During the 1930s, railroad
magnate Averell Harriman was so impressed by the Winter
Olympics at Lake Placid, and by European skiing resorts,
that he commissioned an Austrian -- Count Felix
Schaffgotsch -- to find a suitable western site for an
American ski resort which would have the ambience of the
European mountain resorts. The result was Sun Valley,
America's first destination ski resort, and the first in
the world to have chair lifts.
Sun Valley Resort is set in a side
valley just outside the town of Ketchum -- a destination
in itself for many who wish to "get away from it all".
Ernest Hemingway was the most notable of Ketchum's
residents. His grave is in the little cemetery in
Ketchum, and there is a memorial to him near the Sun
Valley Golf Course, beside Trail Creek.
What to See & Do
Sun Valley is a large resort complex
which does not reveal its size from the entrance.
Instead, the complex is comfortable, with a 1940s-style
and ambience which can't be matched by any of the more
modern Rockies resorts. And it's nestled at the foot of
the Sawtooth Mountains which continually provide a jagged
scenic backdrop. With 380 rooms in its two hotels (The
Lodge and The Inn) there are accommodations for romantic
hideaways or for family vacations. The rink made famous
in the Glenn Miller/Sonia Henie 1940s movie "Sun Valley
Serenade" is there, winter and summer. Today's top figure
skaters provide shows on summer Saturday nights. The rink
is part of the Lodge's dining and entertainment area. You
can even relax at 5 pm in the Lodge, to see the movie.
For summer visitors, the Sun Valley resort
has two 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts and swimming
In winter months, Bald Mountain
provides 1200 acres of downhill skiing with 12 lifts
including three high-speed quad chairs. Dollar
Mountain is more of a family skiing operation with
four lifts. Tickets for the two mountains are
Ketchum and Sun Valley also have two
cross-country ski centers and there are two more in
the Sawtooth National Recreation Center which is
just north of the resort area. In all, there are 175
miles of groomed trails including skating lanes.
Snowmobile tours are popular as well. In summer, there
are 80 miles of hiking trails in the Recreation Area.
On winter evenings, horse drawn sleighs
take visitors into the woods for gourmet dinners.
Restaurants in the resort complex range from the
Konditorei -- with outdoor deck eating -- to the deluxe
dining room in the Lodge.
The other large vacation operation, with
132 rooms and five restaurants, is Elkhorn Resort,
located just south of Ketchum off Highway 75. This is a
newer hotel resort with an 18 hole championship golf
course, cross-country trails and the same skiing
arrangements as Sun Valley with ski lifts on Dollar
Mountain rising from the Elkhorn base.
In the town of Ketchum, life is more down
scale (but not much), compared to the social whirl at the
two resorts. There are cozy European style lodgings, bed
and breakfast inns, modern accommodations in old,
historic buildings, and several larger and modern hotels
and motels. In the winter, this is a ski town.
During summer and fall months, the town
draws thousands of outdoor types, interested in exploring
the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and enjoying
the rustic environment which the town provides. The
recreation area is even miles north of Ketchum. Over 300
alpine lakes lie in the Sawtooth Range and a network of
hiking trails criss cross the area. There are campsites
(public and private) throughout the area including
several along Highway 75, the main route. There are
cabins for rent as well as rustic lodges. It's a good
idea to stop at the Recreation Area's information center,
just north of Ketchum, for an overview of the
recreational attractions of this vast mountain
wilderness. The Sawtooth National Fish Hatchery
raises more than three million salmon each year and it
goes without saying that the area is an angler's
paradise. There are boat ramps on several of the lakes
including Alturas, Redfish Pettit and Lake Stanley.
Highway 75 takes you north through the recreation area to
to the town of Stanley.
Ketchum, Sun Valley and Elkhorn Village
have a full range of summer and winter festivities. The
Sun Valley Winter Carnival is held during the
third and fourth weeks of January and includes a food
fair, dances. and a celebrity ski race. The Sun Valley
Music Festival is held during July and August,
featuring classical music and jazz. The festival is
organized by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and
Summerdance at Elkhorn brings
renowned dance stars to the mountains, a counterpart to
the summer dance school here. The town of Ketchum
celebrates its pioneer mining history at the Wagon
Days Celebration (end of August) with flapjack
breakfasts, band concerts, dancing and a melodrama. A
newer entry is the Sun Valley Swing 'n Dixie Jazz
Jamboree, held in mid-October at the resort.
National Forest Campgrounds
Aside from the recreation area camping
facilities farther north, there are several campgrounds
in the Sawtooth National Forest closer to Ketchum.
There are two campgrounds on East Fork Road,
southeast of town (Federal Gulch and Sawmill). West of
Ketchum, on Warm Springs Road, there are two units which
offer private camping (with one unit tach).
Cottonwood is 5.5 miles from town, Penny
Lake is 4 miles from the highway. Northeast of town
there are three campgrounds on Trail Creek Road.
Boundary campground has a picnic area with 24-hour
camping only. Park Creek and Phi Kappa campgrounds
have 36 sites with grills and picnic tables.
Sun Valley Resort
(208) 622-4111 or 800-635-8261 (outside Idaho)
or 800-632-4104 (in Idaho)
Located on Sun Valley Road, just east of Ketchum, this is
the oldest, and many say the finest, of the ski and
summer destination resorts. The Inn and the Lodge provide
varied accommodations, the dining in the lodge is superb,
and there are more restaurants and lounges, along with
golf courses, ice skating, swimming pools and all the
expected resort amenities. Write: Sun Valley, ID 83353.
Sun Valley RV Resort
This complete RV campground offers 80 spaces with full
hookups, whiripool, pool, mini golf and more. It's
located south of Ketchum.