Sun Valley Idaho – Music, History & Celebrities

RV blog post - We loved Sun Valley with its cozy Lodge and cool summer outdoor ice skating rink, free outdoor symphony concerts & miles of bike paths.

Ketchum Farmer's Market

Sun Valley Lodge skating rink

Sun Valley outdoor skating rink.

Sun Valley Lodge skating rink

Outdoor restaurant overlooking the skating rink.

Sun Valley Lodge skating rink

A young skater gets some coaching.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

Quaint buildings around the Sun Valley resort.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

Swans greet visitors to the Sun Valley Lodge

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

Welcome to Sun Valley


Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

A bright fire crackled in the Lodge's fireplace.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho

Upstairs brunch was being served.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho celebrity photos

Arnold in the Austrian Alps of the west.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho celebrity photos

Figure skating legends Dorothy Hamill and

Charlie Tickner.

Sun Valley Lodge Idaho celebrity photos

Peggy Fleming.

Ketchum Idaho Ore Wagons

Ore wagon for shuttling ore

and supplies between mining


Ketchum Idaho Ore Wagons

One of the Ketchum Fast

Freight ore wagons.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Fog drifts between the mountains.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Rolling mountains surround the town.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

What a spot for a summer cabin.

Paved bike path near Elkhorn Idaho

The paved bike path near Elkhorn.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra

Pre-performance talk at the Sun Valley Pavilion.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra Pavilion

Listeners picnic on the lawn outside.

Sun Valley Pavilion

The Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts

A young concert-goer blows bubbles.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts

Fairy princesses show us the Wolf.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts


Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts

...and curtsies.

Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra free concerts

The instrument "petting zoo."

Ketchum welcomes all visitors

whether funky or fancy.

Funny statues are everywhere.

Both big kids and little kids paused by

this stuffed bear for a quick hug.

Our stay in Ketchum will always be a highlight among our

travel memories.

Ketchum & Sun Valley, Idaho

August, 2009 - We had been in Ketchum / Sun Valley for several

weeks, but we were enjoying ourselves so much we didn't want to

leave.  The town was bustling with activity, and there was always

something going on.  We arrived in time for the Farmer's Market one

afternoon, and after eyeing up the beautiful produce, we made our way

over to the Sun Valley Lodge.

I had heard about the summer figure skating at Sun Valley when I was

growing up, and it was a thrill to see the outdoor rink.  It is shaded from

the hot sun by a mesh canopy, and it sits across from an open air

outdoor restaurant at the Lodge.

On Saturday nights in summertime there is a full-fledged ice show, and

diners can enjoy a gourmet meal at the cafe's tables while watching

World and Olympic champions perform.

While we were there it was an open public skating session.  Kids and

adults of all ages were playing, practicing and having fun.  We watched

a few young skaters diligently training with their coaches.

The Sun Valley Lodge complex is spread out over a large area and

includes not just the outdoor ice rink but an indoor one as well.  There

are extensive walking paths that wander between quaint buildings and

little shops, taking guests to the Opera House and the Sun Valley

Pavilion where the symphony orchestra performs outdoors every night in

August.  We got lost quite a few times and found ourselves going in


There is a little pond that is home to

several swans.  The Lodge itself is a

grand old structure with an elegant


Inside the Lodge we found a cozy fire

burning brightly in an inviting living room

just inside the lobby.  Upstairs there is a

huge library that overlooks the outdoor

skating rink, as well as an elegant

dining room.

Along the walls there are dozens of

photographs of all the celebrities that

have visited Sun Valley.  Averell

Harriman, Sun Valley's founder in 1936,

invited everybody who was Somebody

to be a guest

at his resort.


legends were regulars, and he encouraged artists and writers like Ernest

Hemingway to make this new resort area their home.  Many presidents

and their families were photographed out on the slopes.

I was naturally

drawn to the

figure skating

heroines of my

youth:  Dorothy

Hamill and Peggy

Fleming.  We also

visited the Ski &

Heritage Museum where there are skis of every imaginable type, many

hand-made by miners and ranchers to get around in winter.  The museum

showed video clips of 1956 Olympic champions Dick Button and Tenley

Albright at their winning moments.  Every famous winter athlete has spent

time in Sun Valley.

Over at the Ore

Wagon museum we

learned that fifty years before Sun Valley was created, Ketchum was a

hotbed of mining activity.  "Galena," a

silver-lead ore, was found throughout the

mountains in the area, and the ore was

carried by wagons down to the railroad

trains and smelters in Ketchum.

