Sun Valley

Surrounded by five major mountain ranges, the Sawtooths, White Clouds, Boulders, Pioneers, and Smoky Mountains, the Sun Valley area boasts easy access to unlimited backcountry terrain. With no major population base to track up the snow, this is a worthy spot for any die-hard to call home. Factor in Bald Mountain (aka Baldy), a beauty of a ski hill rising more than 3,000 feet directly above the town of Ketchum, and what you have is a skier’s paradise. Ski heritage runs deep here—the first chairlift in the world, the first destination ski resort in the U.S., the original home of SMITH and Scott USA, the epicenter of American freestyle skiing in the early '70s, and the birthplace of POWDER Magazine all add to the lore of this legendary location. With its storied past and endless mountains, people are drawn here for the right reasons, creating a community that is committed to the mountain lifestyle. Sun Valley is made up of a cool mix of pros, aging legends, entrepreneurs, complete burnouts, trust funders, and plenty of blue collar ski families. These characters are standard in most ski towns, but here they can all be seen hanging out together with a beer in the parking lot after another classic day on Baldy. It is this unpretentious attitude toward each other and visitors that make Sun Valley one of the best places to be a skier. —Gabe Schroder