Community January 6, 2022

Howling at the Moon

Enchanting dinner adventures powered by moonlight

The moon, the only celestial body to have hosted human visitors, has been a source of awe and wonder since time began. The moon is earth’s only natural satellite and the fifth largest moon of the more than 200 moons orbiting planets in our solar system. NASA scientists credit the presence of the moon with helping to make earth more livable by moderating how much it wobbles on its axis, affecting gravitational pull, and cycles of time, tides, and migratory patterns.

The cycles of the moon, from the darkness of the new moon to the full reflection of the sun in the full moon, have made it a symbol of time and change in cultures around the world—a reminder of the constant cycle of death and rebirth found in the natural world. Early methods for recording time were not by using the months of the Julian or Gregorian calendar, but by tracking the lunar months, and full-moon rituals around the world vary from the Native American “moon dance” in Mexico or the Hindu “Purnima” full-moon fasting ritual to the simple act of harvesting crops beneath the extra light from a full moon—hence the Farmer’s Almanac reference to the “Harvest Moon,” the name for the September full moon.

Whether you feel the need to howl at the moon or mark its passing with ceremony, there is no denying that Earth’s closest celestial body has a powerful effect on the human experience—from the tides to tracking the months of year—and, as any local knows, some of the most magical mountain adventures are those lit by moonlight reflecting across a field of snow.

Galena Lodge, a community-owned day lodge nestled in the Boulder Mountains 23 miles north of Ketchum, offers special full-moon dinners throughout the winter months. There is nothing quite like the silent crunch of snowshoes on a moonlight night or the swish of Nordic skis on a freshly groomed track beneath a full moon, and Galena is surrounded by some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the nation. Over 50 kilometers of immaculately groomed Nordic trails (for both skate and classic skiing) and 25 kilometers of snowshoe trails surround the lodge. Trail options include everything from a gentle loop beside the river and through open meadows with views to the 10,000-foot peaks above, to steep climbs up through open forests of pine, spruce and fir.

Galena Lodge was originally founded as a mining town in 1879 and was the largest community in the Wood River Valley during its heyday, boasting several hotels, stables, a meat market, and the Daisy Saloon. All that remains today is Galena Lodge, which was constructed in 1960 using remnants of the old townsite for much of the interior construction, adding to the authentic old-world feel. Seating for the three-course full-moon dinners is communal style, so bring a festive attitude and be prepared to make some new friends. Make sure you reserve early, though, as dates sell out fast. Check out the calendar of dates offered and make reservations at

Looking for something a bit closer to home that is drawn by horse power instead of your own two legs? Then plan a memorable dinner at Sun Valley’s historic Trail Creek Cabin. Originally built in 1937, this rustic, mountain-style cabin is rumored to have once belonged to Ernest Hemingway. Located above the winding curves of Trail Creek, the four-course seasonal menu offers gourmet selections from the Sun Valley Resort culinary team. Diners begin the evening with a horse-drawn sleigh ride over snowy trails with breathtaking views of Baldy Mountain. No specific full-moon dinner is offered, but Trail Creek Cabin is open for dinner from Wednesday through Sunday, with two seatings offered, at 5p.m. and 9p.m., so diners can choose a full-moon date of their own or simply enjoy the sparkling expanse of the Milky Way almost any winter night. Call Sun Valley Resort for reservations at 208.622.2135.

Another truly magical full-moon option is a ride up the Sun Valley gondola beneath a moonlight sky for dinner at The Roundhouse, perched at 7,700 feet midway up Baldy. The ride up offers spectacular 360-degree views of the Pioneer, Smoky and Boulder Mountains, as well as the twinkling town lights of Ketchum and Sun Valley below. Originally built in 1939 by Sun Valley’s founder Averell Harriman, chairman of the Union P,acific Railroad, The Roundhouse features a massive stone centerpiece fireplace and elegant linen table service featuring a six-course prix fixe menu prepared by chef Dustin White, with seasonal dishes inspired by Sun Valley Resort’s European heritage. Diners who want to work up an appetite before dinner can consider strapping on backcountry gear and skinning up the mountain after the lift has closed at 4 p.m. and then skiing down after dinner under a spectacular night sky (don’t forget your extra layers and a headlamp). You can even snowshoe or skin up for dinner and then ride the gondola down if your dinner plans feature a bottle of wine or cocktails with friends. Dinner at The Roundhouse is by reservation only and open Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call Sun Valley Resort at 208.622.2012 for reservations.


This article appears in the Winter 2021 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.