Day 1: There’s no end to the things to do in Sun Valley. But …
Day 1: There’s no end to the things to do in Sun Valley. But getting there is half the fun.
Just west of Interstate 84 near the town of Malta is a scenic byway that takes motorists through the City of Rocks.
This granite stone village of hoodoos, arches and spires draws rock climbers from around the world, as well as hikers, mountain bikers, campers and history buffs intent on seeing the writings California Trail pioneers left behind in axle grease.
Northwest of the City of Rocks is the picturesque town of Oakley filled with historic buildings erected by Mormon pioneers who settled there in 1878.
Twin Falls boasts one of the Mormon Church’s newest temples, having opened in summer 2008.
The 1,500-foot Perrine Bridge, which crosses the Snake River, is the jumping off point for base jumpers around the world. And the Snake River Canyon was the site of daredevil Evel Knievel’s famous attempt in 1974 to rocket across the canyon on his motorcycle.
A few miles east of Twin Falls is Shoshone Falls, which has been called “the Niagara of the West.” The falls stand 212 feet tall—45 feet higher than Niagara—and are especially impressive in the spring before much of the Snake River’s runoff is diverted to irrigate farm fields.
Seventeen miles north of Shoshone are the Shoshone Ice Caves. Situated in lava fields created 2,000 years ago, this thousand-foot long lava tube maintains a temperature hovering around 30 degrees even when it’s 90 degrees outside.
Townspeople once collected ice here for 23 saloons and restaurants and stagecoach robbers once hid out here. Now tourists walk upon a wooden walkway over an ice floor.
In Hailey stop for a milkshake at Shorty’s in the EG Willis Building named for Actor Bruce Willis’ dad.
Demi Moore picked out the velvet maroon curtains in The Liberty Theater where the Company of Fools offer the Summer Fools Festival--three plays in repertory each July--in addition to their other plays.
And the Blaine County Historical Museum offers one of the largest political campaign button collections in the country, along with President McKinley’s “full dinner pail” and other fascinating items.
Eleven miles up the road is Ketchum, the gateway to your Sun Valley experience.
Hike up Baldy and breathe in the fresh mountain air as you gaze over the craggy mountains stretching off into the distance. Then ride the chair down for free.
Or, if you prefer, ride the chair up and hike down.
Try out your golf swing at Sun Valley’s new White Cloud’s course, which offers its own 360-degree views of the magnificent surroundings.
Check out the world’s first ski chairlift on Ruud Mountain, then learn more about Sun Valley’s historic ski legacy at the free Sun Valley/Ketchum Ski and Heritage Museum.
Peruse the work of artists from around the world in Ketchum’s many galleries.
Then enjoy a free symphony concert in Sun Valley’s new outdoor pavilion made with travertine imported from a Roman quarry. Or take in a free reggae or jazz concert at one of Ketchum’s parks.
The fun has only just begun....
Spend the afternoon in Ketchum’s galleries perusing the art of Picasso and other artists from around the world, beginning with the thought-provoking exhibits at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.
Stock up on the latest technology in hiking socks, water bottles and sportswear at the local outdoor shops, and load up on souvenirs at shops like Country Cousins, Sun Valley Gifts and T’s and Temptations.
Then, catch a dinner of Idaho rainbow trout locally raised lamb at followed by a concert in Ketchum’s Forest Service Park or the new Sun Valley Pavilion.
Morning is a great time to photograph the lavender lupine, yellow balsamroot and fiery red paintbrush. Check with the Ketchum Ranger District to see where the best blooms are, grab breakfast at any one of several delicious breakfast eateries and go.
See what it feels like to golf with your head in the clouds on Sun Valley’s new White Clouds golf course. Or, just practice your swing at the 18-hole Sawtooths putting course, which offers every angle you could want.
After a late lunch in the new Sun Valley Club, head into town to check out tall skinny ore wagons that used to haul lead and silver down the narrow Trail Creek Road. Learn about Sun Valley’s ski champions at the Sun Valley/Ketchum Ski and Heritage Museum, pay your respects to Ernest Hemingway at the Ketchum Cemetery, then head down to Hailey for a look at one of the nation’s largest political button collections at the Blaine County Historical Museum.
Take a spin on Sun Valley’s unique outdoor ice rink. Then run home and get your sweater to enjoy a buffet dinner and an ice show featuring some of the world’s best Olympic figure skaters twirling and bounding their way through hula hoops of fire.
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 Theatre, the house that Bruce Willis and Demi Moore built in Hailey.
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.
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...
On the way home:
If you like, you can take in some different sights on your way home.
Instead of heading down to Twin Falls, stay on U.S. 20 heading past Silver Creek Preserve, a crystal clear spring-fed stream that offers great canoeing, wildlife watching, hiking and world-class trout fishing.
East of Carey be sure to stop at the Visitors Center of Craters of the Moon National Monument where 40 years ago this year astronauts preparing to land on the moon visited this rugged landscape to get a feel for what the lunar landscape might be like.
Drive a 7-mile loop offering short hikes to bizarre formations of razor-sharp rock, climb an inferno cone and learn why the Craters are expected to erupt again any moment.
At Arco, take the road less traveled, following a county road opposite Pickle’s Place to Idaho’s Natural Bridge, an 80-foot-tall limestone arch on the shoulder of King Mountain.
Then follow US. 91 to Pocatello, a n outdoor enthusiasts’ haven bordered by American Falls Reservoir on one side and mountains rife with hiking and ski trails on the other sides.
Here you can experience Dutch oven cooking, wagon rides and buffalo herds at the Hart Ranch. Visit a cowboy bar and ride a mechanical bull and see if you’ve got what it takes to go the full eight seconds. Or, enjoy some authentic Greek cuisine—brought here with the railroad—downtown.
Observe bison and other native species at the Pocatello Zoo, which is the only one of its kind in the world. Test your luck at one of the two Indian gaming casino and see an example of wooden stockade trading post at the Fort Hall replica.
Head out of Pocatello on Interstate 15, being sure to stop at Lava Hot Springs, which offers swimming in its natural hot spring pools year-round, along with an Olympic Swimming Complex.
From there take the Oregon Trail/Bear Lake Scenic Byway through Soda Springs, which sports a geyser bursting with naturally carbonated water, as well as several historic buildings.
Continue along the byway to Montpelier where the National Oregon/California Trail Center utilizes film, paintings, historical displays and interpreters in period costume to help you ride in a computer-controlled covered wagon and walk the very wagon ruts that Oregon Trail pioneers once trod.
Before you head back into Utah, be sure and dip your feet in Bear Lake, which has been called the Caribbean of the Rockies for its turquoise blue water.