The Memorial Day weekend is upon us and with it, the promise of endless sunny days filled with, well, whatever makes you happy. Sun Valley summers are rife with possibility, whether your tastes tend to climbing mountains, biking single track, swinging at tennis or golf balls, sunbathing, stargazing … the possibilities truly are endless.
For my family, summer is all about being outside. When, in late June, the sun rises at 6 a.m. and sets at 10 p.m., there is time to indulge in everything that makes the season so memorable.
After much consideration and heated debate around the dining room table, here is a list of the top five activities that define our Sun Valley summers. It would have been easy to name 50, but the winners are:
My favorite way to enjoy the wilderness and scenic beauty of the Wood River Valley, the Sawtooth Mountains and beyond (and beyond and beyond) is on foot. Whether I have a two-hour window in my schedule or the luxury of a full day to get out into the woods, the possibilities for eye- (and lung!) popping hikes are as limitless as the amazingly well maintained, beautiful trail system that originates in our backyard. In-town hikes like Adams Gulch, Proctor Mountain and Chocolate Gulch offer diverse topography and challenge. A short drive from town gets you into the White Clouds, the Smoky Mountains, the Pioneers and the Boulders. Tucked among these mountain peaks are some of the most spectacular high altitude lakes you will ever see, and even during “high season,” many of these trails are surprisingly lightly traveled. My all-time favorite in the Smoky Mountains is the Norton Lake/Big Lost loop — spectacular and easily manageable in a half-day. Given a full day, the Sawtooths are my destination of choice, with trailheads in the Stanley area about an hour’s drive north of Ketchum. One of the destinations in that region isn’t called Shangri-La for nothing! Oh! And hiking up Baldy to Roundhouse for lunch and a gondola ride down is pretty terrific, too! And cresting the final ridge up to Pioneer Cabin is probably one of the most beautiful payoffs, beauty-wise, in the world. This list goes on and on!
As the band the Talking Heads sang in the 80s, “Take me to the river, drop me in the water,” and for our family, this is gospel, as long as we get to bring our fly rods. Sun Valley is surrounded on every side by some of the most pristine, productive trout water in North America. Steps from town, the Big Wood River fishes fantastically throughout the summer, tempting novices to get hooked and offering more sophisticated fishing to experienced anglers. For children, Penny Lake is fishing heaven and a great introduction to the lifetime sport. Over Trail Creek pass, Copper Basin and the Big Lost River beckon with some of the most spectacular scenery in the state and south of Bellevue, Silver Creek draws fly fishing aficionados from around the world with its notoriously selective natives that challenge and delight.
With two figure skaters in the family, much of our summer is spent at the Sun Valley ice rinks. But skating isn’t only for those working on their Double Salchow! Taking a few turns around the iconic outdoor rink that hugs the Lodge’s terrace is a fabulous way to spend an afternoon. In fact, it is the coolest place to be on hot summer days. Skate rentals, attire to make you look like a gold medalist and admission to general sessions are all available at the historic skate house, as is the opportunity to sign up for a few lessons with one of the rink’s highly accomplished pros. Then on Saturday nights, beginning in July, the stars of the skating world shine under Idaho’s canopy of stars in Sun Valley’s world famous ice shows. We love to enjoy the bountiful dinner buffet before the show or wrap up in a blanket on the bleachers to see, up close and personal, the finest athletes in the world. This year’s lineup includes luminaries like Evan Lysacek, Ryan Bradley and Ashley Wagner. This may be your last chance to glimpse future Olympic champions as they finalize preparations for Games in Sochi.
