When you hear of a ski hill with 475 feet vert and serviced by a single Poma lift you might not get your hopes high for a great ski experience but let me tell ya, next time I’m in Hailey, Idaho I’m 100% returning to Rotarun aka “The little mountain with a big heart.”

First opened in 1948, Rotarun has been operating in Idaho’s Wood River Valley for an 78 years. It is what it is, it’s a tiny ski hill in a secluded valley with a surface lift that you can pretty much wrap your mind around from parking lot but the experience is so much more. It’s kinda the opposite of the glitz and glamour of a certain resort down the road and we loved it for that very reason.

I enjoyed a decidedly sporty night of skiing with non-stop hot laps up the Poma till my legs were barking before pulling up to the taco truck for a plate of delicous carne asada and tallboy PBR. If you really want to get a vibe for what Rotarun is all about and what it means for the community, just hang around the base for bit and chat up some locals around the firepit. Mostly hardworking folks who don’t give a hoot that there’s no gondola or VIP parking. Just skiers looking to get turns with their families and friends at reasonable price (it’s actually free to ski Wednesday nights if you can believe that.)

Popped into the lodge afterwards and met the unofficial president of Rotarun, this funny little creature named Midge who has full run the building, often posting up on the tables to get a better view of all the on hill action.

Midge was kind enough to introduce me to Wally Limburg who is serves as the volunteer president of Rotarun. Got to chatting with Wally and quickly gained an appreciation for what makes this place so special. If you just scratch the surface you realize they basically operate just to help kids.

The difference between the haves and the have nots can be stark in a place like Hailey where well heeled folks come to live out their best lives in the tranquility of a mountain town and the low income folks work around the clock just to get by. Growing up in a town where the mountains are always in sight but very much out of reach can be tough on a kid and Rotarun is on mission to make skiing accessible to children no matter what they can afford.

Not gonna lie, got a bit emotional when I learned the details on the Rota-Rippers program which offers tuition-free skiing and snowboarding to the historically marginalized youth in the area. Rota-Rippers is designed to “teach the skills that build confidence, courage, and a lifelong pursuit of winter recreation.” It’s 100% FREE to participants and gives kids the chance to experience the sport that we love so much. HELL YEAH!!!

Just when Wally was heading out the door to take a few runs I ran into the Mountain Manager Riley Berman (humored to be the best fly fisherman in the valley) who comes from the world of ski racing and let me know that besides maintaining the regular groomed slopes, he can morph the lookers right side of the mountain from a bumps and jumps course with a airbag landing to a full on boilerplate GS setup nearly overnight to accommodate race teams who looking to get some training in before comps.

Oh yeah, that’s something unique about this place as well, just like a college race team, you too can rent the entire mountain for 2.5 hour blocks for $500 (approx 50 skier limit). Rumor has it a big time ski resort down the road has hosted its employee party at Rotarun for the past few years and it has been a blast.

To make a long story short Rotarun is well worth checking out and if you can afford it, donating directly will help get local kids out on the hill (DONATE HERE) If you do end up skiing at Rotarun pop into the lodge and tell Midge we say what up.


To provide an affordable and inclusive ski area that celebrates wintersport and mountain town culture through accessibility and community outreach.


To define and establish a small mountain’s role in the wintersport ecosystem by focusing on delivering exceptional programming, community-inspired events, and partnerships that elevate the quality of life in the Wood River Valley.


  • RESPECT and celebrate our heritage
  • Make decisions through INCLUSION
  • Embrace and welcome COMMUNITY
  • Grow JOY through fun and learning

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