More: Your guide to Sun Valley in fall


Autumn in always sunny Sun Valley, Idaho, sees few tourists. Days are warm, nights are cool―and rates drop at the area's otherwise pricey hotels and restaurants.


Just ask the lucky locals―fall is the perfect time to visit.


Photo by Glenn Oakley

Aspens, empty trails, and reduced rates make fall the ideal time to visit

Lisa Taggart

Autumn in always-sunny Sun Valley, Idaho sees few tourists. Days are warm, nights are cool ― and rates drop at the area's otherwise pricey hotels and restaurants. Just ask the lucky locals ― fall is the perfect time to visit.


Sun Valley is 173 miles east of Boise. Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley compose the 20-mile-long Wood River Valley. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is 15 minutes north of Ketchum.

Hailey's Friedman Memorial Airport is the closest; those at Twin Falls and Boise are also good options. For more information, contact the Sun Valley Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau or 800/634-3347).


Boundary Campground. Bring an extra sweater and sleep under the stars. 9 first-come, first-served sites from $10; open through Oct; Sawtooth National Forest, Ketchum Ranger District; 208/622-5371.

Knob Hill Inn. The fanciest lodging in town has 26 large rooms and a traditional European motif. A short walk from shops. From $250; or 800/526-8010.

Sun Valley Lodge and Inn. A mile from Ketchum, the recently updated 148-room lodge, built in 1936, has French-country style, as does the 109-room inn. From $179; or 800/786-8259.WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

Cavallino Lounge. Swank new martini bar has become the hot spot in town. Closed Sun; 380 N. Leadville Ave., Ketchum; no phone.

Ciro Restaurant & Wine Bar. Wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and wine list rival any you'd find in the big city. $$; 230 Walnut Ave., Ketchum; 208/727-1800.

CK's Real Food. A little house turns out dynamite dishes featuring local produce, fresh fish, and organic meats prepared with a sophisticated touch. Nice wine list. $$$; 320 S. Main St., Hailey; 208/788-1223.

Java on Fourth Cafe. Local morning hangout with bagels, pastries, and the Bowl of Soul, a cinnamon-chocolate-espresso concoction. $; 191 Fourth St., Ketchum; 208/726-2882.


Adams Gulch. Good out-and-back hiking and mountain biking, with golden fall color and views of rocky 8,275-foot Griffin Butte. From State 75 (11/2 miles north of Ketchum), turn east onto Adams Gulch Rd. and follow it to the end. Sawtooth National Forest; or 208/622-5371.

Baker Lake Trail. A tree-lined 2-mile (one-way) hike climbs a slope in the Smoky Mountains to Baker Lake. Trailhead at west end of Baker Creek Rd. 162, 16 miles north of Ketchum, off State 75; Sawtooth National Forest, Ketchum Ranger District; 208/622-5371.

Ernest Hemingway Festival. The second annual ode to the author and former Wood River Valley resident. The four-day festival includes tours of Hemingway's haunts, film screenings, and a book fair. Sep 28-Oct 1; from $20; Dollar Mountain Lodge, on Dollar Rd., Sun Valley; or 866/549-5783.

Sturtevants Mountain Outfitters. Pick up free hiking maps and rent rods and bikes. 340 N. Main St., Ketchum; 208/726-4501.

Wood River Trails. A popular 22-mile-long paved system. Access at east end of Sun Valley Rd., Blaine County Recreation District; 208/788-2117.

Next: Soaking up Sun Valley's golden season

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