Ketchum Farmer's Market
Sun Valley outdoor skating rink.
Outdoor restaurant overlooking the skating rink.
A young skater gets some coaching.
Quaint buildings around the Sun Valley resort.
Swans greet visitors to the Sun Valley Lodge
Welcome to Sun Valley
A bright fire crackled in the Lodge's fireplace.
Upstairs brunch was being served.
Arnold in the Austrian Alps of the west.
Figure skating legends Dorothy Hamill and
Ore wagon for shuttling ore
and supplies between mining
One of the Ketchum Fast
Freight ore wagons.
Fog drifts between the mountains.
Rolling mountains surround the town.
What a spot for a summer cabin.
The paved bike path near Elkhorn.
Pre-performance talk at the Sun Valley Pavilion.
Listeners picnic on the lawn outside.
The Sun Valley Symphony Orchestra.
A young concert-goer blows bubbles.
Fairy princesses show us the Wolf.
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
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
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
heroines of my
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:
- Sun Valley, Idaho – A Joyful Return to a Favorite RV Spot! 08/13/22
- Sun Valley Idaho – An RV Traveler’s Delight in Ketchum, ID! 09/16/16
- Sun Valley Idaho – in Trailer Life Magazine! 08/07/15
- Craters of the Moon + Cataclysms from Sun Valley ID to Alpine WY 09/02/14
- The Artsy Side of Sun Valley, ID 08/26/14
- Ice Queens of Sun Valley, ID 08/21/14
- Sun Valley Road Rally – Go Granny Go! 08/16/14
- Sun Valley Idaho – RV Camping, Car Racing & Skating Legends 08/06/09
- Sun Valley & Ketchum ID – Beauty & Fun in the Mountains! 07/25/09