Sun Valley & Ketchum ID – Beauty & Fun in the Mountains!

Twin Falls, ID Perrine Bridge

Lots of folks jump from the 480 foot tall Perrine Bridge

in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Snake River overlook Twin Falls ID

Pretty bike bath along the Snake River.

Twin Falls ID valley

The first settler built his farm in this valley.

Mule deer at campsite Ketchum Idaho

The welcome committee greets us outside Ketchum.

Mule deer at campsite Ketchum Idaho

A mule deer stopped by our campsite every night.

Paved bike path Ketchum Idaho

The paved rails-to-trails bike path runs for 30 miles.

Averell Harriman Sun Valley Idaho

Averell Harriman wanted a world class

ski resort destination on his railroad line.

Harriman Trail Sun Valley ID

The Harriman Trail runs 20 miles north from Ketchum.

Mountain biking Harriman Trail Sun Valley ID

It is a great place for mountain biking.

Harriman Trail Sun Valley ID

We saw lots of riders on the trail everyday.

Elephant perch bike ride Ketchum ID

Lance Armstrong's quest for gold in the

Tour de France inspires cyclists even in

this remote outpost.

Elephant perch bike ride Ketchum ID

The Elephant Perch bike shop has a weekly group ride

into the postcard-like scenery.

Sun Valley sculptures

This laid back town is full of whimsy.

Sun Valley arts

Even the huge chair is wearing

cowboy boots.

Ketchum Idaho cafes

The whole town lives outside for the summer months.

Ketchum Idaho

In this upscale town the free samples are gourmet

meats and imported cheeses.

Ketchum Idaho

Flowers and mountains frame the town.

The town rallied support for Pfc.

Bowe Bergdahl who had recently

been captured in Afghanistan.

Cafes and bistros in Ketchum Idaho Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

We found the ideal campsite.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

...but the views and serenity were worth the white

knuckles and scuff marks.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

Perched on the edge of a glittering creek, we had to

go to great lengths to shoehorn our rig down a trail

into this paradise...

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

The sun always disappeared as soon as Mark

stepped into the ice cold water.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

This place is ideal for rest and


Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping Sawtooth National Recreation Area camping

Ketchum / Sun Valley, Idaho

Early July, 2009 - After landing in Burbank, California, following our

seven week sojourn in Michigan, we collected our trailer and made a

circuitous route to Idaho in search of some R&R.  We had fallen in love

with the small town of Kellogg, outside of Coeur d'Alene, two years

earlier, and everything we had heard about Idaho from other travelers

was outstanding.  One six-year full-timing veteran we met in Pioche, NV

last year told us, "I just came from a boondocking spot in Stanley,

Idaho, and it was exactly what I've been looking for all these years:

gorgeous mountain views, meadows filled with wildflowers, clear

streams, and lots of wildlife."  This image had been in the back of our

minds ever since.

After a long

slog across

the Nevada

desert, we aimed for Twin Falls, Idaho.  We had thought we'd blow right

through town, but instead we got a blowout on one of the trailer tires

about 60 miles from town.  We limped into Twin Falls on the spare tire

with eyes only for Les Schwab Tires.  Once a new tire was in place, we

opened our eyes a little more and began to look around.  What a neat


It is legal to

jump off the

huge bridge

spanning the Snake River with a parachute, and we watched for quite a

while as people suited up with all kinds of lines and parachute gear,

walked to the middle of the bridge, climbed over the railing, and jumped

off.  In the distance we could see the spot where Evel Knievel tried to

jump the Snake River with his motorcycle back in 1974 (his parachute

opened too early and he landed on the water's edge just below his

launch site).

There is a pretty bike path that goes along the edge of the Snake River,

offering fantastic views into the canyon and river below.  The first settler

had put his farm on the river's edge smack in the middle of the canyon.

Today the same area is home to a beautiful pair of golf courses.  As I gathered tourist material at the visitor's center, I wanted to

stay longer, but this was a hot time of year to be here, and the mountains were calling up ahead.  I had emailed the head of the

Escapees' Boondockers club, asking where the best boondocking

spot might be in the Sawtooth Mountains, and got the response,

"There are MANY beautiful spots."  I was a little bemused by this

vague answer, but when I arrived at the Sawtooth National

Recreation Area I discovered that she was right:  there are

gorgeous spots all over the place, no planning needed.

