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Sun Valley is one of the top mountain biking destinations that not enough people know about. It's an incredibly bike-friendly town, with tons of singletrack you can access without getting in a car, and uber fit riders everywhere you look. The locals don't seem to be protecting their secret either - they are incredibly friendly and happy to spread the word and get more folks enjoying their trails... the way it should be!
The town itself has everything you need: great restaurants and coffee shops, well-established guide services, two excellent grocery stores, and a handful of great pubs for post-ride libations. You should have no difficulty getting your bike worked on or shopping for new gear, as the Wood River Valley boasts 12 full services bike shops.
Whatever it is you need while you're in town, from where to sleep, where to eat, or where to drink, go to visitsunvalley.com. It's a well-designed website packed with information.
Springtime in the Rockies can be fickle. Sometimes it comes on with a rush, with warm temperatures and trails opening early. Other years we get a late spring with cold wet weather where the mud season seems to drag on and on. Regardless, spring brings temporary trail closures. The trails are opened as they dry out.
In general, the trails in the south valley dry out and open the earliest, with some mid-valley trail opportunities usually opening soon there after. Sections of our highest trails, and those with more northern aspects, may remain closed until June, but again, its different from year to year.
The Blaine County Recreation District Summer Traillink website is a useful site for local trail information, trail updates, and news about what trails are open and which might be closed. The site's address is:
Things can be really hot and dry in the summer, but there's a huge variety of microclimates found in the Wood River Valley. When things are hot on the valley floor our area's high alpine trails offer an escape from the heat. Many trails lead to cold mountain lakes and along creeks where shade and the presence of water make everything feel just that much cooler.
This far north, the sun rises early and you can ride until 9pm for most of the summer, so take advantage of the long summer days. As the season progresses the temperatures mellow and things get very comfortable. As fall approaches the sun gets lower in the southern sky, and with that the light in the valley seems to take on a special quality. The scenery on October afternoon rides seems to shimmer with a golden light.
In the summer, afternoon thunderstorms are common, especially in the big mountains to the north.
Camping & Lodging
During peak season, we found it challenging to find an apartment/condo to rent for a big crew. It's a popular spot, and there don't seem to be a ton of options, so plan ahead! There is, however, lots of camping to the north of Ketchum along the river. A good place to start is the Forest Service: Sawtooth National Forest
Outfitters, Tours, & Shuttles
Wood River Valley bike shops:
Backwoods, 711 N. Main St., Ketchum, (208)726-8818
Sun Valley riding is bucket list worthy, and if you're looking for advice or support for a bike trip here, definitely contact Western Spirit Cycling. Their guides have these trails dialed, plus they will get their massive support truck to camp, whip up amazing food, and keep the beer cold.
Food & Drink
Ketchum has tons of good options for food and drink. Although this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few that stood out for the Adventure Projects crew:
Enoteca serves up high end pizza and other Italian dishes, along with a killer wine and beer list. The prices are very reasonable for what you get, which is why you need to plan ahead in order to get a table!
La Parilla (280 E 6th St, Ketchum, ID 83340) This place serves simple but authentic Mexican food in a train car, just off Main Street. Great post-workout recovery food!
Velocio is an excellent coffee shop serving carefully crafted espresso drinks, teas, sandwiches and gelato.Java On Fourth is another great coffee shop. It has a very different feel from Velocio - less modern, more down home. They have good coffee, espresso and great breakfast offerings, including tasty looking pastries and muffins propped right in front of you as you wait in a steady line that's often out the door in the morning.
Perry's Restaurant in Ketchum is a great place to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner. The atmosphere is nice and low key, but the food is of a very high quality. Free wifi.
Big Wood Bread Cafe is a killer lunch spot serving awesome hot and cold sandwiches and salads on their own bread. Don't miss this place for lunch in between outings.
A locals' favorite spot is Lefty's Bar and Grill. We didn't eat there, but we hear the burgers and sandwiches are good. But their real draw is lots of good beer on tap, and an awesome hangout spot outside. You're guaranteed to hear MTB chatter on the deck at night, and you might get some ideas for a long trip!
Another good pub is Cellar Pub. They've got a good Irish Pub feel - and how can you not like a bar that has a shuffleboard table!
Powerhouse in Hailey features a bike shop, bike fitting studio, great beer and food.
The longest running coffee shop in Ketchum is The Coffee Grinder. Owner Nikki Potts serves up great coffee and food and an atmosphere where it's easy to make new friends and chat about what's happening in the valley.
Galena Lodge is 23 miles north of Ketchum on Highway 75. The trip is well worth the effort as the lodge features awesomely delicious food, a full bar, and a network of trails that is growing by the day.
After the Ride: Local Favorites
Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta
A family friendly restaurant featuring hand-tossed pizza, pasta bowls and salads. Very casual and fun fare for kids. A full take-out menu for parties and picnics is available.