Nordic Skiing & Snowshoeing
Sun Valley has a well-deserved reputation for world-class alpine skiing, but is also known as “Nordic Town USA” for having the best Nordic ski terrain in the U.S. In fact, it’s so good, members of the Norwegian Olympic Nordic Ski Team come to the valley to train. Sun Valley has plenty to offer Nordic skiers and winter recreationalists of all ages and abilities, from over 200 miles of groomed trails and one of the country’s premier Nordic ski races, the 32k Boulder Mountain Tour, to plenty of other top-notch yet affordable recreational and cultural diversions.
Nordic ski trails in the Sun Valley area are open from mid-November to late April, depending on snowfall. Ski rentals, instruction, guided tours and other activities and services are offered by the Galena Lodge and the Nordic Center.
The winters are long here, consistently blanketed by that cold, dry snow that inspires making first tracks at dawn on the corduroy of freshly groomed trails. The backcountry is an endless landscape of near perfect powder bowls and the springtime brings corn snow till the summer flowers turn adventure in a different direction. The skiing experience in Sun Valley has always been top-notch and as time goes by it just keeps getting better. - NordicTownUSA.com
Sun Valley: Nordic Town, USA
Okay, we know this is a BIG claim for an area that started the whole destination ski resort business in the US back in 1936, invented the chairlift, and has built a stellar reputation over the past 74 years as one of the top alpine ski mountains and resorts in the world. But Sun Valley can also stake the claim as “Nordic Town USA.” Here’s why:
- The Trails. Sun Valley has one of the premier Nordic trail systems in the WORLD. Many venues, all groomed to the highest standard. A blend of community and public amenities like those from the Blaine County Recreation District and US Forest Service and ski resort facilities offered by Sun Valley Resort. High-end competition trails, beautiful point to point scenic trails, unlimited beginner terrain. Over 100km of these trails are also located on some of the most beautiful public lands in Idaho in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. We have significantly more trails per population base and geographic area than ANYWHERE in the country. Over 200km of groomed trails for a population of 20,000 residents. Trails include: SV Nordic Center – 30k, Lake Creek – 15k, Wood River Trails – 32k, The Harriman Trail – 32k, Galena System – 50k, Prairie Creek – 8k, Billy’s Bridge – 8k, North Fork – 4k, Quigley Nordic– 13k, Elkhorn – 10k.
- The Snow & Weather. Sun Valley has unmatched snow and weather conditions. Warm days, sunny skies and cold snow make this just another day in Nordic skiing paradise. New England and the Pacific Northwest get the rain, Alaska and the Midwest get the cold. In Sun Valley the average daily winter temp is 23 degrees and yes, it’s usually also sunny, which makes for incredibly consistent snow quality and very comfortable conditions.
- The People. A vibrant community of Nordic skiers and endurance sport enthusiasts. Thousands of Nordic ski trail pass holders who are probably the highest percentage of overall local population of any ski community in the country. All kinds of folks skiing all the time. People seeking serenity, people skiing for lifelong health, people skiing for social connections, people skiing to achieve the highest levels of competitive success. Our community really values all that is cross-country skiing. We have hundreds of volunteers who help with events, thousands of pass holders, great local instructors and some of the best ski racing talent in the US. In fact, four former US Nordic Ski Olympians call this area home.
- The Boulder Mountain Tour. This is one of the premier citizen Nordic ski races in the country. This event is one of the longest-running Nordic events in the US and is regularly recognized as one of the best-run races in the US, attracting nearly 1,000 racers each year, from elite world-class skiers to amateurs.
- Elite Level International Competitions/Training Programs. Sun Valley hosted the US Super Tour International Ski Race in 2005 and will bid to host US Super Tour Finals in March 2011 and 2012. The Norwegian Olympic Nordic Team has chosen Sun Valley as the place to hold their pre-Olympic Training Camps during the last two times the Winter Games have been in North America (2002 & 2010).
- World-Class Nordic Ski Facilities. The new 58,000-square-foot Sun Valley Nordic Center is a stunning log & glass architectural jewel and is easily the largest Nordic ski facility in the US. The historic Galena Lodge, once a part of a booming 1880s mining town north of Ketchum, was saved by the community and is a well-loved gem surrounded by the trails of the Sawtooth National Forest and managed by the Blaine County Recreation District. The area’s extensive backcountry yurt system, located in the Sawtooth, Boulder, and White Cloud Mountains, provides a great way to access the thousands of acres of wilderness terrain.
- Affordability. Over 32 kilometers of the Wood River Trail System managed by the Blaine County Recreation District are FREE to the public and groomed every other day. The rest of the valley’s trail system is accessible through very modest day pass ($15 and up) and season pass ($169 and up) fees. Youth 12 & and under ski free on the Blaine County Recreation District trails, over 160km of groomed cross-country and snowshoe trails.
- Top-Notch Local Nordic Ski Programs. The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) has been recognized as the Outstanding Nordic Club in the US for student athletes, and other programs like the VAMPS Nordic ski club for women provide first-class instruction by world-class skiers and friendly camaraderie for participants. Excellent professional instruction is also available through Sun Valley Nordic Center, Galena Lodge, and Blaine County Recreation District. VAMPS has become one of the largest continuous women’s Nordic ski training programs in the country, with over 140 participants annually. The coaching staff of 14 women boasts 2 Olympians, 4 US Ski Team members, 2 World Cup Skiers, a World Champion Mountain Biker and several other top local Nordic athletes.
- First-Rate Local Suppliers. Long-time, committed, and expert local businesses provide the very best in Nordic ski equipment, products, and service. These include The Elephant’s Perch, Backwoods Mountain Sports, Sturtevant’s Mountain Outfitters, and Sun Valley Resort.
- A Rich History. Nordic skiing in Sun Valley began in earnest back in the 1960s and the area has been growing some of the best cross-country skiers in the country ever since. Many of the current amenities today, like Galena Lodge, have a rich history anchored in mining.
- Best Off-Season Training Terrain. Sun Valley has tremendous assets for off-season training, especially with our bike path system for safe roller-skiing, hundreds of miles of trails, and excellent local fitness facilities.
Sun Valley Nordic Skiing in the Press
Take a look at what the magazines, newspapers, and other media are saying about nordic skiing in Sun Valley:
Sun Valley Nordic Champion: Morgan Arritola
Sun Valley is home to Nordic Olympic competitor, Morgan Arritola.