The greatest show on ice in the summertime has to be the Sun Valley Ice Show. We were fortunate enough to time our visit with Johnny Weir headlining the event. He was clearly the star of the show, but it’s all the performances that make the show so entertaining. Set on what could be considered the most beautiful outdoor rink in the U.S., under the cloudless, spectacular Idaho sky, it is hard to imagine seeing ice skaters perform at a higher, more artistic level than this. Not to be missed, and my girls were captivated.
Head north on Highway 75, up and over Galena Summit and back down into the Sawtooth National Forest. Along the stretch of 75 headed towards Stanley are a series of incredible high-mountain lakes. Back in the day :), I would take my yellow lab on all-day jaunts around these parts, taking in the spectacular terrain that makes up the Sawtooths. Petit, Alturas, Stanley and other smaller lakes are flanked by impressively tall and jagged rock. Everything is crisp from the sky to the air to the clear-water lakes.
We headed to the most well-known and developed of the lakes, Redfish. Redfish has a lodge on the opposite end of the Grand Mogul peak, with a restaurant and outdoor snack shack, a beach and access to several water-sports. There’s hiking and biking, of course, as well as several campsites that get snapped up the minute they become available. It’s not where you go to get away from it all, but it’s a great way to enjoy the incredible scenery and have access to indoor plumbing. Sadly, we couldn’t stay long enough for the live music, but we’ll be back.
I can’t emphasize enough how much I enjoy being close to River Run. We walked to this base village of Sun Valley Ski Resort pretty much every other day we’ve been here. It’s obvious why the proximity is so great in the winter, but the summer recreation opportunities are abundant as well.
River Run is the starting point for some great hiking and biking. One of my favorite hikes is heading up the Bald Mountain Trail to the Overlook. It’s a solid 1,000 feet in climb and a good workout when done in as quick a tempo as possible. At the Overlook is a plaque reading, “They want’d t’ call th’ town Leadville, but the’ govrn’mnt said there was too many already. So they settled for Ketchum and I’m right proud they did. After all, I built th’ first cabin here back in ’79…Course th’ way th’ silver’s runnin’out, might not matter what th’ town’s name is anyhow.” Can’t beat the view from the Overlook. From the River Run base is also the terrific River Run trail which is open to up and down mountain bike traffic as well.
Biking, both mountain and road, is easily accessible from River Run as the paved, multi-use Wood River Trail runs right out front. So, we headed to Pete Lanes at the base of River Run, rented bikes (and did some shopping – there’s no better time to buy ski stuff than in the summer – can you say 50% off?). The Wood River Trail connects to the Sun Valley Trail (Elkhorn/Ketchum Loop), or continues on for 20 miles all the way down to Bellevue. We headed towards Hailey as far as we thought the girls could handle and turned back. The paved, private, safe trail is unmatched.
The gondola runs from the base of River Run to the Roundhouse Lodge (serving guests a delicious lunch since 1939). We took it just for that, but many folks take it to the Roundhouse to begin their hike or mountain-bike the top of the mountain. The Christmas Chair runs during the summer as well, so anyone can get to the top of the mountain.
River Run is also where you touch down if you’re brave enough to paraglide from the top of Baldy. Not me for sure, but my 8-year-old begged to go, and the Fly Sun Valley rep at the bottom of the mountain said they had a 7-year-old earlier in the day.
On the weekends, there are two yoga classes. The Bigwood River runs right by the Lodge, and there’s typically a fly fisherman or two on either side of the bridge. And lastly, there’s the spider bungee jump (a big favorite of the kids – yes, we bought a multi-use package.
Sadly, this year we’ll miss Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris and Lake Street Dive, who are all playing concerts at the River Run base on the grass. Next year we’ll plan a little better.
Lots to do; a tremendous source of recreation for the whole family.
When summer in Sun Valley, you mountain bike. Mountain biking is to summer what skiing is to winter. It is athletic, thrilling, and beautiful. Sun Valley offers some of the premier mountain biking trails in the country. The Sun Valley area boasts more than 400 miles of single-track. I can’t wait to contribute so much more to the mountain biking experience of this region in this blog. But, I’m surrounded by mountain biking novices, including my wife and two daughters, so I’ve got to break them in, show them the magic, show them that when you conquer a single-track trail that all you can think of is ‘what’s next?’.
A good friend suggested I take the girls to Galena Lodge. The Blaine County Recreation District is in the process of adding 47 miles of new trails that offer something for everyone, including my beginner riders. We all rented mountain bikes at the Galena bike shop and set out on a trail called Lodge Loop. Even this beginner trail caused white-knuckle riding from my youngest, but she persevered and we conquered several laps on the Loop, her taking pride in not having to stop for long stretches. After dropping the kids at the Lodge for grilled-cheese sandwiches on the deck, I took Barb out to Galena View Loop to Senate Meadows Loop to Pioneer Cemetery Loop. She loved it. Mild, meandering single-track biking through open meadows and dense woods, allows you to take it easy or let it rip. I can’t wait to get back to try out the rest of the Galena trail system. And, to my great surprise, neither can the girls.
Summer in Sun Valley means spending time on a river. Today we ventured north on Highway 75, beyond Stanley, to a small enclave called Sunbeam, home to White Otter Outdoor Adventures. The drive is about 75 miles, and done at the right time (we traversed early a.m. for our 9:30 a.m. start) offers some of the most incredible views of American wilderness.
The Sawtooth Range stands majestically above the town of Stanley and offers an amazing backdrop as the highway winds the Salmon River. There are beautiful mountains lakes along the way (Redfish, Alturas, Pettit) which I hope to cover in future posts.
We parked at the White Otter cabin and proceed to the Sunbeam Cafe for some freshly baked cinnamon roles and coffee. We met our guide, Amanda, who epitomizes the young female adventurist serving as a great role model for my girls. Amanda is a rock-climbing, back-country skiing, kayaking, outdoors enthusiast who spends the summer in a tent along the Yankee Fork that feeds the Salmon.
The half-day excursion covers a ten-mile stretch of the Salmon River, floating thru several Class II rapids and two Class III rapids (Piece of Cake and The Narrows). The pictures attached capture our jaunt thru Piece of Cake. Overall, the trip is fun, beautiful and relatively mild for a whitewater trip; the perfect intro for rafting novices. Needless to say, my oldest daughter is pining for more Class IIIs and the move up to Class IVs. Everyone had a ball, and hopefully we’ll be venturing back soon to find more excitement on Idaho’s whitewater.