Sun Valley knows how to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
Images: courtesy Caroline Davidson and Idaho Tourism
Make your perfect ski getaway from Australia to Sun Valley Idaho. Here’s how:
Choose Your Getaway timing
Undoubtedly, December is the perfect month to head to Sun Valley. Aussies are staying home for Christmas, but you’ll be back in time! The snow season is well underway in Idaho. So usually means there’s an abundance of powder ready for your visit. The holiday season has started in Idaho, so decorations and lights make the getaway to Sun Valley even more spectacular: like they are celebrating your arrival. Flights and accommodation are cheaper and more available before Christmas.
Hollywood celebrities were first to discover the delights of Sun Valley.
Accommodation is Plentiful
Unquestionably, your perfect ski getaway should include the best accommodation for your needs. Whatever they may be!
Sun Valley Resort is for those wanting luxury, old world style and glamour. And easy access to the slopes. As a result Hollywood, celebrities, the rich and famous all make Sun Valley their home away from home.
Sun Valley Resort
Sun Valley Resort at night
The Limelight Hotel in nearby Ketchum is the latest, modern luxury hotel blending style, comfort and a central location to both Dollar and Baldy Mountains with the charm of this small town location.
Apartment or condo-style vacation stays are plentiful and offer the ease of self-catering. Book here.
Epic Skiing or Boarding on your Perfect Getaway in Sun Valley
Sun Valley is a magical place to ski or board whether you are a first-timer or a veteran advanced powder junkie. Importantly, the resort is famous for no lift lines and no clouds. And for its snowmaking! So if the snow gods have not been kind, no worries, the snow cover will still be spectacular. The sun is nearly always out- and so will you be. Furthermore, Sun Valley is part of Epic Pass- incredible value for skiers and boarders around the world.
Undoubtedly, Baldy Mountain is the main game. Bald is for skiers of all levels with a great variety of terrain, all downhill with no flats or plateaus. Go fast or slow but go downhill.
Downhill, cross country, ice-skating; the choice of winter thrill is yours.
Dollar mountain is where skiing learned to ski and the best place for new skiers and boarders to do the same… It has the world’s first chair lift along with four more, beginner- friendly, treeless, sunny slopes and plenty of vertical to keep everyone smiling.
The dedicated Ski & Snowboard program available in Sun Valley offers endless opportunities for group or private lessons to learn and get the most out of your perfect winter getaway in Sun Valley. Higher Ground is the adaptive snow sports provider in Sun Valley and provides on-snow opportunities for people of all ages with cognitive, physical, and developmental disabilities.
The Day Lodges – For Palaces in the snow
At the base of Baldy is a dedicated mini-village for everything ski-related you need, and then some. Tune or wax your skis, buy that special beanie or your new snowboard or stash your kit before heading off for the day. Relax here for après by the roaring open fire with a local beer, wine or enjoy wood-fired pizza or try the sushi. Live entertainment ups the energy on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
Seattle Ridge Day Lodge
The place to stop for lunch with a side of breath-taking views of Wood River Valley nearly 9,000 feet below.
Warm Springs Day Lodge
Fully renovated in 2018 is the local’s pick for the famous freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, best eaten on the sun-drenched patio or while listening to the live entertainment inside
Carol’s Dollar Mountain Day Lodge
The family friendly venue an easy walk from the village, with something for everyone. Also a great breakfast or lunch spot, inside or outside on the heated patio.
Must-Dos Off the Slopes – Explore Ketchum
This small town is full of wonderful surprises, great dining, entertainment and has as cool western feel.
The “Pio” to locals, the Pioneer Inn is classic authentic western saloon. And great place to meet the locals! In addition, Grumpy’s for beer-can lined walls, an authentic local feel and celerity-spotting opportunities or the Warfield Distillery & Brewery for craft cocktails, local brew and excellent locally sourced pub grub.