Our welcome committee the first night was a young mule deer.

He walked through our campsite, totally unconcerned about our

presence. One special patch of grass kept him occupied for over

an hour.  The second night, in a new site, another mule deer

stopped by to say "hello."  We were quickly feeling all the cares of

the world slip away.

There is a wonderful rails-to-trails paved bike path that goes between

Bellevue, to the south, and Ketchum, to the north.  Thirty miles or so

in overall length, it does several loops in and around the Ketchum/

Sun Valley area as well.  We rode it into town regularly, although the

wide shoulder on Route 75 makes for great cycling too.  Riding these

paths and roads, I kept feeling as though I was riding through a

bicycle touring catalog's best photos.

The town of Ketchum has its deepest roots in silver mining, but it also

has the distinction of being home to a world class ski resort.  Averell

Harriman, a railroad baron, wanted a prime winter tourist destination

somewhere on his line.  He hired an Austrian count to scour the

countryside along the railroad in order to find the best location.  After

several months of searching, almost ready to call it quits, the count

made one last trip -- to Ketchum -- and decided this was the spot.

The Sun Valley resort opened to

great fanfare in 1936.  It was such a

celebrated wonderland of ice and

snow and the rich and famous that far

far away in New York City my mom

grew up in the 1940's fantasizing

about visiting someday (and she did,

in 2003).

We first heard of Mr. Harriman

because of the mountain bike trail that bears his name.  It runs from Ketchum north for 20 miles

to Galena Lodge, winding along the Big Wood River.  Between that trail to the north and the

paved bike path to the south, we were very happy campers, getting out on our bikes every day.

Brilliant deep blue skies greeted us every morning during our first week,

giving way to puffy clouds every afternoon.  It was paradise.

Our first stop in town was the bike shop, of course.  There are many

bike shops in Ketchum, but the one in the center of town -- and the

one broadcasting the Tour de France every day -- was the Elephant

Perch.  Lance Armstrong was in the hunt when we arrived, and there

were high hopes he'd pull off one of his famous maneuvers to win.

The Elephant's Perch has a group bike ride every Wednesday night,

and they were relying on Lance for inspiration to tackle the

mountains around town.

We saw some of the faster riders out on the road and vowed to join

them the following Wednesday.  Unfortunately, ten miles into the ride

(just as I was wondering how I was going to fare on the big hill up

ahead) the heavens opened up, and it poured.  Mark and I took that as our cue to exit and dashed back to the trailer as fast as we

could go.  The ride leader, Nappy, had told us that the group never misses a date at The Roosevelt, a restaurant in town where

they reserve a private room to imbibe a bit after the ride.  We didn't realize just how serious these post-ride dates were until later:

the whole group had turned back when the downpour began, but they went straight to the bar!

This happy-go-lucky spirit pervades the whole town.  Whimsical statues

grace the main drag, from huge cowboy booted

flamingos to huge cowboy booted rocking chairs to

fun and crazy animals and other sculptures.

The summer is short here, so

everyone spends a lot of time

outside.  There are a zillion cute

bistros, with cafe tables all over

the place, and there are events

going on every day.

If it isn't a musician strumming his

guitar in the middle of town, it's the

gourmet meat and cheese vendor

giving away samples (even pure

angus beef "sliders").  Every day

we came into town we were swept

up into something fun.

On a more serious note, the town was trimmed head to

toe in yellow ribbons, with plaintive signs stating, "Bring

Bowe Home."  Beloved local boy, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, a

Hailey, Idaho native, had recently been captured in Afghanistan, and a video tape of him had

just been released by his Al Queda captors.  The community had rallied around his family, and

there were offerings of support everywhere.

Grateful to everyone, past and present, who has gifted

us with freedom, we enjoyed many strolls around town.

There were flowers everywhere, pretty mountains in the

distance (with ski runs plain to see), and it was a big

enough town that it took several strolls on different days

to see all of it.

We had been out of our home and away from our

lifestyle for so long that these kinds of easy days in a

friendly town were exactly what we needed.  Stanley,

which we had assumed would be our destination, was

still 60 miles up the road, but we couldn't tear ourselves

away from Ketchum.

We even got library cards at the local library so we

could take out some CDs and DVDs to enjoy in the

trailer (there was little radio and no TV reception in the

national forest).

