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What is Sun Valley Known For?

February 1, 2019

Looking back at the history of Sun Valley and the iconic notion of being the first destination ski resort in North America, I wanted to take a look at what is Sun Valley is known for.  

Surrounded by five mountain ranges, the Sun Valley area is home to internationally recognized arts and theatre, award-winning educational institutions, a Nordic Skiing Olympic Training Center, and world-renowned rivers and trails.  Sun Valley’s beautiful location, western yet sophisticated culture, natural resources, and the residents who call it home are what make Sun Valley so special.

Sun Valley is also known for down-to-earth celebrities, world-class athletes, and small-town friendliness.  People have asked 'what is the nickname of Sun Valley Big Mountain?'  Doing a little research I have found that adjacent to Sun Valley is the older city of Ketchum, which is just a mile downstream of the Sun Valley Lodge (along Trail Creek).  Ketchum primarily is comprised of the 19th-century town center and is adjacent to Bald Mountain along the Big Wood River and Warm Springs Creek.

Sun Valley Ski Resort opened in December of 1936 and attracted skiers in the wide open west to ski a steep mountain with soft fluffy powder and beautiful vast views of the valley.  The resort also hosted a lodge that could sleep up to 200 people.

Fun facts about Sun Valley's early days:
-Sun Valley was the first ski resort to build a chairlift, which was adapted from a system used to haul bananas onto ships in Panama.
-The first lift ticket price at Sun Valley in 1936 on Proctor and Dollar Mountains was 25 cents.
-The name "Sun Valley" was thought up by a New York PR agent, Steve Hannigan, who thought the name appropriate for a place that receives 250 days of sunshine a year.
-The first woman to win a gold medal in the winter Olympics, Gretchen Fraser, is from Sun Valley.  She continued to mentor Sun Valley's female skiers for many years, including champions such as Susie Corrock, Christin Cooper, Picabo Street, and Muffy Davis, giving them Tiffany gold four-leaf clover pins that assuredly had Fraser's golden touch. S he is buried near Ernest Hemingway in the Ketchum Cemetery.

Other Sun Valley facts:
-Sun Valley has the largest automated snowmaking system in the world.
-Sun Valley Resort's uphill lift capacity on Bald Mountain is 21,580 skiers per hour, but averages only 3,500 skiers per day.  This results in low lift lines with highest per person uphill lift capacity of any resort anywhere.
-Sun Valley has had a snowboarder in every winter Olympics since the discipline became an Olympic sport.  In 2014 our own Kaitlyn Farrington won gold in the women's half pipe.
-39 living Olympians call Sun Valley home.
-Powder Magazine was founded here.

Put Sun Valley on your list to visit this winter.  The historic mountain and charming town will have you in awe of this Idaho resort.



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