Discover some of our favorite activities in Sun Valley, Idaho, as they happen by day and night. Photographs by Ian C. Bates Written by Gulnaz Khan
The charming resort city of Sun Valley in central Idaho offers something for every type of adventurer. Spend warm summer days hiking wildflower-filled trails and biking scenic mountain paths, and brisk nights bowling at the lodge or sipping whiskey at the pub. As the leaves turn golden and frost settles over the valley, ski, snowboard, and ice-skate by day, and cozy up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa for a relaxing evening.
Hike or horseback ride up Dollar Mountain to watch Sun Valley’s magical landscape transform as the sun goes down. During the day rolling clouds cast the wild scene in light and shadow. As the evening sky darkens into denim, Ketchum’s speckled streetlights create a glittery display.
Painters spend the afternoon capturing the Sun Valley’s sweeping landscape, immortalizing its golden grasses, evergreen trees, and layered mountains on canvas. In the evening, spectators can view nature through an artist’s eyes with a visit to the Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, which features artists like Michael Gregory.
A great day in Sun Valley begins and ends on Main Street, which offers an eclectic array of boutiques and restaurants for all tastes. Start the day with a steaming cup of joe at Lizzy’s Fresh Coffee, and return in the evening for some hand-tossed pizza, cold beer, and football at Whiskey Jacques.
Fly fishers cast their lines into the rushing waters of the Big Wood River, which stretches 137 miles through central Idaho. Even if you don’t hook a trout, you can still sink a ball during a late night a game of pool at Casino bar in Ketchum.
The early morning sun shines over the rolling meadows, lodgepole forests, and Boulder Mountain Range along the 19-mile Harriman Trail. After a day of mountain biking, give your legs a rest with a windows-rolled-down drive back to town, and watch the mountains transform as night settles over Bald Mountain.
Paragliders satisfy their thirst for adventure on Bald Mountain’s ivory slopes underneath cotton-white clouds. Down the mountain, patrons of the cozy Sun Valley Lodge get their heartbeats going with a spirited game of bowling in one of the Northwest’s oldest alleys.
Bathers luxuriate the day away in one of the area’s plentiful natural hot springs, which reach piping temperatures of 124ºF. Continue your aquatic adventures at night with a dip in the heated pool at the Sun Valley Lodge.
Skaters glide across the outdoor ice rink at the Sun Valley Lodge, admiring the mountainous backdrop. After a day on the ice, grab a hot cocoa and gaze into the star-speckled sky.