We scouted out many boondocking areas by bike, and

happened on the ideal spot 3 miles down a very bad dirt road.  It was too tempting not to try, but

in hindsight it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I stood on the roof of the trailer and trimmed

branches for quite some time before we shoe-horned ourselves into the spot.  Only after we'd

gotten in did we think about getting out.  Yikes.  On the day we pulled out there was thunder and

lightning in the distance and big, fat threatening raindrops falling all around us.  Our patch of dirt

quickly turned into a mudhole.  But Mark managed to do a 30-point turn with the trailer, dodging

two large boulders and three trees, and got us turned around.

In the end, however, the white

knuckles and scuffs were all worth it:

the many days between our arrival

and our departure were pure

storybook fantasy.

We were camped on the edge of a creek with a

cascade of mountains rising behind us.  The mule

deer came by every evening, except on the

weekends when the forest had too many human


The sun shone so warmly that we ran around in

shorts and tank tops, that is, until Mark decided to

sponge off in the water.  Then the sun always

went behind a huge cloud and stayed there, leaving him in shade while he hooped and hollered and

thundered like an ornery bull, splashing ice water all over himself.  It was all very impressive, but I preferred

taking a hot shower in the rig.  Of course, by that time the warm sun would be out again.

We spent our days walking and riding along the dirt road,

reading and listening to things we'd gotten from the library,

tidying up the many loose ends that had been frayed with our

hasty departure in May, and generally getting back to our old

selves.  It felt so good to unwind in our own home.

Our return to the rig had been a little rockier than we would

have liked.  We dashed first to San Diego and then to San

Francisco in pursuit of one final sailboat deal before giving up for

the season.  We had learned over the course of the preceding

months that the sailboat brokerage business is not one for the faint

of heart.  It is a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world of ruthless

backstabbers.  One broker told us how another had robbed him of

a deal at a boat show and then gloated openly for days afterwards.

Another lamented that his employer had stolen a deal from him at

the last minute and refused to pay his commission after he had

invested weeks of effort in the transaction.  He later found out the

employer owed other employees tens of thousands of dollars in

commissions too.  Apparently honesty isn't a policy in that industry.

So it was no surprise when the boat that we had been assured had

air conditioning ("I saw the compressor myself") turned out not to.  However, it was a very big surprise when on

the same day, in the same town (tony Sausalito), a pair of well respected brokers who had been selling one of

the highest end European brands of yachts for years got hauled off to jail for embezzling several hundred

thousand dollars from their clients.  How reassuring (though depressing) to discover that our assessment of the

California boat business was right on the mark.

We were able to laugh about all that now, in the shade of a tall pine with the water glistening on the rocks in

front of us.  Our dream had sent us on a wild goose chase, including a whirlwind tour of Michigan.  We hadn't

ended up where we expected, but all had turned out well.  These woods, this town, our trailer -- all wonderful.

We were living a dream right now, and, as life has taught us over the years, dreams can

be very flirtatious and hard to capture.  Sometimes they make us feel like toddlers,

running around on stubby legs, waving our arms, chasing butterflies.  The best moments

in life are gifted to us like jewels from leprechauns, unexpectedly, as if by magic.

Thank goodness for our beautiful national forests.  As we hung around Ketchum for a

month, we were able to take our "summer cottage" from one priceless creek-side

campsite to another stunning mountain-view campsite, and enjoy exquisite scenery all

around us every day.

We had partied long and hard with friends and family all winter, and then we had eaten

our way around Michigan for almost two months.  Who can pass up fresh raspberry pie

made by the Amish?  Or hot-out-of-the-oven pastries and cookies at a cute Canadian

farm stand overlooking Lake Erie?  Not us!  But now our clothes told the rest of the story,

as everything we owned was too tight.  It was time to get fit and healthy again.  We

started doing daily runs and bike rides, and we got our hand weights out of their hiding spot way under

the back seat of the truck.

But man, were we sore.  A little exercise sent us

straight to bed for an afternoon nap each day.

What's more, the sun didn't crest the mountains

until after 9:00 in the morning, so why get out of

bed before that?  For a while I think all we did

was sleep, exercise and nibble a little here and

there.  We had driven 4,000 miles around

Michigan, and done another 1,600 to get here

from California.  It felt really good just to stop.

And what a place to do it: Ketchum and Sun

Valley are worthy of a really long visit.
















































































































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