9 Off Mountain Winter Activities to do in Sun Valley, Idaho
Words & Photos: Sara Sheehy
Sun Valley is a mecca for the alpine skier or snowboarder: epic vertical decent, uncrowded trails and brilliant blue skies. But don’t be tricked into thinking the mountain is the only place to spend a winter day. We’ve compiled nine winter activities for a perfect day off the slopes.
Strap on a Pair of Snowshoes: Strap on a pair of snowshoes in Sun Valley and the winter wonderland will be transformed into your oyster. Check out the trails at Galena Lodge or the Sun Valley Nordic Center for a taste of winter wonderland. Packed trails not your style? Blaze your own path in a side canyon (check out Lake Creek and Eagle Creek) or gain elevation in the foothills of the Boulder Mountains north of Ketchum. Snowshoe rentals are available at most gear shops in downtown Ketchum, as well as at Sun Valley Resort and Galena Lodge. Check in with the Sawtooth Avalanche Center before heading out.
Cheer on the Sun Valley Suns: Join the voracious local crowd cheering on the Sun Valley Suns hockey team. Champions of the Black Diamond Hockey League for the 2015-2016 season, the Suns match up with teams from other ski towns at the new Campion Ice House in Hailey. Get to the game early for a good parking spot, a seat, and pint of beer from Sawtooth Brewery. Check the 2016/2017 schedule here.
Pedal Powder: While Sun Valley is a mountain biker’s remedy for the single track deficit disorder (STDD), why let the cure stop once the snow falls? Grab a fat bike and check out the snow biking trails at the Sun Valley Nordic Center and newly opened Bigwood Sports Park. If commuting is more your style, hop on the Wood River Trail for a flat, groomed trail that runs up and down the valley. Fat bike rentals are available at many gear shops in Ketchum.
Explore the Backcountry on Sled: Feel the rush of wind on your face as you ride a snow machine deep into the Idaho backcountry. With hundreds of miles of groomed trails and open backcountry bowls open to snowmobiles, there is something for every sled enthusiast. Check out the opportunities at Baker Creek north of Ketchum, in Fairfield south of Bellevue, and over Galena Pass in the Stanley Basin. New to sledding? Hop on a guided tour at Smiley Creek Lodge in Sawtooth City. Not all areas are open for off trail travel, so check the regulations before you head out.
Push and Glide: The Sun Valley area has over 200 kilometers of groomed cross country ski trails. Whether you classic or skate ski, you’ll find ample opportunity to cruise through the forest, over fast open trails and on scenic loops. The popular Harriman Trail, north of Ketchum, leads to an extensive cross country trail system at Galena Lodge. In Sun Valley, the Sun Valley Nordic Center boasts well groomed trails for every ability. Rentals are available at Galena Lodge, the Sun Valley Nordic Center and at the Elephant’s Perch in Ketchum.
Cast a Line: It’s a disorienting sight to see fly fishermen casting their lines over the Big Wood River as you lug your ski gear across the bridge at River Run. Be brave and cast a line with them. The Big Wood River is open for fishing throughout the winter months (be sure to check the catch limits and seasonal restrictions). Hire a guide from one of the many local fishing shops or go it alone. Be sure to dress warm!
Pack the Hot Cocoa and Hit the Skating Rink: Grab a set of skates, tape a pillow to your bottom, and bring your good humor for an afternoon of ice skating. The year-round outdoor rink at Sun Valley Lodge is a must for every Sun Valley visitor. With skate rentals, music, and a fully stocked bar nearby, you can’t go wrong. Another option is the free Christina Potters Ice Rink at Atkinson Park in Ketchum. A pile of community-donated skates and hockey gear is free to use. When in Hailey, be sure to check out the new Campion Ice House’s open skating hours.
Take a Magical Sleigh Ride: For an experience straight out of a fairy tale, book a horse drawn sleigh ride. Sun Valley Resort offers both hour-long scenic sleigh rides and the chance to take a sleigh to your dinner reservation at Trail Creek Cabin.
Stay Warm, Stay Awesome: Sometimes being out of the snow and out of the cold, is exactly what the day calls for. Don’t worry, we have you covered.
Artsy Afternoon: Tour local art galleries for a taste of western, contemporary and modern art. Check out the list of galleries in Ketchum and Sun Valley.
Shoot an Arrow: Try your hand at shooting a bow and arrow in Hailey’s Flight Archery Studio, an indoor archery arena on Main Street.
Go Shopping: Local retailers keep their shops warm and cozy for the winter season. From designer clothing and home decor to books and thrifty finds, there’s plenty of shopping to be done. Check out the Sun Valley Shopping Guide.
Throwback Bowling: For an experience that’s hard to replicate, head to the historic Bowling and Game Room in Sun Valley Lodge. Revamped with the Lodge’s recent remodel, but still maintaining its vintage charm, a round of bowling is sure to keep the family happy on a chilly day.
Now that we’ve given you our 9 Off Mountain Winter Activities in Sun Valley, we want to hear any that we may have missed! Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org