Carol Singers and Sleigh Ride Dinner
Christmas in Sun Valley comes complete with roving carol singers around the main venues but for the full experience rug up and don’t miss a sleigh-ride dinner at the Trail Cabin. A rustic hideaway reached by horse-drawn sleigh and featuring north-western fare and the best carol singers around.
Art and Culture
Famed author Ernest Hemingway has tributes of booze, flowers and coins left on his simple otherwise unadorned grave site near Ketchum. He wrote “The Sun Also Rises” during a lengthy stay at the Resort and committed suicide in 1961 after a full life of writing, hunting, boozing & womanizing.
Trawl the treasure at the Gold Mine
Visit this community run op shop in downtown Ketchum, legendary for finds of expensive ski wear for a fraction of the cost.
The famous Gold Mine op shop, Ketchum
Get Up and Go: To Sun Valley Idaho.
You can be in Sun Valley the same day! Depart Sydney to LA, and fly into Hailey ( SUN) arriving the same date.
Hailey (or officially Friedman Memorial) Airport ( SUN) is located outside Ketchum and provides direct flights to Boise and beyond.
Boise Airport ( BOI) is a two hour drive from Sun Valley and has direct flights ( also approx. 2 hours ) from LAX.
Finally, for more information on your perfect ski getaway to Sun Valley Idaho go to: greatamericanwest.com.au; VisitIdaho.org and SunValley.com
https://greatamericanwest.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Picture2.png395624Caroline Davidsonhttps://greatamericanwest.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/TGAW-Horizontal-BlackTagline.pngCaroline Davidson2021-02-10 06:55:382021-02-10 07:00:14The Perfect Ski Getaway in Sun Valley Idaho
Every ‘Thelma-and- Louise’ Style Girls’ Road-Trip Itinerary in Idaho Starts Somewhere Fabulous
In my own version of the ultimate road- trip movie “Thelma and Louise”; ( i.e. one where I don’t drive off a cliff), I teamed up with an adventurous and travel-writing doyen gal-pal for a girls’ road-trip itinerary in Idaho and to adventure. Our fabulous starting point was America’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park, in the Great American West , but our road-trip was to take us far beyond the park, headed west, north-west into our own private Idaho. After the scenic, natural and wildlife wonders of Yellowstone we depart the park at West Yellowstone, Montana, the western entrance to the park and a town dedicated to visitors of this natural wonder.
The top must-dos inWest Yellowstone
Before departing the park and heading west demand at least a day’s exploration and possibly a night of glamping under the stars.
In this case the top things to do and places to see in West Yellowstone are;
Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center: This not-for-profit, wildlife park and educational facility is an amazing opportunity to experience the world of grizzly bears and gray wolves. Furthermore, all the animals featured at the center are unable to survive in the wild and serve as representatives for their wild peers.
Under Canvas glamping: Located only 10 minutes from Yellowstone National Park’s West Entrance, it is the perfect spot to experience Montana’s unique hydrothermal and geologic wonders, diverse wildlife and boundless means of outdoor recreation, with a large serving of style.
Zipline Adventure Park: Well worth a trip to break up the biking and hiking by zipping through the trees. Especially in the summer when there is also a Ropes Course for the kids to do to.
Of course we are excited to enter Idaho soon after leaving West Yellowstone and decide to head to Victor. Firstly, we backtrack towards the border of Wyoming and the Teton Mountain Range, via Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. Next, during this stretch, taking a detour for a breather at the wildly beautiful Lower and Upper Mesa Falls is a pitstop you will not regret.
Following on from Ashton, Idaho, the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway heads northeast into the lush landscape of the Targhee National Forest. This close- to- thirty-mile loop is hugely impressive, snaking all the way to the Island Park area. Along the way, visitors will spot the popular Warm River campground and two of the most magnificent waterfalls in the West — Lower and Upper Mesa Falls. Following this at the upper falls you can stop at the historic Big Falls interpretive center to learn about the geology and history of the area.
