The Wood River Trail aka “the bike path” runs over 20 miles between the Wood River Valley from Bellevue up to Sun Valley. The area encompassing Ketchum and Sun Valley is full of unique and historical sights, all easily viewed in a day by foot, bike, or any other way you choose to explore the bike path! We’ve put together a Sun Valley bike path sightseeing tour guide with all of the must-see spots along the scenic byway.
There are a number of ways to go about this sightseeing tour.
- You could start south at the Sawtooth Botanical Gardens and work your way up.
- Kick things off north east at the Hemingway memorial and work your way down
- Start in Ketchum and do some out and back routing
We’ll leave the navigation up to you!
Located just off the bike path between St. Luke’s hospital and Ketchum, John Grade’s sculpture Spurwas commissioned in 2016 by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts with significant support from the City of Ketchum as part of a larger project celebrating Craters of the Moon National Monument during the 2016 National Park Service Centennial. Spurwas located at Craters during that summer before relocating to its current long-term site.
Based in Seattle, artist John Grade visited Craters of the Moon several times before beginning work on Spur. He was fascinated by the park’s extraordinary geology, and using a technology called LIDAR, he digitally mapped the interior of a lava tube in the park and used the map as a model for the sculpture. Built from Alaskan cedar, the sculpture’s ribs are carved and charred to imitate the craggy interior of the actual tube.
Cold Springs Bridge
The bike path crosses over the historic Cold Springs Bridge located just north of St. Luke’s hospital, two miles south of Ketchum. The 208-foot-long, 17-feet-wide, single span Pegram truss bridge was constructed in 1884 at the Snake River Crossing in Ontario, Oregon. In 1917 the bridge was disassembled and brought to its permanent location in Ketchum where it crosses the Big Wood River.
The bridge served the Union Pacific from 1936-1981 when it would bring skiers on luxury trains to Sun Valley. In 1984, the Blaine County Recreation District converted the bridge for pedestrian use and in 1997 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sawtooth Botanical Garden
Open year-round from sunrise to sunset, the Sawtooth Botanical Garden is not only a gorgeous spot to explore but also a venue for events, classes, and opportunities for learning more about species native to our high-altitude area. Located on Highway 75 at the turn into Gimlet subdivision, the Garden is also conveniently located along the bike path, making it the perfect destination for tourists and locals alike looking to explore a little of the Wood River Valley’s backyard.
An icon of Sun Valley, many a photo has been taken in front of this barn and numerous reproductions of it in paintings and memorabilia have been made over the years. Located on Sun Valley Road between Ketchum and Sun Valley (across from the horse pasture and Olympic skier statues), the red barn is hard to miss. Built in the early 1880s, its thought that this barn used to service ore wagons that traveled Trail Creek Road.
Olympic Skier Statues
A new addition to along the Sun Valley Road bike path are bronze statues of two of Ketchum’s female Olympic skiers, Christin Cooper and Gretchen Fraser. The statues are the beginning of what will be six figures for “Our Olympic Ladies”, a tribute conceived by local businessman, Brian Barsotti. The other four statues will include Picabo Street, Susan Corrock, Kaitlyn Farrington, and Muffy Davis.
Sun Valley Horses in Pasture
Riding on the bike path on Sun Valley Road takes one right past horses in pasture, a stop many make to photograph the beautiful horses and to pet any that might come near the fence enclosing them. These horses are put of the Sun Valley Stables, owned by Sun Valley Company, who use the horses for wagon rides and horseback rides in the summer and sleigh rides in the winter. The stables have been a part of Sun Valley from its beginnings and what are now the White Clouds and Sun Valley golf course were once used for horse pasture and hay fields to feed the horses in the winter.
Sun Valley Village
As the bike path leaves Ketchum and enters Sun Valley, a stop in the Sun Valley Village is one full of history, sites to see, and shops to explore. Sun Valley got its start in 1935 when Count Felix Schaffgotsch of Austria was looking for a spot in the western United States to build a ski resort. Hearing about a small mining town called Ketchum, he visited the area and immediately fell in love with the place, wiring his employer Averell Harriman to tell him of the discovery. They soon purchased the 4,300 acres that would become Sun Valley and opened it to the public in 1936. The Austrian influence of Sun Valley’s founder can be seen in the architecture and feel of the Sun Valley Village. With historic spots like The Ram and the Sun Valley Lodge and shopping and dining options galore, it’s easy to spend the day here.
Snack Stop at Village Station or A La Mode
For those looking for something to eat after a day of seeing the sites via bike, stop in at Sun Valley Village’s Village Station or A La Mode. The Village Station is a family-friendly restaurant serving lunch, dinner and drinks. The train station-inspired décor pays tribute to Sun Valley’s history as an early destination on the Union Pacific railroad line. Enjoy a wide selection of cocktails and craft beers on tap, as well as a menu of classic American favorites like cheeseburgers, chicken wings, and pizza. For an afternoon treat, head to A La Mode, a spot reminiscent of a classic soda shop that serves up cocoa, malts, shakes, and floats.
Located on the bike path out Trail Creek is the memorial to famed author Ernest Hemingway who often visited and lived in Sun Valley and made it his final resting space. Nestled in a grove of cottonwoods is a bust of Hemingway as well as a plaque with following words:
“Best of all, he loved the fall. The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods, leaves floating on the trout streams, and above the hills the high, blue, windless skies. Now he will be a part of them forever.”
These words were actually a eulogy written by Hemingway during his first visit to Sun Valley for Van Guilder, a Sun Valley publicist who died young in a tragic hunting accident. The Hemingway memorial to which Tillie refers is tucked into a grove of cottonwoods on Trail Creek Road about ten minutes’ ride past Sun Valley Resort. It overlooks the yellow leaves beneath the high blue skies to which the eulogy refers.