The Oldest Resort In America Is Right Here In Idaho And It's Amazing
As local travel experts, we know what travelers are looking for when it comes to finding the perfect accommodations for their next trip. To compile our lists, we scour the internet to find properties with excellent ratings and reviews, desirable amenities, nearby attractions, and that something special that makes a destination worthy of traveling for.
There are a lot of fantastic resorts scattered across the country, each with their own beautiful locations, lavish amenities, and – of course – incredible skiing. But few people know that America’s first ski destination resort is right here in Idaho – and it has quite the history buried beneath its picturesque surface. Fortunately, even for those who aren’t powder hounds or craving runs down a mountain, the Sun Valley Resort boasts endless things to do year-round, and in perfect mountain luxury.
If tradition and history abound in Idaho's borders, the Sun Valley Resort is quite possibly the heart of the state--at least when it comes to winter recreation.
With a distinctive character, underrated glamor, and fiercely self-sufficient mountain spirit, Sun Valley sets itself apart from other major ski resorts.
It was also among the first resorts in the country to embrace snowboarding. In fact, an Idaho resident has represented the sport in every Olympic Games since it was introduced.
As America's oldest ski resort, heralded in 1936, Sun Valley actually created the idea of the family ski vacation.
Having grown up in the Swiss Alps, a gentleman by the name of W. Averell Harriman was determined to bring a luxury alpine resort to North America. As the chairman of the Union Pacific, the goal was to increase rail traffic specifically. Hundreds of mountains were scouted across the west until Ketchum, Idaho took his breath away.
It's also home to the country's first chairlift.
Before this, skiers either hauled their gear up the slopes or were pulled up by tugrope contraptions. The idea of being carried up the mountain - sitting - was luxury in itself.
Since then, it has become a quintessential getaway and renowned landing place for both national and international celebrities alike.
While the beloved home and final resting place of Ernest Hemingway, the likes of Clark Gable, Tom Selleck, Harry Truman, James Earl Jones, Oprah, Schwarzenegger, homeowner Bruce Willis, and hundreds more have graced the slopes and the heart and soul of the resort - the Sun Valley Lodge - for decades. Each of their experiences are caught on film and preserved in the foyer of the lodge for visitors to pore over.
The photogenic summit of Bald Mountain is the postcard-perfect view that Sun Valley has come to be known for, but the surrounding Pioneers offer plenty of recreation opportunities aside from skiing and snowboarding.
For novices, Dollar Mountain is the starting slope. Sun Valley Trekking and other local outfitters offer year-round hikes, yurt camping, and fat bike riding.
Pull into the lodge’s circular drive and you'll see white swans gliding around the property’s signature front pond.
Gracing the property is a new 20,000-square-foot luxury spa beside a remodeled heated outdoor saltwater pool, where concrete columns have been stained to precisely match the original lodge.
A year-round outdoor ice rink adds a charming, all-ages activity to the heart of the resort that offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
The original golf course here enjoys spectacular real estate at the base of the slopes, prime land usually given over to high-end condos.
But for all of the Sun Valley Resort's growing fame, the Sun Valley Lodge's recent remodel and additions have particularly transformed this already scenic mountain getaway into an even more luxurious experience.
Complete overhauls of Hemingway's room, the recently added Terrace room, updated suites, brightened front lobby, and enhanced landscaping make the already show-stopping lodge - complete with flickering fireplaces and rustic mountain charm - an unforgettable experience.
Whether for work or for play, the next time you visit Sun Valley, just remember that you're staying at a resort that not only shaped the American skiing industry, but paved the way for Idaho's reputation as a recreation haven.
Where’s your favorite winter getaway in Idaho?
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.