Trip Report    

Global Adventure - Nordic Ski in Idaho's Iconic Sun Valley

Experience the pleasure of cross country skiing in wonderful winter conditions in nearby Sun Valley, Idaho.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Sun Valley's  Blaine Country Recreational District (BCRD) has an expansive system of groomed cross-country ski trails  just north of Ketchum and all of the way to Galena Lodge, a Nordic Center and ski park 25 miles north on HWY 75. The BCRD maintains or supports the maintenance of 10 Nordic trail systems in the area. They appear to have new and state of the art grooming machines to keep all of the trails on a regular winter grooming schedule. The BCRD offers a variety of x-c ski terrain from easy to challenging. The Harriman Trail connects 30 km of easy and intermediate BCRD trails between Ketchum and Galena if one is looking for one long continuous ski. The more challenging black ski trails are found at the Galena Nordic Ski Park and a few at Sun Valley Nordic Center.

    In mid-February we found the  BCRD Cross Country trail system very well groomed, perfect snow conditions, lots of sunshine with variable daily temperatures (cold mornings and warmer afternoons), spectacular views, and dry and clear roads.


    Cindy talking with the friendly groomer originally from Tacoma.



Sun Valley/Ketchum should be on every cross-country skier's bucket list! Easily accessible by plane or car from Western WA. It is a 1.5 hour flight (if weather conditions are good, and they do not reroute the plane to Twin Falls or Boise) or an approx. 11 hour drive in good road conditions. Our x-c ski party of nine stayed in a large VRBO set up for skiers in between town and Galena Lodge.

The pristine BCRD groomed trail system requires a paid daily trail pass, and it is set up for classic track or skate skiing. The cold mornings warmed up by noon so dressing in layers is needed. BCRD X-C Trail Maps are found at Nordic ski shops in Ketchum, Sun Valley Nordic Center (aka golf course with stunning mountain views and a lovely ski trail)  and at Galena Lodge. The entire trail system  is well marked, and there is either a  ski map or good signage at most ski trail junctions. Ski Trail Etiquette is  promoted through the area on the BCRD website and some trail head signage resulting in trails that are in excellent shape (no post holes, snowshoe tracks, or bike tread), and skiers who utilize best trail practices.   There is  an approx. 2,000 ft. of elevation gain between Ketchum and Galena Ski Park. Ketchum sits at about 5,900 ft and a few of Galena more demanding trails are at about 8,200 ft.

All of the BCRD Trails have fabulous mountain and/or river views on either side of the long valley. There are great views of both the Sawtooth Range and Boulder Mountains, and the Harriman Trail follows along the Wood River for the most part. Moose and coyote roam the area. We had one moose sighting, and several skiers saw a pair of coyotes romping in the snow.

Each day we skied between 9-13 miles  and spent between 5-6 hours on the trail.  We lunched either on the side of the trail or ate at one of the two lovely Nordic lodges, the Galena Lodge or the Sun Valley Nordic Center in town.

The BCRD Trail System is conveniently located north of Ketchum, right off of HWY 75. Cross Country ski pullouts and/or parking lots can be found at each trail head. There was plenty of parking spaces, and it was never too crowded anywhere.

Some of the highlights of the trip were skiing a few of the black runs at both Galena Ski Park and Sun Valley Nordic Ski Center and driving about 40 miles out of town, over Galena Summit at 8,700 ft in elevation, to ski the lovely Alturas Lake Trails on the other side of the pass. Galena Lodge, with its handsome rustic ambiance, is a great place to eat lunch, inside or out, with a menu that fits anyone's dietary lifestyle.

The one negative: The week we chose was Winter Break for the Seattle area schools. Therefore, the AK Airlines flight was packed with downhill skiers, kids,  and  bulky downhill luggage.  Because it was a full flight with lots of heavy luggage, the plane was overweight. Therefore, the airlines removed some luggage. Consequently,  two of us did not receive our suitcases until 9 pm the first night. They were delivered to our VRBO; and a third skier did not receive her ski bag for 3 days. AK Airlines did provide the skier with a voucher for ski rental.  Very disappointing.

Cross Country skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho will not disappoint a x-c skier enthusiast!