Regality hits you in the face walking into the River Run Day Lodge at Sun Valley, a base point so luxurious, you’d be forgiven for thinking you waltzed into the Four Seasons instead. Tables are spread out across the carpeted floor of the post-and-beam structure, complete with a massive stone fireplace in the center of the room. Head upstairs and grab a seat in one of the leather chairs circumventing the balcony. Maybe it’s not easier putting your boots on while seated there, but it won’t hurt to try.
This was my first visit to Idaho last spring, even if Sun Valley had long been on my wish list. I wanted to step in the footsteps of Warren Miller and Ernest Hemingway, see if I could catch a glimpse of Eastwood, and check out if the Easter Bowl on the 9,150-foot summit of Bald Mountain was all it was cracked up to be (affirmative). I wanted to ride the storied Christmas lift, wander downtown Ketchum, and devour elk chili. So, I jumped at the opportunity to visit when it arose earlier this year.
It isn’t particularly easy to get to from New England. Nonstop flights to Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey, about 20 minutes from the resort, are available only from Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Seattle. Your best option is to fly into either Salt Lake or Denver and grab another flight from there. Delta runs two nonstop flights from Salt Lake City to Friedman, while United flies nonstop 1-3 times per day from Denver during the winter.
That’s how my parents, who were accompanying me on the trip, traveled, through Salt Lake and then to Friedman, from where they Uber-ed to our lodging for the weekend at the Sun Valley Inn. The times I had available, though, based on other commitments, just weren’t going to work unless I stayed over in Denver or Salt Lake to catch a flight the next morning. Or, I could fly into Boise, rent a car, and drive the 155 miles to Sun Valley, fittingly billed as “America’s first destination ski resort.” I chose the latter, if only because I’d at least wake up in Idaho, and frankly, I don’t mind 2 1/2-hour drives surrounded by mountain vistas and horizons I have never experienced.