Dining al fresco
Dining outside is one of the great pleasures of life, especially when you live in a climate where it is only possible for a short window of time. Whenever eating out is on the calendar, we chose to go al fresco. At the Resort, dinner on the Ram terrace is our absolute favorite, both for the food and the terrific view of activity in the Village. The swan pond, surrounded by soft green grass, couldn’t be more picturesque if an artist painted it. Other terrific outdoor dining at the Resort includes the terrace at Gretchen’s restaurant overlooking the ice rink, light fare and drinks on the Duchin Room terrace and of course, my other favorite, outdoor dining at the historic Trail Creek Cabin. A short drive from Sun Valley takes you a world away to enjoy outstanding food as Trail Creek burbles nearby and the surrounding mountains look, at sunset, as if they are draped in velvet. Other al fresco dining opportunities also abound in Ketchum and Hailey when decks and patios are the place to see and be seen all summer long, whether you’re enjoying a burger or a gourmet four-course dinner.
Leisurely bike rides
Nearly every night of the warm weather months, my children and I hop on our bikes, hop onto the Rails-to-Trails bike path that runs right by our home and pedal the evening away. This paved path is appropriate for everyone as it gently leads past Hailey to the south and well past Ketchum to the north. The route often runs next to the Big Wood River and offers more than 32-miles of pedaling possibility. My advice? Don’t rush. This is a great opportunity to simply enjoy the surroundings and the company.
Summer possibilities are so varied, whether you are visiting for two weeks or have lived here for 20 years, there will always be new hikes to try, new mountain bike trails to explore, another stretch of river to fish or to whitewater raft, campsites you haven’t visited, a new stretch of beach at a mountain lake at which to picnic, a swimming hole to jump into, another opportunity to work on your handicap. Phew!
No matter what you like to do, though, the critical thing is to just get outside, be with friends and family and remember what summer is supposed to be about. Unplug, enjoy, unwind, explore. It’s summer in Sun Valley.
Slack: characterized by slowness, sluggishness, or lack of energy <a slack pace>
As a longtime local, I have to admit that spring slack is my absolute favorite season. It’s not that I can’t embrace the electric vibe of excitement winter brings with it, or that I don’t adore the infectious energy of summer, it’s just that slack is when the locals get their town back.
In the months of April and May, you will see those fabled “gone fishin’ till summer” signs in Wood River Valley shop windows, and dogs do actually lie undisturbed on Main Street. But one of the best aspects of this monumental slowdown are the locals’ specials. Restaurants all over town (well, at least the ones that stay open) offer amazing deals as a way of saying thank you to their most loyal clientele – and to get some bums on those seats before they get too dusty.
Of course the resort gets in on the action too, ramping up some of its regular year-round specials, as well as bringing out some choice ones just for the “shoulder season.” Here’s a quick roundup of some of my favorite spring specials in Sun Valley.
While the high-powered-career woman is not a type often found in Ketchum, hard-working small-business woman is. If you‘re one of those, why not treat yourself to that lunch out with girlfriends you’ve been promising yourself all winter but just couldn’t find the time for? The time is now, round up the ladies, head to Gretchens and enjoy half-price entrees and, most importantly, half-price wine, any Tuesday or Thursday in May.
For the families who need something to do with the little ones now that Dollar Mountain has said farewell for the season, pop in on Bald Mountain Pizza for some cheap, nutritious entertainment. Let the tykes build their own unlimited-topping pizza for just $5 (daily 5-9 p.m., now through June 6). Plus, get free tickets to a movie at Sun Valley Opera House following the carb overload.
Whether you’re a golf enthusiast, golf widow/er, or just enjoy a spectacular view, make sure to stop by Sun Valley Club, arguably the resort’s hottest lunch spot, and chow down on the spring dining special of a cup of soup and 1/2 a sandwich for a just eight bucks. (runs from Monday through June 9, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.).
Skiers, when the mountain closes this Sunday, channel the resort’s famed Austrian ski instructors and drown your sorrows at the newly remodeled Konditeroi. This Austrian gathering place has gone back to its Eastern European roots and is offering German beer and a house-made brat for $12.99 through June 7, a bargain for such a scrumptious taste of Sun Valley history.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details on any Sun Valley restaurant.