The Ketchum Fast Freight Line consisted

of many teams of horses, mules and

oxen that pulled these wagons on a 160

mile loop through the rugged mountains,

stopping at the mining camps to deliver

goods and pick up loads of ore.  Thirty

wagons were on the road at any one time, and the grades these teams of 14-20

animals climbed were as steep as 12-15%.  Once the mining faded, Ketchum

became home to Peruvian sheep herders, and in 1920 was second only to Sydney,

Australia in sheep production.

Today the peaceful valley boasts multi-million dollar celebrity homes on every hillside.

A quick scan of the real estate page lists eye-popping prices that make you wonder

where the regular folks live.  Chatting with a caterer and a former maid, I learned that

most ordinary people live in the outlying towns of Hailey and Bellevue.  However, the

pretty, light fog that drifts between the mountains around Ketchum/Sun Valley each

morning doesn't know the difference between miners, sheep herders and VIPs.

We took the paved bike path through the Elkhorn area southeast of town and stopped

at Hemingway's memorial, a humble little statue under a tree.

The views all around town are spectacular, and it is easy to imagine an artist finding

his muse in this setting.  A group of artists were coming to town to set up easels

outdoors and paint, but our visit had drawn to a close before they arrived.

We did watch Clint Eastwood's movie Pale Rider while we

were in the area, however.  The movie was set in the Boulder

Mountains just north of town where

we camped, and we learned that the

movie people built an entire town

back in the hills, shot the movie and

then removed the town once they

were done.  It was a classic Clint flick,

where his stone-faced, gritty, lonely

character took on the gang of local

bullies by himself, liberating the

defenseless, harrassed miners who

had been the bullies' easy prey.

It is hard to imagine the size, sounds and smells of the mine and smelter

that dominated the Ketchum landscape in the 1880's.  Today there is a

brand new $5 million symphony concert hall, the Sun Valley Pavilion,

where the prestigious Sun Valley Symphony is in residence all summer,

treating the locals and visitors to beautiful (and free) music almost every


We sat outside on the grass with the locals on opening night while

the sponsors of the summer's series got wined and dined inside

the hall with a private concert.  The music is piped outside all

around the hall so listeners can picnic in the grass during each

concert if they wish.  Humming along to Rodgers and Hammerstein's

best songs, we were hooked.  We returned for three more concerts

when the seats inside were free and the music soared.

They offered a Brahms night, and I was torn between that and the

group bike ride up the long climb to Galena Lodge.  Why do the best

things always happen at the same time?  Brahms won, as I love his'

dark and brooding music, and wanted to hear it live.  Mark wasn't

sure about going until I pointed out that one of the pieces they were

performing, the Academic Festival Overture, sets the stage in one of

his all-time favorite movies:  Animal House.

One Saturday was Family Day.  It

started with a doll parade in the

morning, where every little girl in town

dressed up as a fairy princess, and it

ended with a symphony concert

geared towards kids.  We watched

the many fairy princesses prance

around the lawn outside the Pavilion

during the concert.

Some little girls nearby acted out all

the scenes in Peter and the Wolf.

They showed us the cat, the little bird in the tree, the duck

quacking in the pond and, of course, the wolf.

We were treated to some

pirouettes and fancy moves, and

finally a curtsy.  The symphony

orchestra had an instrument

"petting zoo" that day where you

could check out the instruments up

close.  There was a festive, easy-

going air to everything the

symphony orchestra did.

Before the concerts, you could

attend the final rehearsals for that

evening's performance and listen to

a short lecture about the music to be played that

night.  Afterwards, the players and audience

descended on the town.  All the stores stayed open

late, and the coffee shops, bistros and even the

grocery store were suddenly flooded with ruffled white

tuxedo shirts, black dress pants and shiny shoes as

the orchestra players mingled with family and friends.

We enjoyed every minute of

our stay in this area.  For all

the high-brow music and

fancy homes, there was also a playful side to this town.  Sitting

outside a coffee shop one morning, we watched a roller-blader

doing laps around the center of town.  He kept a smile on our

faces as he ducked and dodged and swerved in and out of


The funny dog statue near the ice cream shop was watching him

too.  Even the silly stuffed bear that waited patiently outside the

chocolate shop kept an eye on him.

We had passed a pretty flower-lined fence every day on our way

in and out of town, and it was with a wistful sigh that we got a

final photograph, packed up, and drove north out of town for the

last time, on our way to new sights in Stanley, Idaho.






























































































Related Post about Figure Skating:

A Unique Encounter with Figure Skating Legend Toller Cranston 01/28/15

Related posts from our RV travels to the Sun Valley area: