This Mountain Resort Serves Up A Bucket-List Of Novel Adventures.
Since its opening in 1936, Sun Valley has been known for being the first winter destination resort in America, site of the world’s first mountain chairlift, home of Ernest Hemingway, favorite visiting spot for Hollywood celebrities and—81 years later in 2017—a place where Utahns can find adventure less than a five-hour drive away.
What is collectively known as Sun Valley generally refers to the resort by that name (1 Sun Valley Road, 800-786-8259, SunValley.com), as well as the neighboring towns of Ketchum and Hailey, all of which sit on the edge of Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest and offer a variety of recreation options. While Sun Valley earned its well-known reputation as a winter destination, many Utahns know its summer offerings provide outstanding outdoor adventures along with cool mountain air.
Rising more than 3,400 feet above Ketchum and Sun Valley, Bald Mountain—or “Baldy”—is one extraordinary peak. Here you’ll find a multitude of summer trails for hiking and biking. Enclosed gondolas and chairlifts carry you to various points on the mountain to launch your adventure. All you have to do is figure out what kind of hike or ride you want and for how long. If you didn’t bring a bike, stop by Pete Lane’s Village Bike Shop (208-622-2279, firstname.lastname@example.org) at Sun Valley Mall, where you can rent cruiser-style pathway bikes and mountain bikes. They also offer while-you-wait tuning service for your own bike, along with parts and accessories. After burning some calories on the mountain, make time to fuel up—with a panoramic view—at the Roundhouse Lodge (208-622-2012, email@example.com), perched atop the Roundhouse Gondola on Baldy.
Slap on some sunscreen and lace up your skates to glide outdoors on the 180-by-90-foot Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink (208-622-2194, firstname.lastname@example.org), which boasts some of the best views in the valley. The rink stays open during the summer and offers free skate time along with a full-service skate shop. The acclaimed Sun Valley on Ice opens July 2 and runs select Saturday nights through Labor Day featuring top Olympic and professional figure skaters. Check into the option of having a gourmet buffet-style dinner rink-side while watching the show (208-622-2135, SunValley.ticketfly.com).
Right on Target
If you’ve ever wanted to try target shooting—but have no idea how to get started—the Sun Valley Gun Club (208-622-2111, email@example.com) will turn you into a straight shooter. Book a lesson for up to five people with a certified instructor to learn about shooting clay and trap. They will provide all the equipment you need.
Music Under the Stars
Take advantage of the comfortably cool mountain nights with a concert at the Sun Valley Pavilion (Sun Valley Resort, 300 Dollar Road, 208-622-2135, SunValley.com). The 1,500-seat arena is covered but open air. Or, just bring a blanket and sit on the grass hill that rises above the pavilion. Concerts range from classical to contemporary, some of which are free (you can look up events at SunValley.com/things-to-do/events-calendar).
Eat It Up
Whether you’ve biked, hiked or skated the day away, you’re going to be ready to eat in the evening. When locals have visiting friends and family, they take them to “The Pio,” or Pioneer Saloon (320 N. Main, Ketchum, 208-726-3139, PioneerSaloon.com). Sitting in a building that opened in the 1940s as a casino, The Pio is noted for its steaks that come with a baked potato so big and loaded you’ll have no doubt that Idaho is the potato capital of the world. A popular item is the “Jim Spud,” a giant baked potato stuffed with teriyaki prime rib.
Sitting 1.5 miles east of the resort, Trail Creek Cabin (Trail Creek Road, 208-622-2800, SunValley.com/dining) offers a rustic atmosphere that feels a million miles away and dates back to 1937. During the winter, it’s a great place to take a sleigh ride and get dinner. During the summer, it’s just the spot for sitting out on the deck, sharing small plates of salmon cakes and chorizo-stuffed mushrooms and enjoying a drink while watching the waters of Trail Creek roll by.
While bursting with summer activities and family fun, Sun Valley also offers the wilderness and quietude that Ernest Hemingway sought out in which to fish and hunt. It’s just the place for reconnecting with your inner novelist or fisherman, whatever your bent happens to be.
Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin host the Travel Brigade Radio Show. Follow them on Twitter @TravelBrigade.