In one of Idaho's most stunning natural locations sits a piece of ski history. Sun Valley was the first purpose-built ski resort in the US, hand-picked by Union Pacific Railroad scion William Averell Harriman (after an exhaustive search) in the 1930s and publicized by numerous members of the then glitterati such as Ernest Hemingway, Clark Gable and Gary Cooper. When Sun Valley opened in 1936 it sported the world's first chairlift and a showcase 'parkitecture' lodge that still acts as its premier resort.
In the years since, Sun Valley has kept its swanky Hollywood clientele and extended its facilities to include the legendary Bald Mountain, yet it remains a refined and pretty place (no fast-food joints or condo sprawl here). Highly rated nationwide, the resort is revered for its reliable high-quality snow, large elevation drop and almost windless weather. Backing it up is adjacent village Ketchum, 1 mile away, which predates Sun Valley and has held onto its authenticity and rustic beauty despite the skiing deluge. Ketchum is prime territory for fishing and hunting in summer, a fact borne out by its famous former resident, Ernest Hemingway.