Day 1: Sun Valley is conveniently located in the heart of scenic Idaho. And there are plenty of things to do and see for travelers coming to Sun Valley from Montana and Salmon.
Salmon boasts the engaging Sacajawea Interpretive Center where you can walk through a primitive Indian village, see how Sacajawea’s people trapped fish and learn how the Indians tanned their hides.
Twenty-three miles south of Salmon near milepost 282 on US 93 is a short gravel road leading to Goldbug Hot Springs. A two-mile hike takes you up a desert canyon to an oasis of pools and waterfalls.
Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep on the cliffs across the river as you continue your drive down US 93.
The Land of the Yankee Fork Interpretive Center sits two miles south of Challis at the junction of US 93 and Idaho 75. You’ll get a feel for the rough life Idaho miners endured with the gold panning and other interpretive displays. Take the short interpretive walk outside to see the Challis Bison Jump. And pick up a free audio cassette tape that will describe attractions along the way to Sun Valley.
Seven miles past the intersection of US 93 and Idaho 75 south of Challis, Forest Service Road 51 takes you two short miles to the ghost town of Bayhorse. The mining town sits on private property but you can still view well-preserved relics of the past, including a stone Wells Fargo building, tram barn, saloon building, cabin with an earthen roof and a mill. And you can walk through beehive-shaped charcoal kilns where wood was burned non-stop to make charcoal for the smelter.
Day 2: The ghost towns of Bonanza and Custer are eight miles north of Sunbeam Dam on the Yankee Fork Road. Learn about the ghosts of the hardy immigrants who frequented these hills at the Boot Hill cemetery in Bonanza, peruse the old wooden backpack and teakwood opium pipes in the Custer schoolhouse museum, talk with costumed interpreters who roam among the Chinamen’s cabins and buy a candy stick or ice cream at the general merchandise store.
On your way out, check out the 1,110-ton Yankee Fork Dredge, which recovered millions of dollars of gold as it chewed its way through river gravel during the 1940s.
Sunbeam Hot Springs hugs the highway a mile west of Sunbeam Resort. Look for the historic bathhouse and interpretive signs.
No visit to Sun Valley would be complete without a stop at Redfish Lake, a beautiful glacial lake topped by the jagged Sawtooth Mountains four miles south of Stanley.
You can get an overview of the Sawtooth range atop 8,700-foot Galena Summit as you continue your drive south.The highway continues past the Boulder Mountains where Sun Valley homeowner Clint Eastwood filmed “Pale Rider” before dropping into Ketchum and Sun Valley.
Day 3: Cast your fly into the Big Wood River. Or head down to Silver Creek Preserve, clear water spring that attracts anglers from around the world.
Spend the rest of the day hiking to Pioneer Cabin, which sits in a cirque of jagged peaks. Or take an easier hike along the on the Fox Creek or Chocolate Gulch loops.
Come evening, put up your feet and let Company of Fools make you laugh at The Liberty Theater, the house that Bruce Willis and Demi Moore built in Hailey.
Day 4: No trip to Sun Valley would be complete without a drive north of Ketchum to the Galena Overlook, which offers a broad view of the Sawtooth Mountains, named for their resemblance to a saw. Go further, if you like, for a visit to the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery or a stop at Redfish Lake, a beautiful glacial mountain lake named for the red salmon that used to color the water.
Check out the Harriman Trail - a relatively easy wide mountain bike trail parallels the highway between The Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters and Galena Lodge. And the SNRA offers wildlife exhibits for those who wish to stop to look at maps.
Back in town try your aim shooting clay pigeons at the Sun Valley Gun Club. Check out the current art festival. Or, maybe you’d just like to spread out a blanket and look up at the starry, starry night...