Baby, it’s cold outside. Even the most stalwart and hearty skiers among us have eyed the mountain these past few days with some trepidation. When temps on the Valley floor are in double-digit minuses and we are in the midst of a cold snap (that will thankfully end by week’s end), indoor activities look pretty inviting.
If you are on vacation in Sun Valley right now, and took advantage of a multi-day pass (good thinking – best bang for your buck), you may hesitate when considering taking a day off from mountain, no matter the weather.
To the rescue? Sun Valley’s Lift Ticket Exchange Program that allows you to exchange your ticket if you change your mind. If you wish to take a break from the slopes and hold a multi-day (three or more days) ticket, you may exchange one day for other appealing activities.
Have you had your eye on a new ski parka or accessory at either the Brass Ranch or Pete Lane’s in the Sun Valley Village? Perhaps now is the perfect time to buy a new, cozy layering piece. Maybe there is a beautiful Sun Valley memento calling your name at the Sun Valley Signature Gift Shop. With this exchange program, you can receive $40 off your purchase at any of these fine stores.
Or does nothing sound better than a massage after a few days of aggressive shredding? With this program, you can close the door on the outside world and enjoy a relaxing and regenerative half-hour massage at the Sun Valley Salon & Day Spa located in the Lodge. For this, plan as far ahead as you can and make a reservation. It is a popular option.
Or take the whole day off and focus on dinner. Your exchanged lift ticket gets you a seat at the table for Chef Adam Findlay’s Four Course Tasting menu at the elegant Lodge Dining Room. Chef Findlay’s finely crafted and imaginative offerings rely heavily on locally-sourced, seasonal fare and everything he prepares is divinely delicious. This option, available every evening of the winter season except Sundays, and between February 16 – 24, will be a treat for your taste buds. (Alcohol and gratuity are not included).
If you are not concerned with the cold and would like to try a different outdoor activity, your lift ticket may also be exchanged for a turn on the ice at Sun Valley’s storied outdoor rink (rentals included), combined with $20 off of lunch at Gretchen’s Restaurant in the Lodge. If working a different set of muscles appeals to you, then try a day of classic or skate cross-country skiing at the luxurious Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center. A trail pass and complete equipment rental is included. And for the truly adventurous among us, your unused lift ticket will also provide $40 off the day rate for a trip with Sun Valley Heli-Skiing. The snow in the backcountry is among the best it’s been in years. This choice may be booked by calling 208.622.3108.
The great news is that the snow on Baldy and Dollar is also superlative and worth braving the cold for. If you layer up and head to the hill weather-ready, the skiing is really, really good. The other good news is you’d like a day off, you can enjoy something else great Sun Valley has to offer, guilt-free.
The Lift Ticket Exchange Program is available from now until March 31 with some blackout dates. Please take your lift ticket to the Sun Valley Village Recreation Center or to the ticket window at the River Run Day Lodge prior to participating in other activities.
Call 208.622.2135 or 208.622.6136 for more information and take a break! You deserve it.
The completely reinvented Konditorei Restaurant in the Sun Valley Village will open Saturday, December 22, and all the amazing culinary and creative talents behind the project are in a merry mood. As I happened by the bustling scene Thursday morning, I had to pop in to preview the progress.
Simply put, the new Konditorei is stunning, cozy, charming. From the open pastry kitchen, laden with sweet delights of every imaginable variety, to the comfortable couches surrounding the fire, the Konditorei promises to be the new hot spot at which to gather, eat and relax.
Here is a sneak peek at the great, and delicious, things to come!
Taking photos of food was once the sole purpose of social media, that and telling people what you were doing at any moment in time. While, thankfully, we’ve moved on somewhat, food is still ubiquitous online. From sharing recipies, flaunting the delicacy you’re currently enjoying or pining over the one you wish you were consuming, food porn is ubiquitous in the modern age – probably because a love for food is one thing we all have in common.
