It’s a mysterious time of year when the ski lifts have stopped spinning and there’s chatter of people heading south to Baja. Many refer to this period as “slack season” and while it may sound boring, it’s anything short of that. Slack season is one of the secret times in Sun Valley. It’s a uniquely quiet moment when the crowds are gone, the hills are lush with greenery and the opportunities for spring rejuvenation are calling. It’s the perfect time of year to restart your engine before summer revs into full swing. We’ve compiled a go-to guide of how to maximize this unknown gem of a season that is spring in Sun Valley.
Still yearning for brisk high mountain air surrounded by snow covered peaks but not interested in cramming your foot back into a ski boot? Road biking over Galena Pass on Highway 75 is the ticket. There are several other quad burning, lung filling road bike rides with beautiful scenery.
- Highway 75 to Galena: A beautiful stretch of highway that runs from Ketchum north to Stanley over Galena Pass. With good shoulders on the road and a reasonable grade, this ride allows bikers to be physically challenged and rewarded with downhill sections. Bikers are surrounded with views of the Boulder Mountains and Sawtooth Mountains.
- Elkhorn Loop: Catch a view of Dollar Mountain on the paved bike loop through the village of Elkhorn. This road ride can start from downtown Ketchum, and increases mileage winding through beautiful scenery on perfect pavement.
- Wood River Bike Trail: Known as the main artery to the valley, this paved path connects Sun Valley and Ketchum to Bellevue – an 18 mile stretch popular as a commuter route.
- Trail Creek Road: From downtown Ketchum, this road travels east out of Sun Valley connecting to Mackay, Idaho over Trail Creek Pass. The first 6 miles are paved then changes to a narrow gravel road with mountain views.
Backcountry Ski Touring
Once the lifts stop spinning at Sun Valley Resort, the snow north of Sun Valley at high mountain elevations doesn’t melt until the heat of the summer. Skiers and snowboarders eager to put in extra physical effort have another round of spring backcountry skiing. Galena Pass is the go-to zone for quick day tours. For the adventure seekers looking for multi-day spring ski and mountaineering trips, huts and yurts are available for rent until May 15. Both Sawtooth Mountain Guides and Sun Valley Trekking offer hut rentals and guiding services in the surrounding mountain ranges.
Early Season Mountain Bike Rides and Trail Runs
Dust off the mountain bike and jogging shoes and get a head start on tanning those white calves! Sun Valley’s unique geography provides multitudes of sunshine which melts enough snow in the south valley to open several mountain bike trails early. Catch a head start on the mountain bike season with these trails until the rest of the loot dries off from spring runoff. In the meantime, keep an eye on the BCRD (Blaine County Recreation District) Summer Trail Link site for up-to-date reports on trail closures and conditions.
Learn About Local Food and Farms
Between adventures playing in the mountains, the largest common bond of all humans is our need and desire for food. There are many local farmers dedicating their lives to the production of food, and spring is the time for planting. The Local Food Alliance has information on events where citizens can learn about where their food comes from and visit the farms producing food for the Wood River Valley.
Bask in the serenity of this high-desert spring-fed creek at the base of the Picabo Hills south of Bellevue. In the warmth of the south valley peacefully canoe down the Silver Creek or stroll down the self-guided nature trail while observing the abundance of wildlife cohabitating the preserve. As many as 150 species of birds have been identified here, and the globally unique aquatic ecosystem is home to the highest densities of stream insects in North America. As a world-class fishery, this place is legendary for fly-fishing.
Shred the Local Skate Parks
Shred Sun Valley on a skateboard? Heck yeah! Normally the world-class mountains take center stage in the area but the best partner-in-crime for rugged mountains is smooth and complex skate parks. If you love to shred, both Ketchum and Hailey host top-notch parks. In Ketchum, the Guy Coles Skate Park is located on the corner of Warm Springs and Saddle Roads across from the YMCA. On the original skate park lot, it was rebuilt with a keyhole bowl, over vert pocket, and a grassy chill zone for a late afternoon BBQ with your crew. The Hailey Skate Park is located on the south end of town by the rodeo arena at 820 s. Main Street and boasts a 16 foot full pipe, a 13 foot deep bowl, and a number of challenging features. Both parks have mountain backdrops and space to hang out while your friends throw down. Get your set up at the local Board Bin skate shop.
Rally your competitive friends, family, or coworkers for a lunch-break game of disc golf. It’s an outdoor game perfect for dishing out friendly banter while enjoying the fresh spring air. Disc golf game in which players throw a frisbee at a target, and is played using rules similar to golf. Take your pick between several courses nearby: Stanley Disc Golf on the outskirts of the town of Stanley at the Pioneer Park with the jagged Sawtooth Range as a backdrop. Stop in for brunch at the Stanley Bakery after a round. Keep it close to home base at the Warm Springs dog park.
Spring is a time to revitalize. Discover the serene oasis of several spas which will be a treat regardless of the weather. Zenergy is Sun Valley’s premier health club and spa. The pass includes indoor and outdoor pools with views of Bald Mountain, tennis courts, cardio & weight training gym, Pilates, and over 80+ weekly group fitness classes, indoor cycling, and yoga studios. The luxury spa offers a wide variety of services, including massage, acupuncture, reflexology, nail salon, hair studio, and tanning. The Sun Valley Spa, located at the main resort lodge offers similar luxurious ways to unwind, relax and rejuvenate.
Sophistication at its finest is an evening of hors d’oeuvres and art strolls. Expect a high caliber of art from Sun Valley Gallery Association galleries which are free to the public and within walking distance of each other. Enjoy wine with friends and meet the artists while touring several galleries with the thought-provoking exhibitions of newly installed art. View a map of galleries, here.
Putt-Putt from Bar to Bar
If you prefer a rowdy bar scene over the sophisticated gallery stroll, begin to gather a group of friends, a costume, a sense of humor and a putter. On May 19th, Ketchum will host the ultimate putt-putt tournament – the Ketchum Wide Open. While raising funds for charity, each bar in Ketchum sets up a putt-putt hole as teams walk around town putting as a way to have fun and give back to the community!
Memorial Day Weekend Happenings
Redfish Lake Lodge Memorial Run is over Memorial Day weekend kicking off opening day at Redfish Lake. You can sign up here to run the half marathon, 10K and 5K options. Another Memorial Day opener is fishing on the Big Wood River.
Other Spring Events
Keep tabs on our events calendar for a full line-up of what’s happening this spring.
Slack Specials and Sales
This is the time of year when spring cleaning and spring splurging meet. Stores are clearing out their inventory making space for summer inventory, so it’s time to capitalize on the slack specials going on around town. Spring is the in between season where hotels, restaurants and stores offer steep discounts.
With the warm breeze of spring comes many new beginnings for adventure in the valley. If you’re ready to relax or looking to rev it up, you’ve come to the right place.