When it comes to winter fun, there are few places that offer easier access to a wider variety of activities than Sun Valley and the nearby Sawtooth Mountains. Home to the first ski resort and destination lodge in America, the first chair lifts in the world, and famously dry Idaho powder, Sun Valley has been a top winter destination for celebrities and dignitaries since 1936.
Given the history and reputation of the resort, it can be easy to overlook adventure opportunities that are available within 30 minutes of the resort town of Ketchum. World-class cross-country skiing courses, family friendly and photo worthy snowshoe adventures, great fat bike trails around town, incredible backcountry touring, heli-skiing, and a wide array of lodging and outfitter options are all easy to find. You can get a lot done in a long weekend here and maybe try out some new sports you haven't experienced in the meantime.
An easy way to knock the travel rust off your bones and get acquainted with the area is to grab the fat bikes and jump on the Wood River Trail. The free network of trails can take you to all corners of Ketchum, alongside the ski resort, up toward Sun Valley Lodge and its Nordic Center, and even down to the town of Hailey. There are a ton of options to rent bikes from an outfitter in town and ride directly to the trail, or you can skip the bike and cross-country ski the route or walk on-foot with your dogs!
In the evening, consider a sunset snowshoe at the gorgeous Billy's Bridge. Located north of Ketchum on the way toward Galena Pass, this beautiful trail leads along the Big Wood River and under beautiful peaks in the foothills of the Sawtooths. The well-marked and relatively easy trail is perfect to catch the sunset from the end of the loop while enjoying a hot beverage.
Time to try something that you will never forget. Backcountry skiing in the Sawtooths doesn't get any easier than from the Galena Summit. The skin track ascends right from the road and gives you many runs with a variety of terrain below. At 8,720 feet, the road is highest in the Northwest and gives you solitude and a ton of options right out of the gate. You could lap the area to your heart's delight and easily find fresh lines several days after storms. The views are incredible and cost much less than buying a pass at the resorts. Full touring gear is readily available for rent in Ketchum at many different outfitters.
Finish your trip to the area with something you might not have ever tried but always wanted to. The cross-country skiing in Sun Valley is world renowned, and their namesake Nordic Center does it right. Plenty of green, blue and black routes give everyone terrain to enjoy. Cruising along the many bridges and crossings of the Trail Creek Loop is a charming end to your stay in Ketchum.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to where to stay, where to eat, and where to rent gear. Checking reviews and prices online can really help narrow down the multitude of choices. Ketchum has modern and large hotels like the Limelight, classic lodges such as Sun Valley, and condos near the ski resort like Pennay's at River Run to name a few.