This summer, Sun Valley Resort launched its first Instagram contest (for those not familiar, Instagram is a free photo-sharing social network). The resort opened the contest in early June, inviting guests at Sun Valley to snap a creative picture of their dining experience using Instagram and tag it with #LoveSVFood. Each week through the summer, one winner was awarded Sun Valley Swag. Last week the “Best Shot” was selected from among those twelve winners and awarded the grand prize, a three night stay at Sun Valley Resort.
Local girl Kristina Poydenis snapped that grand-prize winning shot, capturing her delectable Mud Pie at Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta. Here’s Kristina’s shot, as well as some of the weekly winners and a selection of the many entries to the contest over the last two months:
A selection of entries and winners to @SunValleyResort’s summer food instagram contest.
A selection of entries and winners to @SunValleyResort’s summer food instagram contest.
For more on Sun Valley’s food, check out my series of Recipes from the Resort and learn how to whip up some of these delicacies in your own kitchen.
It’s been a long, hot summer by Wood River Valley standards, and if your vegetable garden is anything like mine, it’s hitting its peak right now, producing lots of beautiful colors and juicy treats. However, as all mountain gardeners know, we don’t have much time until the first frost, so best use up that sumptuous bounty quick smart. And the fifth dish in my Recipe from the Resort series, a delicious summer vegetable pasta from Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta chef Dennis Pittsley, is the perfect vehicle.
Dennis’s dish is a unique twist on a traditional vegetable pasta, he incorporates spinach into his pesto and adds corn to the veggie mix, providing a surprising sweetness and delightful crunch. This is a simple, sweet and very healthy dish, and the pure pleasure of eating freshly picked veggies from your garden makes it manna from heaven.
Summer Farfalle Pasta
Prep time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 15 minutes
2 cups zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups yellow squash, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup fresh white corn, cut off the cob
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup of fresh seeded diced tomato
a handful of chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 oz of dry farfalle pasta
2 cups of fresh basil
4 cups of fresh spinach
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
for the pesto
Blanch the spinach and the basil, then cool down in ice water to maintain the green color.. drain and squeeze as much water out as possible. roast the pine nuts in the oven at 350F. Combine greens and pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan in a food processor and blend until it reaches a smooth consistency.
for the Pasta
In a large pot, bring salted water to a steady boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. while the pasta is cooking sauté the vegetables (excluding the tomatoes) and garlic for 2 minutes in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the drained pasta to the pan, remove from heat, stir in the fresh and sun dried tomatoes. Toss in the pesto and serve immediately.
If your garden hasn’t been kind enough to provide you with the ingredients needed, head down to Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta and let Dennis whip up his specialty for you. The pizza is darn tasty too, and it’s a great restaurant for the kids. If you time it right you can enjoy dinner and then take the tykes to Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days at the Opera House for free (courtesy of the resort’s dinner and a movie special), or leave the kids at home and catch The Dark Knight, both starting this Friday.
Baldy’s first restaurant situated on the River Run side of Bald Mountain about mid-way up is serviced by Sun Valley’s Roundhouse Gondola. Regardless of when you choose to wine or dine, this trip is sure to become one of your most memorable Sun Valley dining adventures. Foot traffic only tickets available at the River Run ticket office.
The Roundhouse will open November 25 for a First Tracks Continental Breakfast at 8:30am, gourmet lunch and aprs ski wine, beer and light bar fare at Averell’s until 4:30pm daily.
Evening dining at the historic Roundhouse will make its debut for Sun Valley’s 75th winter season.
This new Sun Valley tradition will begin December 10 offering an upscale, casual dining experience, Thursday through Saturdays from 6 to 9pm.
Complimentary Roundhouse Gondola evening transportation will be reserved for dinner guests only.
Dinner reservations are now being accepted for the winter season. Call now.
Call (208) 622-2012 for dinner reservations
Location: Bald Mountain
Breakfast & Lunch Hours: 8:30am – 4:30pm Daily (reservations not taken)
Dinner Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights from 6-9pm Call (208) 622-2012 for dinner reservations