Sun Valley may have built a reputation as a winter wonderland, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have just as much to offer in the summer! As the snow clears out, the trails open up, and nature comes to life, you’ll discover a whole other side to the magical mountain town. While winter is ideal for snow sports, summer gives you the chance to have exciting adventures throughout Sun Valley’s many beautiful parks. You can hike, bike, and climb all through the season! But with so many parks, how can you decide where to begin? We’ve curated a list of can’t-miss parks and trails around town so that you can have the best, most adventurous summer ever!
Sawtooth National Forest
Sawtooth National Forest is a 2.1 million acre area of diverse terrain. This beautiful national forest stretches from the “basin and range” of northern Utah to the Idaho Rockies, onto the headwaters of the famed “River of No Return.” Elevations range from 4,514 feet to 12,009 feet, which makes it a prime location for activities like hiking and skiing. In fact, there are 4 ski areas on national forest land- including Sun Valley Ski Resort!
Sawtooth National Forest is home to...
- the largest whitebark pine in North America
- the only population on the planet of Christ’s Indian Paintbrush
- the longest salmon migration in the continental U.S.
Apart from the forest’s famous salmon, the animals that you may spot around the park include deer, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, gray wolves, wolverines, black bear, and many species of birds.
There are ample opportunities to enjoy activities throughout Sawtooth National Forest.
If you love to hike, then you won’t want to miss the outstanding trails in the region. Within 5 miles of Ketchum and Sun Valley, there are more than 40 miles of world class trails for you to enjoy. Within 10 miles of Ketchum and Sun Valley, there are more than 250 miles of trails to tackle! For those based in Sun Valley, we recommend…
- Proctor Mountain Trail: Known for great views and wildflowers. Moderate, 4.2 miles, loop.
- Fox Creek Trail: Has lots of wildflowers, plus great forest views. Moderate, 5.3 miles, loop.
- Ruud Mountain and Proctor Mountain Loop: Known for wildflowers and wildlife. Hard, 5.4 miles, loop.
- Mill Lake: Sunny and rocky, but full of wildlife and water views. Moderate, 4.4 miles, out and back.
- Pioneer Cabin via Hyndman Trail: Has beautiful forest and river terrain, plus active wildlife. Moderate, 8 miles, out and back.
Be sure to check out Hemingway-Boulders National Wilderness while you’re exploring Sawtooth National Forest. Home to the Boulder Mountains (one of Idaho’s highest and wildest mountain ranges), this is an awesome hiking destination for those seeking stellar views. The elevation is extreme, but the sights are worth the struggle!
For more trails in Sawtooth National Forest (not sorted by proximity to Sun Valley), visit the park’s AllTrails page.
Salmon-Challis National Forest
Sun Valley has no shortage of forest access! Salmon-Challis National Forest covers more than 4.3 million acres of east-central Idaho, including land right around Sun Valley. This includes…
- 1.3 million acres of the Frank Church-- River of No Return Wilderness
- Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness
- the tallest peak in Idaho (Borah Peak)
- scenic Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River
If you’re an avid hiker, then you’ll love the challenging hikes at this park. Try Summit Creek (9.8 miles, out and back), Boulder Lake via Boulder Creek Trail (9.4 miles, out and back), and/or North Fork Lake Trail (6.6 miles, out and back).
For more trails in Salmon-Challis National Forest (again, not sorted by proximity to Sun Valley), visit the park’s AllTrails page.
Not all of the parks in Sun Valley are rugged. Traveling with kids? There are plenty of playgrounds and family-friendly public parks to visit!
If you’re looking for a playground, visit Atkinson Park, Little Park, or Rotary Park. We are particularly fond of Atkinson Park, which has additional amenities like basketball courts, baseball fields, and other designated athletic fields. In the summer, Rainmaker Splash Pad is an outstanding option for families looking to have fun and stay cool!
Do you have a favorite park or outdoors space to visit during the summer in Sun Valley? Share it with us in the comments!