Idaho is more than potato fields! From spectacular hiking trails to epic biking routes, learn why this low-key destination is one of America's best kept secrets
News flash: Idaho has a whole lot more to offer than just potato fields. This Rocky Mountain state is the perfect destination for adrenaline junkies and solitude-seekers alike, especially in the Sun Valley area. Nestled in central Idaho, the valley takes advantage of its place among cascading rivers, rugged mountains, and scenic wilderness. While it's a popular destination for skiers during the winter months, it's during the summertime that you can have the most fun staying fit.
Located in the western portion of the mountain time zone, Sun Valley stays light until close to 10 p.m. during Daylight Savings Time. Translation: there are more hours to fit in the activities available right outside your door. From hiking and biking to trail running and swimming, the opportunities to work up a sweat while exploring the great outdoors are endless.
But if that's not enough, this destination is more remote than other popular mountain towns. In fact, many celebrities—including Tom Hanks, Demi Moore, Justin Timberlake, and Ashton Kutcher—flee to this secluded area to escape the constant craze of big cities. So if you're looking for a place to truly get away, Sun Valley is your ticket. Here's how to discover the Idaho you don't know. (And don't miss our Healthy Travel Guide to Aspen, Colorado.)
For housing that'll make you feel like a local, head to the neighboring town of Ketchum. We recommend renting a condo at Snowstar Condomiums (pictured above, left) or utilizing sites like visitsunvalley.com or airbnb.com for other options. Snowstar is located just steps from a paved running and biking path, perfect for exploring the local landscape and the River Run trails for hiking, running, or mountain biking. It's also just a short walk or bike ride away from the small yet charming downtown area that caters to a healthy lifestyle and has everything you need during your stay. You'll enjoy the comforts of home in what feels like a cozy, mountain cabin.
For upscale accommodations, the recently renovated Sun Valley Lodge (pictured above, right) offers spacious guestrooms (starting at just $126 per night), a luxurious spa, pool café, and all new restaurants and lounges. Here, you'll be "roughing it in luxury," while taking advantage of the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges. If the weather forecast doesn't favor your outdoor plans, you can fit in a sweat session at the state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga studio, or the glass-enclosed outdoor pool. (Check out more of The 8 Best Hotels for Healthy Travel.)
Stay in Shape
Just because you decide to take a vacation doesn't mean your fitness routine has to too. There are plenty of ways to fit in a workout that's so fun it doesn't feel like work. Summer visitors can choose from the tried-and-true activities like hiking and trail running, but it's cycling that's recently exploded in popularity.
With more than 30 miles of paved, car-free paths and over 400 miles of single track accessible right from town (not to mention 3,400 feet of vertical drop at the lift-served Bald Mountain), Sun Valley offers both road cyclists and mountain bikers a taste of two-wheeled nirvana. If cycling is your thing, don't miss Rebecca Rusch's Private Idaho event hosted by professional mountain biker and Ketchum resident Rebecca Rusch on September 5th and 6th. Private Idaho is a truly unique, gravel-filled way to experience the area by bike, but even if you don't ride, there are tons of fun and family-friendly events scheduled for the entire weekend. You can find out more about Private Idaho and other events along the SRAM Gold Rusch Tour here.
Outside of biking, hikers will love Adam's Gulch in the Sawtooth National Forest. There are trails to suit any level of experience and out-and-back options for shorter outings. For some friendly competition, pick up a game of tennis at Sun Valley Lodge or frisbee golf at the dog park on Bald Mountain road. Cool off by going for a dip at Big Rock, or if you prefer to stay indoors, the fitness center at Zenergy offers classes like yoga, Pilates, and indoor cycling as well as aquatics training. Get your TRX fix at Hardcore Training Center or start each day with sun salutations at Gather Yoga Studio. In Sun Valley, you'll exhaust yourself before you exhaust the different ways to stay active. (Can't make it to Idaho? See if any of these 10 Picturesque National Parks Worth Hiking are closer to home.)
Fuel Your Trip
You can't possibly stay in or near Ketchum without visiting Velocio (pictured above, left). Start your morning off with an espresso or iced latte and a warm greeting from coffee zealot Paul, who will remember your name after just one visit and brighten your entire day with his good-natured personality. In the afternoon, refuel right with fresh, locally and nationally sourced grab-and-go foods, or celebrate a really hard-earned effort with a draught beer at the bar. The spacious, modern design, ample seating, and central location make it the ideal stop-in spot no matter what time of day.
For a more formal (but still health-conscious) meal, check out Enoteca (pictured above, center) for small plates or wood-fired pizza, Rickshaw for intimate, Asian-inspired street food, Glow for nutritious organic and vegan smoothies, or The Grill at Knob Hill (pictured above, right) for fresh fish, veggies, and outdoor seating in a beautiful garden setting.
For a taste of Sun Valley's culture and history, be sure to visit the Ernest Hemingway Memorial on Trail Creek Road. The Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author moved to Sun Valley in 1939, the same year he finished his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, which he worked on while staying at the Sun Valley Lodge. Hemingway is buried in Ketchum Cemetary, and his memorial—though decidedly understated and peaceful—is a unique site to see while walking, running or biking along the Trail Creek path.