Lower Mesa Falls
A Sidestep East
Without a doubt the backtracking east is well worth it as we are staying at the fabulous Teton Springs Lodge and Spa, a great option for families, golfers and skiers in winter as it’s located an easy drive from the Teton Mountains and both Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (over the border in Wyoming). Next on the list, dining and drinks- check! And the spa- heaven for girls ‘roughing it’ in the ‘wilderness’! Of course you can’t forget the sensational breakfast; well a girl needs to keep her energy up on the road!
Image: Teton Mountain Range. Credit: Visit Idaho
Girls in Idaho Gotta Go West
Finally we are again heading west; making our first stop at Idaho Falls for a visit to the oh-so-memorable Idaho Potato Museum. Even if you routinely ‘don’t do museums’, this one is a MUST! Hint: Marilyn Monroe and /or mashed-potato fans will love it!
Idaho Potato Museum
Idaho’s ‘Strangest Little Town’
Following Highway 20 there is a whistle-stop in Arco, a tiny town with a big story. In 1955, tiny Arco won fame as “the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power”. Today, it mainly serves as a jumping-off point for excursions into our next destination, the nearby Craters of the Moon National Monument.Arco is one of Idaho’s strangest little towns. For instance, there are numbers painted on the rock mountain that towers above the town, and the sign in the park on Grand Avenue explains that graduating high school classes have been adding their class years to the monument since 1920, which makes for a spectacular, if odd, graffiti installation.
Next while exploring Arco, we manage to find the epitome of small-town America diners, Pickle’s Place, complete with an elderly ex-, or maybe current, biker chick with long grey hair and tattoos everywhere, rocking the counter. The Harley complete with a sidecar and American flag parked outside was only to be expected. Now we’re talkin’ Thelma and Louise, but sadly, still no sign of Brad Pitt!
Craters of The Moon National Monument and Preserve: To the Moon Alice! Well, here’s your chance without leaving earth…
Firstly we recommend you start your Craters experience with a stop at the Visitor Center for maps, trail suggestions and information about upcoming presentations, guided hike and events. Visitors to Craters can drive the loop road or hike a variety of trails. In the winter, it is a popular spot for snowshoe treks and cross-country skiing. Plan to stay as the sun goes down and check out the out- of- this- world night because the area is a designated International Dark Sky Park, which means there will be no shortage of stars to observe.
Image: Craters of the Moon National Monument entrance, near Arco. Credit: Visit Idaho.
Discover Twin Falls
Undoubtedly one of the best things about a girls’ road trip itinerary in Idaho is the unplanned stops or places that delight and exceed your expectations. On this trip, one of our most exciting ‘discoveries’ was the stunning Twin Falls. We enjoyed its many delights so much that we found ourselves wanting to set up camp and stay awhile. To start with, Twin Falls is one of those road trip ‘finds’ that you simply can’t believe you didn’t know about before.
Moreover, while there we had a dinner fit to civilize even the most ardent of adventuring fast-food girls; at the top of the canyon at Elevation486! With that view and the spectacular food, we felt like royalty. We loved the fresh Northwest Seafood linguine and Idaho Ruby Red trout, but the Canyon-cut rib eye will be next on our hit list when we make a return journey. Especially good for the girls who need their iron boost! Not ones to skip on dessert, we topped it off with homemade Apple-Blackberry crisp washed down with Koenig Vineyards Idaho Ice wine. This was a truly fine-dining experience to rave about!
Image: Perrine Coulee Falls, Twin Falls. Credit: Visit Idaho.
It should be noted when in Twin Falls a stop-off at Snake River is essential. With so many adventure options on our girls road trip itinerary in Idaho, the thrill- seekers among us are sure to have a fantastic time. In our opinion, the kayaking (which was our absolute favourite) is not to be missed. Another fun find was the Blue Lakes Inn; with its quirky 50’s,road-trip style, motel accommodation and friendly family service, it is a recommended stay for all travellers passing through.
