NexGenLife July 6, 2021

Summer Thrills

A Sun Valley bucket list for kids of all ages

Whether you are a longtime Sun Valley local or a recent transplant aiming to escape the big-city rigors, there are scores of activities within the Wood River Valley for kids and parents alike. While Sun Valley is most famous as a winter resort and the birthplace of the first ski lift, there are, in fact, a diverse range of fun and unique activities in the summer months. Locals have a saying that summarizes it: “It’s the winter that brings you here, but the summers that keep you.” If you are looking for a great spot for stargazing, a scenic hike or tasty ice cream cone, Sun Valley’s summers have you covered.


The most successful family activities typically involve a combination of unrestrained exercise and ample kid-friendly food. Hiking to the lookout on Bald Mountain is a three-and-a-half-mile hike from the base of Baldy that is perfect for older kids and parents, or with a small “freeloader” in a backpack for an added workout. The Bald Mountain Trail begins at the River Run base and is a single-track trail that climbs along the Big Wood River, traverses a steep, forested slope and crosses an open, south-facing slope before reaching the lookout platform, which offers views of town and the surrounding mountains and a little history of Ketchum.

The Bald Mountain Trail is a popular route that hikers can make into an out-and-back hike, or continue on to treat themselves at Sun Valley’s Roundhouse and take the gondola down (to save knees or shorten the hike for tired little legs). The historic Roundhouse, perched atop a ridge on Baldy, has been serving up memorable meals with stunning views since 1939 that make any occasion feel special. While you may miss out on their famous fondue in the summer, you can enjoy a great burger or salad before taking the gondola down.


Another locale that combines food and ample room to run is the Sun Valley Summer Music Festival (see page 92 for more on the Festival) at the Sun Valley Pavilion. From July through August, you will find admission-free performances by world-class musicians at the symphony. Perhaps one of the best parts of the experience is that kids can roam (quietly, at the back of the lawn) while their parents picnic and enjoy a glass of wine in the sun.


If you want to play at the base of the towering Sawtooth mountain range, then head to Redfish Lake for an afternoon of standup paddleboarding, ice cream on the beach and a boat ride across the stunning glacier-carved lake. At the dock, there are boat rentals ranging from pedal boats to pontoons, and The Lakeside Grill at Redfish Lake Lodge offers burgers, fish tacos, salads and their famous “living the dream” soft-serve ice cream. There is also an indoor dining experience, The Rustic Lounge, for those who work up an appetite after a day on the lake.


If you are looking for a closer “out-of-town” experience, Trail Creek Road has winding trails that are low-key and suitable for younger hikers. There are a number of trails with safe river access for kids to wade and skip rocks or build teepees, as well as a few picnic tables to set up shop with easily-packed sandwiches or wraps from Bigwood Bakery or Wrapcity. The bike path also runs along the road, and you will find kids on scooters and bikes, as well as more experienced riders clad in spandex, headed over Trail Creek Summit.


Biking adventures abound throughout the Valley. The bike park at Quigley is a great spot in the Valley for kids of all ages to enjoy some heart-pumping mountain biking. Created and maintained by the Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD), the park features a pump track suitable for younger (or newer) bikers, as well as jump lines, flow lines and a skills area for more experienced riders. Morgan Buckert, associate director of the BCRD, says, “The pump track is great to build skills for even strider riders, and the flow trails and jump lines are rated green, blue and black to grow your mountain biking skills and get some big air. The multi-use Quigley Loop Trail is perfect for a family ride.” This facility is free and open during daylight hours.


While you are in Hailey, check out Hop Porter Park for a more low-key activity with family. Ideal for younger children, the vast wooden castle structure boasts bridges, tunnels and slides, as well as age-appropriate obstacle-course activities. There are also swings, a mechanical zipline and a covered pavilion, which is a perfect shaded spot for lunch.


A great mid-Valley spot to
check out is the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, which offers a variety of family-friendly events like the Bug Zoo, garden tours, a wildflower walk and classes for both children and adults. Rachael Arndt, the community outreach coordinator, said, “This summer, we’ll be offering weekly yoga classes and fun activities like soap making.” So, if you are looking to kill some time during those endlesss summer afternoons, take your kids over to the Garden to play in their huge sandbox, and they can sharpen their water-bug-catching skills in the creek that runs through the property.

Whatever you’re looking for this summer, Sun Valley has it!



LeRoy’s Ice Cream (north)

Yellow Belly Ice Cream (south)



PK’s Bike Shop (Ketchum), Pete Lane’s (Sun Valley), Sturtevants (Ketchum)



Swimming hole by the Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum



Knob Hill in Ketchum



“The Scenic Overlook” on Bald Mountain Trail


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