If you want to know the lay of the land in any ski town, you want to jump the line and ask a true local. So we tracked a few down and got their insider advice on how to properly enjoy their hometown, Sun Valley, Idaho.
Local ski bum, Kellee Havens knows a thing or two about culinary delights as operator of the short green school bus, The Haven. It’s a food truck with amazing food and an appreciation for proper drinking. As an après ski expert, she’s got quite a few pointers.
“We have a lot of gems in town when it comes to après and a proper order in which they are to be enjoyed. Begin with après either at the River Run Lodge (best Bloody Mary anywhere) or beers and wine at Apples Bar and Grill (so local you will feel local) and then hit the shower and freshen up. Once you are presentable, saunter into the Olympic Bar at Michel’s Christiana. It’s one of classiest old school skier haunts in Sun Valley that serves some of the best cocktails anywhere. I highly recommend the French onion soup and the pommes frites to keep things from spinning out of control too quickly. Then head down the street to the Cellar Pub, a classic basement-type joint where the favorite is the pub fare food and the Moscow Mule served in an authentic copper mug. Steal the mug and you will, however, be hunted down and humiliated on Facebook! From there it’s a short hop across the street to check in on the live music or DJ scene at Whiskey Jacques. Then it’s off to where all good nights come to a head, the infamous Casino Club. Yes, it’s divey, but you will feel right at home with the best bartenders and the stiffest yet most reasonably priced drinks in the area. Make that circuit with your ski boots on and you are a legend in this town.”
Kristin Poole, the director for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, shares her favorite wintery activity, a Nordic ski at Prairie Creek.
“The Prairie Creek Trail takes off on a lollipop from the Harriman Trail about 20 miles north of town. It’s truly the perfect place to be in the winter. Either take the Prairie Creek Loop or just ski up the Harriman towards Galena Lodge and back. Both options provide the most stunning views of Boulder Mountains, which fill me up and make me delighted to be alive and breathing! On a perfect day when the sun is out and the snow is sparkling crystalline you will know you are one of the luckiest people on the planet. To cap it off, venture the extra five or so miles north to the Galena Lodge and have a hot toddy or lunch. It’s truly a special place you will want to return to again and again.”
When he is not pouring pints, Paul Holle, co-owner of the Sawtooth Brewery, takes advantage of the town’s cultural offerings.
“Sun Valley is a hot bed for the arts and culture. With the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and the other groups in town who bring so much awesome art to the valley, you’re missing out not to take it all in. It’s truly the kind of thing you would find in a big city from gallery walks, to famous guest speakers and musicians to our wintery Reggae in the Mountains music festival. While we are all here for the skiing, the quality of our arts and culture scene is something not every mountain town can offer.”
For Ben Verge, lifetime local and US Olympic Team freestyle ski coach, it’s all about the skiing on Baldy.
“Not everyone knows how to capitalize on how big the skiing on Baldy is. Do it the right way and you will be addicted. First it’s about finding your spot on the mountain and going where the people aren’t which isn’t that hard. Now, this is not a powder day strategy I’ll just say that, because that is a secret. But this is how you ski the mountain any other day. You want to get up early on the first chairs and make one or two half laps on Christmas Chair in the sun. Once you get back to the top and so does everyone else, head down the north side of the mountain in the shade, which you will have to yourself. Check out what is happening on the lower part of Warm Springs. If it’s empty spin a Greyhawk chair lap. From there go back to the top and head over into the bowls and do a run or two on Mayday chair. While you are doing this, pay attention to what the sun is doing and where the wind is blowing. Find the refreshed powder stashes in the lees of the wind and if the sun is strong enough it will soften up the exposed slopes. You’re going to be blown up pretty fast so head into the Lookout Lodge on the summit for drink of water. They have about the best taco bar anywhere in Idaho and the tacos are really cheap with the best condiment bar you’ve ever seen.”