Image: Mountain biking near Snake River Canyon. Credit: Visit Idaho.
The Shoshone Falls: who knew?
Image: Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls. Credit: Visit Idaho.
Located at the edge of Twin Falls, Shoshone Falls is a the stand-out attraction and scenic beauty on the Snake River. At 212 feet, the falls are higher than Niagara Falls and offer a unique blend of recreational facilities, including playgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas, a boat ramp, swimming area, and a scenic overlook. Try a picnic in the shaded, grassy areas which provide a perfect vantage point for viewing Shoshone Falls. We never wanted to leave! But the highway calls.
Let’s hit the road!
Following this was stop two! The next leg of our girls’ road-trip itinerary is the easy 2.5 hour drive on Thousand Springs Scenic Byway: it had us increasingly excited to be heading to Idaho’s capital city of Boise, for a much needed girls’ night out on the town.
Image: Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls. Credit: Visit Idaho.
What a detour; gotta love these dunes!
Before we could make it to Boise we were again distracted; so much to see, so little time. Who doesn’t love a detour, though? Especially when the tallest freestanding sand dunes are calling us to stop at Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park. With the highest dunes reaching 470 feet, we channeled out inner children and hiked to the very top of this adult-sized sandpit. The view and bragging rights make the climb well worth it. The dunes at Bruneau Dunes State Park are unique in the Western Hemisphere. While other dunes in the Americas form at the edge of a natural basin, the Bruneau dunes form near the center. The dunes started with sands from the Bonneville Flood which occurred about 15,000 years ago and, unlike most dunes, the sands here do not drift far from the peaks which overlook the surrounding plains and picturesque lakes.
Image: Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park, near Twin Falls. Credit: Visit Idaho.
Back on track
Last but not least we tiredly (but happily) finally get back on track for Boise. We were very ready to frock up and see the sights and lights of such a green and beautiful city.
Too many things to delight and discover about Boise:
Image: Downtown Boise. Credit: Visit Idaho.
First up: a two-night stay at Hotel 43 in downtown Boise was just what the road doctor ordered; perfect plush robes, free wifi, Caffe D’Arte coffee AND close to everything. We’re talking right next door to the one and only Chandlers, Boise’s best steak and seafood restaurant where Boise’s upper echelon, folk- in- the- know head for sophisticated cocktails and to be seen. An added bonus for the morning after; free bicycles we could explore on!
Exploring Boise’s Green Belt
With the free bike, why not ride the Boise River Green Belt? Our highlight was the spring blossoms that fell as we rode past, looking like summer ‘snow’. That, tied with startling two gorgeous fawns in the bushes beside the river (which was as startling for us as for them)! Scooters, bicycles, roller skates, running or walking; these 25 miles of pathway and green oasis is one of the city’s most loved assets, providing wildlife habitat, scenic views and pedestrian access to the city’s popular riverside parks.
Image: Biking tracks, Boise River Green Belt. Credit: Visit Idaho.
Calling all culture and history buffs; here are our top Boise suggestions for things to see and do:
Image: The Basque Market. Credit: Visit Idaho.
Image: Nez Perce National Historical Park Visitor Center. Credit: Visit Idaho.
Wildlife and conservation your thing?
If you answered yes, we have the perfect suggestion: The Worldwide Center for Birds of Prey. Wonderful and wild, you can drop in to hear the heartwarming story of how they saved the Peregrine falcon from extinction; a joyous tale of conservation success. Now home for raptors who cannot be returned to the wild, this is a haven for unique animals and a glimpse into the world of some of the most fascinating and rare birds from around the globe. Or learn more about the ancient art of falconry; it will have you pining for the romance of the desert and your very own Lawrence of Arabia.
Girls Road-trip Itinerary in Idaho: Your FAQ
Suggested entry point airports: Denver, Jackson, Salt Lake City.
For car or camper rental Alamo, DriveAway and other companies are readily available to book your favourite car or camper van out of any of the entry cities.
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