Sun Valley Idaho
Sun Valley is located in the Wood River Valley at the edge of the Sawtooth and Challis National Forests in South Central, Idaho. The cities of Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue together with the surrounding unincorporated areas make up Blaine County.
At an altitude of 5,750 feet, the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum have a mountain desert climate, with an average humidity of only 30%. The Wood River Valley averages 330 days of sunshine per year. Average summer temperature is 75 degrees and average winter temperature is 22 degrees, with an annual snowfall of 150-200 inches. The cities and towns of Blaine County are surrounded by mountains and valleys full of meadows, streams and alpine lakes.
History of Sun Vallley
Prior to 1880, The Wood River Valley was inhabited primarily by Indians and fur trappers. The discovery of ore in 1880 brought thousands to Ketchum, the Valley’s first settlement. The area soon became part of one of the richest mining districts in the Northwest. As a result of the mining boom, Union Pacific Railroad established a freight line (horse & mule) in the area to carry supplies into the mines and to return with the ore. In 1884 the horse & mule freight line was replaced by the railroad. By the early 1890’s the boom town was on the verge of a bust, the result of labor difficulties and declining silver prices.
In 1900 a new industry was emerging in Ketchum. sheepmen from the south were driving their herds through the town for summer grazing in the local valleys and mountains. By the 1920’s. Ketchum was the largest sheep and lamb shipping station in the United States. The Depression of the 1930’s, overgrazing and rising feed costs led to a decline in sheep ranching.
1936 was .the year that changed it all. Averell Harriman, then chairman of Union Pacific Railroad, wanted two things more than anything else in the world: (1) more business for his railroad. and (2) a world-class resort in America to enjoy what was then considered a European oddity: SKIING.
In January 1936, Harriman sent his Austrian friend, Count Felix Schaffgotsch to comb the mountains of the west in search of that perfect location. The Count found the perfect location, “[t]his is the place” in the Sawtooth Mountains near Ketchum. Idaho. Union Pacific Railroad purchased the Ernest Brass Ranch (3,300 acres) on May 14, 1936 for $39,000. Here, they created Sun Valley, primarily to attract passengers of the West to travel on the company’s streamlined trains to a destination ski resort featuring the world’s first chairlift.
Soon the film stars of Hollywood were flocking to Sun Valley in droves. eager to try the latest rage. skiing. was a smashing success – A Legend Was Born.
Sun Valley is now a premiere year-round. four season destination resort and recreation area. People who live and vacation in the Sun Valley/Ketchum area enjoy an enviable lifestyle. A “nontourist” atmosphere that is described as casual, comfortable and friendly. The Wood River Valley is a recreational paradise. with a “World-Class” alpine skiing mountain. blue-ribbon trout streams. superb golf courses plus spectacular mountains. forests and lakes. The lifeblood or industry bas,e of the local economy is TOURISM.
These activities and sports include Alpine and Nordic skiing. backcountry ski tours. helicopter skiing. ski racing and touring, horse-drawn sleigh rides. sledding. ice skating, semi-pro ice hockey, junior and adult amateur ice hockey, apres ski entertainment. music. health clubs. aerobics. modern and ballet dance, snowmobiling. gliding. dining. shopping. outdoor hot pools, art gallery touring and arts & crafts classes.
These activities and sports include white water rafting, kayaking, ice skating, ice shows, fly fishing, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, pack trips, camping, polo, rodeo, golf, tennis, music & ballet festivals, Wagon Days, Weekend Parade, Fourth of July Parade, fireworks, bicycling, bike racing, motocross, arts & crafts fairs, antique fairs, triathalon, shopping, dining, nightlife, wine auction, antique car auction, movie theaters, theater group, windsurfing, sailing, water skiing, art workshops, ballooning, swimming, hiking, hunting, scenic drives and ghost & mining town tours.
The abundance of outdoor recreational activities combined with a high quality of life has resulted in substantial growth.
Transportation to Sun Valley
For years Sun Valley has had a reputation for providing an incredible skiing experience but, also, for being a difficult place to reach. The competition in the ski resort marketplace has increased, with resorts like Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Jackson Hole and Park City offering easy transportation (direct flights) which attracts more skiers.
To boost and regain its competitive edge, Sun Valley Company created a two pronged attack: (1) 1988-89 ski season; A major facelift of the mountain which included three new high-speed quad chairlifts and recontouring of some ski runs and (2) 1989-90 ski season; an all-out transportation blitz which included new expanded direct air service, additional flight schedules and increased bus service from Boise Airport. On December 16, 1989, America West Airlines, in a joint venture with Sun Valley Company, began expanded direct jet air service to Friedman Memorial Airport (located in Hailey, approximately 10 miles south of Lane Ranch) from Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas. This service ended on March 30, 1990
Horizon Air is the other main carrier into the Sun Valley area offering direct turbo prop flights from Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Boise. Also, most national air carriers serve Sun Valley’s gateway cities of Salt Lake City, Boise, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls. Shuttle air and bus service to Sun Valley is available from these gateway cities.
The facelift. transportation blitz, and cooperative area wide marketing appear to be doing what they were intended to: bring additional tourists to the resort area during the ski season. More skiers came to ride the new quad chairlifts. And once they were exposed to the legendary mountain and the Wood River Valley’s quality of life, they were hooked and fell madly in love.
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