Friday, August 14, 2020
Sun Valley Resort Gives Dogs a Lift
Bellevue resident Anne Jeffery disembarks with a black lab named Shiloh after hiking up to the Roundhouse Restaurant.
Friday, August 9, 2019


It’s been known as Sun Valley’s Roundhouse Gondola since its inception.

And it’s ferried many a skier, hiker, mountain biker and even the occasional baby stroller up the mountain.

But there’s something new afoot this summer, as evidenced by the parade of dachshunds, standard poodles, miniature schnauzers and the ubiquitous black lab getting on and off the gondola.

Sun Valley Resort sells lift passes for dogs who want them with the money benefitting Mountain Humane.

Yes, Sun Valley Resort has gone to the dogs. In fact, the resort has rechristened its gondola the Dogondola this summer.

“Sun Valley Resort decided to give it a trial run this year because so many people hike with their dogs,” said Kelli Lusk, the resorts communications manager.

There is no charge for the dog to ride the gondola to the Roundhouse Restaurant, even though two-legged creatures must buy a pass. But dog owners may purchase Sun Valley lift passes for their dogs, picture included, for $10 with the money going to Mountain Humane animal welfare campus in Hailey.

“My dogs wear theirs with pride—it shows they’re Sun Valley dogs,” said Jen Barth, who is mom to Penny, Pippy, Posie and Paulie.

Roundhouse Restaurant Waiter Michal Orvisky loves greeting dogs with bowls of water.

“Taking the dogs on the gondola is another fun thing to do with your dog,” she added. “First time they go on, they’re a little skeptical—they run on really fast. But my dogs love it. We hike up to the top of the mountain, then down to the Roundhouse where we catch the gondola, and then they go home and pass out after such an exciting adventurous day.”

There is no charge for either human or dog to ride the gondola down the mountain and that’s what many Wood River Valley residents do.

Among them: Molly and Steve Brown, who take their two standard poodles—one 1.5 years old and the other 10 months—hiking with them.

“I like hiking up but not down because I’ve got bad knees. So absolutely I like the fact that I can hike with my dogs without stressing my knees,” said Steve Brown. “The dogs? They’re just happy to go on a hike.”

Shiloh loves watching the scenery go by from the gondola. But she can’t resist a captive audience of petters--Paula Perry, Carol Monteverde and Anne Jeffery--during the nine-minute ride.

Those who want to stop for salads, soups and sandwiches are invited to let their dogs sit with them while they eat on the deck of the historic Roundhouse Restaurant built in 1939. Dogs are not allowed inside the restaurant unless they’re service dogs.

But Roundhouse waiters are quick to greet even deck dogs with white towels dangling from their wrists and a big bowl of cool water.

“We bring their bowl and they’re oh so nice,” smiled Michal Orvisky, a waiter from Slovakia.

Dogs who don’t want to wait for liquid refreshment on the deck are not slighted. Each day lift operators place two large tubs of fresh water near the gondola’s exit point. And, dogs seemingly have no trouble reading the large print on the side of the tubs, which say “For Dogs,” because they all make a beeline for them.

Ketchum resident Molly Brown gets ready to hike to the Bald Mountain Trail to the gondola with one of her standard poodles.

“My dog Dudley loves the gondola,” said Paula Perry, who co-owns Perry’s Restaurant. “Of course, he’d probably say, ‘Feed me bacon and I’ll follow you anywhere!’”

Just as there is with skiing, there is a responsibility code for dogs and their owners.

  • Dogs may hike unleashed under voice control, but they must remain leashed while traveling inside the gondola.
  • While they are allowed in the gondola, they are not allowed on the open Christmas chairlift that takes hikers and bikers from the gondola to the top of Baldy.
  • Owners are asked to carry water for their dog, as there is no natural water on the trail.
  • They’re asked to pick up dog waste and dispose it in the bins provided.
  • And they’re asked not to let their dogs jump on people or other dogs or chase maintenance vehicles.

Visitors to Sun Valley have happily taken advantage of the new liberties extended dogs. Among them, Boiseans Andy and Shannon Erstad, who recently rode the gondola to the Roundhouse and hiked down the trail from there with two fellow friends and their dogs Fenn and Rory.

“It’s really easy to get on and off with them,” said Shannon Erstad.

“And it gives us something we can do with our dogs when we come over here,” said Andy Erstad.




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