In partnership with Visit Sun Valley.
Places are funny. Most enter our lives and then fade into a distant memory innocuously enough. But then there’s a different type of place. The type that sticks with us long after we’ve returned home – as if we were already tied to it by some intangible cosmic connection. A connection that calls us back when we least expect it.
Growing up in Washington, Idaho has always been in my backyard. We would see each other on occasion as neighbors tend to do, exchanging pleasantries from a distance, or a passing smile on a cross-country road trip. But for years we remained strangers. Then last fall, I spent some time exploring the Sawtooth Mountains and soaking in hot springs around Stanley, Idaho. I was only there a few days, but sometimes that’s all it takes. I knew even before I left that I would be leaving a little piece of myself behind. So when the opportunity to visit Sun Valley this winter popped up in my inbox, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Because of course, Idaho was already calling me back.
Sun Valley is America’s first destination winter resort. As such you can find everything you would expect to find in a resort town—world class skiing, a picturesque alpine town, and the occasional celebrity siting. Granted, those things alone are enough to put it any ski enthusiasts bucket lists. But there’s a lot more to Sun Valley than powder runs and apres ski. It’s also the perfect spot to plan your next wellness getaway. These Sun Valley based activities are sure to leave you feeling healthy and happy this winter—even if you never hit the slopes!
Break A Sweat At Zenergy Spa
Zenergy Spa is a wellness oasis in the heart of Ketchum. If you’re looking to sweat it out, this is the place. Their state of the art cardio & weight training gym is sure to get your heart pumping. Or you can choose from a wide range of weekly classes in their group fitness, indoor cycling, and yoga studios.
But Zenergy isn’t just a gym. Far from it! The luxury spa offers a wide variety of services, including massage, acupuncture, and reflexology for your sore muscles. But my favorite amenity is their heated outdoor saline pool and jacuzzi. Overlooking Bald Mountain, the soothing water is the perfect way to wrap up any workout. Especially if you can time it with sunrise. As it turns out, there’s no better way to start the day than with a good sweat, followed by a smoothie and sunrise soaking session!
Experience Magic Above The Valley
When the sun fades in the valley, the lights down in Ketchum begin to glow, and the resulting views are nothing short of magic. There are a number of vantage points above town to take it all in. Some look down over the town toward Baldy, while others look out toward the Pioneer Mountains. Some are easy to access, while others are more involved. But all are beautiful!
In the winter the easiest way to capture views looking out over the Pioneer Mountains (not shown here), is from Bald Mountain. Take the chairlift during the day or skin/hike up to it after 4pm. The best view is located at the bottom of “Lower College” on the ski hill. Alternatively, for stunning views of Bald Mountain, hike up to the top of the original Proctor Mountain Ski Lift. Snow shoes and poles highly recommended!
Day Trip To Galena Lodge
Located in the heart of the Boulder Mountains, Galena Lodge is about 30 minutes north of Sun Valley Resort and Ketchum. Galena Lodge is home to some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the United States. The North Valley Trail System has over 50 kilometers of Nordic trails and over 25km of snowshoe trails for you to explore. If you’ve never tried snow showing or cross-country skiing before, not to worry. Galena Lodge has something for all skill levels.
Show up at the lodge in the morning to rent your gear and spend the rest of the day traversing through a winter wonderland. When you’re done playing in the snow, warm up by the fireplace in the lodge with a hot chocolate. If you’re up for a bigger adventure, there are also a number of semi-backcountry yurts on the property you can book for overnight excursions.
Take A Drive along the Sawtooth Scenic Byway
Part of the Sawtooth Scenic Byway, Highway 75 between Sun Valley and Stanley is the stuff road trip dreams are made of. Except this road trip will only take you an hour! The drive is jam packed with spectacular mountain views year round, but there’s something particularly special about seeing the mountains all dressed up in their winter whites. If you make the trip to Galena Lodge, you will have already done the first 23 miles of the drive, so you might as well keep going! Some of the best views are only a few minutes further up the road at the Galena Summit Overlook. From the overlook you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the vast Sawtooth Valley.
As much as I love playing outside in the snow, one of my favorite things to do when temperatures drop, is snuggle up with a good book and no distractions. The balance between adventure and chill time that’s key to any successful wellness getaway is exactly what you’ll find at Hotel Ketchum. Newly remodeled, and brimming with modern charm, Hotel Ketchum was the perfect launching pad for bigger adventures in the area. They enthusiastically helped with hike recommendation, photography logistics, and even loaned me gear for my excursions. And at the end of the day, I was always excited to get back to my room!
Eat Dinner On Top Of A Mountain
Perched atop the Roundhouse Gondola on Baldy, the Roundhouse has been serving up panoramic views and soul soothing food since 1939. Even though the restaurant is located on the slopes, you don’t have to be a skier to enjoy the experience! If you want to revel in the views without the day of skiing, you can take the gondola up to the top of Baldy and then return the same way after your meal. Oh, and the views on the way up aren’t too shabby either!
Winter can be a particularly stressful time for people – myself included. When the days are short and cold we stop getting outside and doing the other activities that keep our mind, body and spirit healthy. It can feel like the only way to get moving is with a lift ticket. But that doesn’t have to be the case! In a place like Sun Valley that was built with recreation in mind, there are all sorts of ways to reconnect with that happier/healthier version of you that tends to hibernate in the winter.
Photographs created in collaboration with Quin Schrock.
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