges offer equally incredible food. If you find yourself in the Warm Springs Lodge when the bell happens to ring, follow the mass of ski team kids rushing to get a fresh, half-baked chocolate chip cookie. For a special experience, visit the historic Roundhouse at the top of the gondola. Built in 1939, the smoke darkened, circular river rock fireplace, aroma of fondue, and views of the Pioneer mountains looming over Ketchum will transport you back to an era of wooden skis and pine tar wax. Enjoy a white tablecloth lunch, or cozy up to the bar for an après ski drink.
Stay an Extra Day: North America’s first backcountry ski guidebook, Sun Valley Ski Guide, was written by Austrian Andy Hennig. Let the guides from Sun Valley Trekking or Sawtooth Mountain Guides give you to a backcountry experience that’s virtually unchanged since Hennig led his ski tours in the 1940’s. —Mike Hattrup
From the Early Winter 2016 issue.