Sun Valley Travel Guide

USA  #12 in Best Ski Vacations in the USA
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Courtesy of CodyHaskell/Getty Images

Free Things To Do in Sun Valley

If you have extra time, Sawtooth Botanical Garden is worthwhile.
  • #3
    Things to do in Sun Valley
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    #3 in Sun Valley
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Though the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is the most well-known wilderness area near Ketchum, there are multiple trails of varying difficulty in the immediate vicinity of town. If you're looking for a great workout, try the 5.3-mile Bald Mountain Trail, which winds up Bald Mountain with multiple switchbacks and rewards you handsomely at the top with panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside. This trail is accessible in the summer from the bottom of the mountain, and bikers can take lifts up via the Sun Valley ski resort to enjoy downhill rides on car-free paths.   

    If you're looking for something at an intermediate level, try the Adams Gulch Loop. This trail is most popular among mountain bikers; however, it can also be used by hikers, dog walkers and horseback riders. This iconic Sun Valley trail winds through Ketchum's countryside for approximately 7 miles, and it is relatively flat. Throughout your walk or ride, you'll notice outstanding views of the Griffin Butte, the Pioneer Mountains and the town of Ketchum itself as you adventure through aspen trees and rolling hills. Recent travelers said this trail was fun and breathtaking, but they noted that the path can get crowded (especially if you're on a bike) during the summer months.

  • #4
     Sun Valley Museum of History
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    #4 in Sun Valley
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    A remodeling of the former Ski and Heritage Museum, the Sun Valley Museum of History highlights the unique legacy and culture of the Ketchum and Sun Valley area. The museum's exhibitions inform visitors about the history of Ketchum, from its original founding as a mining and ranching hub to its development as a world-class skiing and tourism destination. Recent reviewers especially appreciated the displays of antique ski apparel and equipment, and they complimented the knowledgeable museum curator. Plus, there is a special exhibit specifically about the life and death of famed writer and Ketchum resident Ernest Hemingway.

    The property that houses the museum, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located in downtown Ketchum. The exhibits are open Wednesday to Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., and admission is free (though donations are accepted).  For more information about what is currently on display, check out the museum's website.

  • #5
    Sawtooth Botanical Garden
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    #5 in Sun Valley
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    A showcase of natural beauty and high-altitude plants, the Sawtooth Botanical Garden is a must-stop for any plant lover or gardener. The 5-acre garden showcases both native and cultivated plants that represent the five biomes of south-central Idaho. What's more, there are art installations and educational exhibits interspersed among the plants. The crown jewel of the garden, though, is the interactive Tibetan prayer wheel in the center of the Garden of Infinite Passion. Featuring a handmade, free-spinning wheel imported from India, the exhibit contains about one million hand-printed prayers on individual pieces of paper. Visitors can spin the wheel themselves and learn about Tibetan traditions of meditation and religion. 

    Access to the Sawtooth Botanical is free (though donations are welcome). Plus, the gardens remain open to the public from dawn to dusk year-round (the visitor center has hours that vary by season). Past visitors provide positive reviews of the garden, with many people saying that it's ideal for a quick and relaxing stroll. To access the garden from downtown Ketchum, drive about 4 miles south on Highway 75.