Biking, Fall, Fly Fishing, Hiking

Five Reasons to Love Fall in Sun Valley

“Best of all he loved the fall…the fall with the tawny and grey, the leaves yellow on the cottonwoods, leaves floating on the trout streams and above the hills the high blue windless skies.” 

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway wrote these poetic words in ecology to his friend and Sun Valley local Gene Van Guilder. They are often quoted when the long summer days wind down into a perfect fall in the mountains. 

Fall is Sun Valley’s secret season, that perfect time when the crowds have left yet the days are still warm. Here are some of our favorite things about fall in this mountain town.

The Experience is More Affordable

The time between summer and winter seasons is known locally as “slack.” It’s a quieter, mellower time in Sun Valley. Enjoy the luxury of easily finding a seat at your favorite coffee shop or grabbing a table on the Warfield Distillery rooftop without a wait. 

Many local businesses run “slack” specials; offering deals on dining, accommodations, and shopping. Keep tabs on the “Deals and Specials” page for updates or pick-up a Mountain Express newspaper to seek out the weekly ads.  

The Trails Are Calling

Trails in Sun Valley are never busy, but in the fall they take on an ethereal quality. Psyched locals are often the only people you’ll find on foot or mountain bike.

The buffed singletrack is prime after packing down under the wheels of thousands of summer bikers. Flow over the trail under the glow of bright yellow aspen trees and feel the crisp mountain air dry your sweat. 

Or, hit the trail on foot and hike into the high mountains before winter sets in. Watch the foliage change before your eyes as you climb in elevation, and perhaps catch a snowflake or two on your tongue.

Check out our Best Fall Hikes blog for an insider’s guide to the top trails to see the autum foilage. 

The Festivals Are Unique

You might expect the cultural experiences to slow once summer comes to an end, but not in Sun Valley. Our fall festivals are some of the best of the year.

Wagon Days, a non-motorized parade with the famous “Big Hitch,” kicks off the beginning of the fall season. Soon after the Trailing of the Sheep draws in crowds to watch thousands of sheep run down Main Street, as well to attend the Folklife Fair and Sheep Dog Trials in Hailey.

The Sun Valley Jazz Festival brings over 200 musicians to play a mix of jazz, Dixieland, swing and blues in late October. 

The Fish Are Hungry

Fall fishing in and around Sun Valley is excellent. The water is less crowded, allowing you to snag that prime spot on the water. Ample fall hatches ensure active fish and a chance to use some new flies.

River and stream flows in the fall are slower than in the spring and summer, making the water easy to navigate and encouraging the fish to concentrate in smaller areas.

The Leaves Put on a Show

Warm days and cool nights lead to a luminescent leaf show of yellow and orange. It’s not just leaves that change color around here, either. Larch, a mountain conifer, has needles that change to a brilliant orange as the temperature cools.

Drive north toward Galena Pass to see all stages of foliage in a single day. As the road climbs in elevation trees that were green in Sun Valley turn yellow and gold, and the leaves start to drop for winter the closer you get to the top of the Pass.

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