Sun Valley Ski Resort—the First of its Kind

Sun Valley, Idaho is a famous city with a world-renowned terrain and a reputation of adventure and magnificence. Stars from all over the world and of all professions have stayed at the lodge and enjoyed the ski resort, especially in its heyday. Back in the 1930s, W. Averell Harriman, the then Chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad and a skier who loved the Swiss Alps, recruited a count, and Austrian skier, by the name of Felix Schaffgotsch to scout out a place in the United States to make a European-style ski resort constructed like the resorts in Canada by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. After taking trains all across the States and passing on states like Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, and California, Count Schaffgotsch fell head over heels for the beautiful landscape of Ketchum, Idaho, and from there history was born. With only seven months of construction, Count Schaffgotsch turned the sleepy town of Ketchum, Idaho into the Sun Valley resort that everyone knows and loves (and now Ketchum, Idaho is the small town next to the big resort).

The biggest names of that time appeared and fell in love with the resort—names such as Clark Gable, Ingrid Bergman, and Ernest Hemingway. In fact, Hemingway actually finished his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls in one of the suites in the Sun Valley Lodge. This ski resort in the now city of Sun Valley, Idaho, right next to the town of Ketchum (where author Ernest Hemingway lived the remained of his days and was buried). It became the first of its kind—a ski resort and lodge that was a taste of Old Europe with a large scoop of the Wild West.

The Sun Valley Ski Resort was the first destination ski resort in the United States and the first resort with a chairlift in the entire world. Before Sun Valley, ski resorts used T-bars, rope tows, or some other form of pulling the skier back up to the top of the slope. Harriman consulted railroad engineers to figure out a more effective way to bring skiers uphill. The engineers brainstormed, and after thinking about the way train cargo is loaded, the engineers came up with the chairlift. So, whenever you see or think of the classic American ski resort vacation experience, remember that it all started in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Now the Sun Valley Ski Resort has become the home of stars, been talked about in Forbes for being one of the best ski resorts in the world and the best in the United States, and developed into a must-experience destination in the great state of Idaho. The popularity is still high amongst skiers and stars, as celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Justin Timberlake are among some of the present-day names who have enjoyed the Sun Valley slopes.

However, you may be thinking that Sun Valley is eccentric or has a flair of glamour and glitz, but this actually isn’t the case. People first loved Sun Valley for its ritzy swankiness, but these days it actually isn’t seen as an over-the-top glamour resort. Sun Valley’s ski resort is actually seen more as a rural gem in today’s fast-paced, extravagant society. This doesn’t mean the resort isn’t of high quality, as it definitely still is. This resort is a bucket list “must” and is sure not to disappoint. With its fine amenities and rich history, there is so much more to experience at Sun Valley than its slopes alone. Although, even if it were to be based on its slopes alone, Sun Valley is still a top spot to be.

To give you a taste of the majesty of Sun Valley and its beginnings and successes, the following is a quote by Patrick Hemingway about his father, renowned author Ernest Hemingway’s, relationship with Sun Valley, Idaho:

"As far as the relationship with Sun Valley, I would say it was not a relationship that was terribly profound for him as an artist. If you examine his books, I think there is absolutely nothing about Sun Valley…I think his relationship with Sun Valley was his relationship with his country. He didn’t live in the States for most of his life. Here was a place where he could get back in touch with his own countrymen. He had many good friends here. I think those friends stood him in very good stead in his last days."

Sun Valley is an amazing oasis for adventure and Idaho history. If you want to hit all the famous Idaho spots at least once in your lifetime, Sun Valley definitely cannot be missed; it’s a key piece of Idaho history. While you’re there, there is plenty to do without skiing as well—you can inner tube across the snow (called “floating”) and book a special weekend for you and a loved one or even you and your dog, as one of the local hotels has a pet-friendly package where your canine friend will get treated and pampered too. With so many packages offered at hotels and so much beautiful scenery, Sun Valley, Idaho is a destination worth experiencing.

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