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September 16, 2016 / mws

2016 Wood River Valley, Idaho

September 12 – 15

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NOTE:  The Wood River Valley includes Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley.  It is located in south central Idaho and is known for it’s outdoor recreational opportunities.

10. Ketchum, Idaho

This is the first time we stayed in Ketchum which is located adjacent to Sun Valley. While Sun Valley gets most of the commercial attention, Ketchum has retained its pioneer charm.  Main Street in Ketchum mixes modern art galleries and restaurants with original western looking brick buildings.

img_0777Ketchum, Idaho is a very clean town and the outskirts showcase huge homes on large pristine properties.  The cost of living in Ketchum is about 50% higher than the average for the U.S.  When shopping here, visitors need to be prepared for the inflated prices for meals and gift items.  Because of the remoteness of the area, it’s worth the extra $$ for the peace and tranquility you find in the surrounding forests and valleys.

We stayed at the Tylorean Best Western which was an Austrian style hotel with Bald Mountain in the background.  It was about a 5 minute walk to downtown with dining, shopping and art galleries.  There was also a bike/walking path adjacent to our lodging.  On  our first night here there was an “old car” convention in town.  It was fun to see the cars (and dogs).

9. Hemingway Memorial

Hemingway Memorial

Hemingway Memorial

In 1939, Ernest Hemingway made his first trip to the Wood River Valley and fell in love with the area. He worked on For Whom the Bells Tolls while staying at the Sun Valley Lodge.

Twenty years later, Hemingway moved to the Wood River Valley. In his Idaho home, he assembled his memoir, A Moveable Feast and he created the manuscript for The Garden of Eden.  The beauty of the Wood River Valley is thought to have provided inspiration to Hemingway.

Buried in the Ketchum Cemetery, Hemingway was memorialized by a bronze statue and a plaque which read:

Best of all he loved the fall
the leaves yellow on cottonwoods
leaves floating on trout streams
and above the hills
the high blue windless skies
…Now he will be a part of them forever

8. Sawtooth Scenic Byway  The Byway begins in Shoshone, Idaho and heads north through national forest land.  The 115-mile route follows Route 75 as it winds its way through the Boulder Mountains to Galena Pass and then north to Stanley, Idaho. There are great stops along the way including Galena Summit and Alturas Lake.  Our favorite stop on this trip was the charming Galena Lodge.

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Galena Lodge

In a rustic old log building, historic Galena Lodge is a community owned day lodge located in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains.  Galena was originally founded as a mining town in 1879. During that time, Galena was the largest community in the Wood River Valley. It had  hotels, stables, and markets for it’s 800 residents.  The small log Galena Lodge building is the last remaining structure of this once booming mining town. Saved from destruction by the family of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz,  the lodge includes interior seating and a welcoming outdoor deck.

It was a challenge for past owners to keep the lodge operating.  A series of owners relied on fishing and cross country trails to entice visitors. Due to it’s remote location, it was difficult for owners to be successful.  In 1994, a community endeavor raised $500,000 to keep Galena as a historic landmark.  It is now property of the Blaine County Recreation District and operated as a concession with overnight yurt accommodation.

7. Redfish Lake  Just five miles south of Stanley, Idaho is one of the largest alpine lakes located in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.  Redfish Lake gets it’s alpine designation by being at an elevation of 6,500 feet with the 10,000 foot Mt. Heyburn as a backdrop.   Located in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains area,  there are numerous photo ops both at the lake and driving through Custer County, Idaho to arrive at the lake.  At Redfish Lake there are campgrounds, a Visitors Center and Redfish Lodge.

Little Redfish Lake

Little Redfish Lake

There are lots of hiking trails in this area including short nature trails, loop trails, and longer hikes to lakes and waterfalls.  On the return to Route 75 are two campgrounds on the right.  From the campgrounds, there is access to Little Redfish Lake.  This is a great place to get photos of Thompson Peak, the tallest peak in the Sawtooth Mountains.

6. Town of Stanley, Idaho  With under 100 full time residents, the village of Stanley remains a symbol of the true west.  It rests along the Salmon River at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains and is well off the beaten path. There are lodging choices, a few shops and restaurants here, but the true draw is the outdoor beauty.

Sawtooth Scenic Byway

Scenic view near Stanley, Idaho

Stanley has two main paved and maybe a dozen gravel roads, none of which are very long. On the few back roads through the Stanley area, there are a variety of what seem to be second homes.  Lovely creeks surround the homes, with the ever present mountain backdrop.  I assume that these homes are used only in summer, though snowmobiling is a huge winter activity in the area.

Stanley is the gateway to the Sawtooth Wilderness and recreation area. For proof of the natural scenic wonders here, Stanley lies at the intersection of The Salmon River Scenic Byway, The Sawtooth Scenic Byway and The Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. Just “over the hill” from Stanley is the popular resort area of Sun Valley.

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Prairie Creek Viewpoint

5. Prairie Creek 

On a previous trip, quite by accident, we discovered Prairie Creek. This area is along the Sawtooth Scenic Byway between Galena Summit and Ketchum.  99% of visitors would never think to stop here, but we just happened to need a place to rest and found it years ago.

There is a picnic area here and the prettiest creek with a nice mountain background.  The fall colors added to the charm. I have dubbed this spot the best kept secret of the Sawtooth Scenic Byway!

 

 

Stanley Lake

Stanley Lake

4. Stanley Lake  The lovely alpine Stanley Lake lies within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area about 7 miles west of the town of Stanley, Idaho. There are hiking and biking trails in the area and a small campground.  Within the campground is a scenic overlook with outstanding views of Stanley Lake and rugged 9,869 ft. McGowan Peak. Well known to local artists, this is the location where original artwork is created and then displayed in the Wood River Valley art galleries.In addition to the campground activities and the photo ops, the area is well known for a multitude of birds.  Among those seen at Stanley Lake are raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds.

Sun Valley Lodge

Sun Valley Lodge

3.  Sun Valley Resort  It was named Sun Valley for good reason since there are 250 days of sunshine a year!  Side Note: The day we visited Sun Valley Resort, it rained!!  With all the sun and a very low humidity,  Sun Valley is a seasonal home to many of the rich and famous and very well known for recreational opportunities.

In 1936, Sun Valley opened the public Ski Resort.  Today, it has grown to include golf, skating with ice shows, hiking, biking, spas and shopping. It even has an Opera House!

We enjoy strolling through the grounds and taking in all the sights.  There is also outstanding musical events with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and top-north artists performing in the Sun Valley Pavilion.

img_56502.  Park Creek Overlook  The Sawtooth Mountains are a great backdrop for photos anywhere in the area, but the Park Creek Overlook is our favorite!  Just a few miles west of Stanley, Idaho there is a large pullover and looking east there are glorious views of Mt. Thompson, Alpine Peak, and Mt. McGowan.  The best lighting is in the afternoon and it’s easy to see why Ernest Hemingway loved the Sawtooth Wilderness!

1.  September 14  ❤ We spent several September 14th Wedding anniversaries in Sun Valley, so we thought it was appropriate to return for our 25th Anniversary in 2016.

Sawtooth Valley 2006

September 14, 2006

For the early anniversaries, we dined in the Sun Valley Lodge.  The dining was upstairs overlooking the ice show and enhanced with lovely background piano music. The lodge has been updated and no longer includes a restaurant…made us a little sad. 😦

We spent the day roaming around the Sawtooth Scenic Byway.  Many spots along the way brought back great thoughts of highlights from previous trips.  Does it seem like 25 years?  No, of course not, but what cherished memories from years gone by!! 🙂

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For photos of our 2016 trip to the Wood River Valley, click here

Link to itinerary for our entire Fall 2016 trip

“where a man feels at home, outside of where he’s born, is where he’s meant to go.”
― Ernest Hemingway

 

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Norma / Mar 27 2017 7:34 pm

    Hello: I’m loving your blogs – they are helping me plan my trip this summer to Stanley. We have 2 full days in Stanley. My mother can not walk well. We have 1 day where we want to explore the lakes and the Sawtooth Scenic Byway. I want to see as much as possible, but we are limited to staying on concrete paths – no uneven gravel surfaces – no hiking unless its concrete and small walks. Do you have any suggestions for our trip? Thank you!

    • mws / Mar 29 2017 8:28 am

      Drive a few miles west of Stanley to the Park Creek Overlook. It’s a very short walk to the overlook. Also, about 5 miles west of Stanley is Stanley Lake which is beautiful. If you don’t mind driving, it’s a lovely drive south to Sun Valley Resort. There are restaurants for lunch or dinner.

      • Norma / Mar 29 2017 2:31 pm

        Thank you!

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