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Lying within the greater Wood River valley, Sun Valley Idaho is in the central part of the United States of America's state of Idaho in Blaine County, a resort city, next to the city of Ketchum.
Visitors from all over the world come to Sun Valley Idaho for it's hiking, cycling, tennis, trail riding, ice skating, and skiing. At the 2000 census, the population was 1,427. Most residents come from major west coast cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, more distantly New York and Chicago, and few stay year round. The elevation at the Lodge of Sun Valley is 5,920 feet (1,804 m). Approximately 15 miles (24 km) south, the area is served by Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey. Accessed over Galena Summit on Highway 75, the Sawtooth Scenic Byway, tourists to Sun Valley are relatively close to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
View From Galena Summit
Including the valley region winding south to Hailey and the neighboring city of Ketchum, the name Sun Valley is used generally to speak of the area surrounding the city.
Sun Valley Horse
Including Lars Ilis, Tony Robbins, Barbara Kent, Mohamed al-Fayed, Steve Wynn, Jamie Lee Curtis, Richard Dreyfuss, Ashton Kutcher, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, Peter Cetera, Demi Moore, Steve Miller, Tom Hanks, Ernest Hemingway, Adam West, Walter Annenberg, Mats Wilander and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sun Valley Idaho has been the seasonal home to the powerful, famous, and rich.
To increase ridership on Union Pacific passenger trains in the West, the first winter resort in the United States was developed by W. Averell Harriman, chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad. An increase in participation in winter sports was spurred by the success of the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Similar to those he enjoyed in the Swiss Alps, such as Davos and St. Moritz, Harriman, a lifelong skier, determined that America would embrace a destination mountain resort. Harriman, during the winter of 1935-36, enlisted the services of Felix Schaffgotsch, an Austrian count, to travel across the western United States to locate the perfect site for a winter resort.
Schaffgotsch visited Grand Targhee, Jackson Hole, Pocatello, the Wasatch Mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park, Zion, the San Bernardino Mountains, Yosemite, Mount Hood and Mount Rainier areas. He backtracked toward the Ketchum area in central Idaho, late in his trip and on the verge of abandoning his search for the perfect location for a mountain resort development. The Count went to explore when a Union Pacific employee in Boise had casually mentioned that the rail spur to Ketchum cost the company more money for snow removal than any other branch line.
Schaffgotsch selected it as the site because he was impressed by the absence of wind, moderate elevation, abundant sunshine, adequate snowfall, and combination of its surrounding mountains and Bald Mountain. Harriman agreed when he visited several weeks later. It was built in 7 months for $1.5 million; the 3,888 acre (15.73 sq km) Brass Ranch was purchased for about $4 per acre and construction had commenced that spring.
Publicist Steve Hannigan, was hired and named the resort Sun Valley, who had successfully promoted Miami Beach, Florida.
Miami Beach, Florida
Opened in December 1936, the centerpiece of the new resort was the Sun Valley Lodge. Poured inside rough sawn forms, the 220 room, X shaped lodge's exterior was constructed of concrete. Acid stained brown to imitate wood, was the wood grain impressed on the concrete finish.
The Sun Valley Lodge
Opening in 1937, the village and Sun Valley Inn (once the Swiss style Challenger Inn) were also part of the initial resort. So people won't think skiing is too cold, Hannigan wanted swimming pools at Sun Valley Idaho. Circular in shape, both the Inn and the Lodge had heated outdoor swimming pools. In the hope they would be widely photographed, unique at the time, Hannigan had the pools designed this way, providing free publicity, and it worked.
Sun Valley Inn Pond
In the fall of 1939, while staying in suite 206 of the Sun Valley Idaho Lodge, author Ernest Hemingway completed For Whom the Bell Tolls. Primarily from Hollywood, Hemingway and other celebrities, had been invited by Averell Harriman to the resort to help promote it. Several members of the Kennedy family, were fishing/hunting partners and frequent visitors, as were Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, Errol Flynn, and Clark Gable. Eventually relocating to Ketchum, Papa and his 4th wife are buried in the Ketchum Cemetery. Hemingway was a part time resident for 20 years. Dedicated in 1966, about one mile northeast of the Sun Valley Lodge, the Hemingway Memorial, is just off Trail Creek Road.
Author Ernest Hemingway
In the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade, starring bandleader Glenn Miller, Milton Berle, John Payne and Sonja Henie, Sun Valley Idaho was promoted and featured. In March 1941, scenes were shot at the resort. The skiing stand in for Henie, Sun Valley future gold medalist and transfer local was Gretchen Fraser. The film is shown nightly at the Opera House during the winter season and continuously on television in the resort's guest rooms.
Silent movie star and former actress Barbara Kent is Sun Valley's oldest resident.
Located in central Idaho within the Sawtooth National Forests, Challis, and Boise, is the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA). Including the Sawtooth Wilderness, the recreation area is managed by the United States Forest Service. Hiking, backpacking, hunting, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, camping, white water rafting, and mountain biking are activities within the roughly 778,000 acre (3,150 sq km) recreation area.
Alpine Lake In Sawtooth National Recreation Area
The SNRA has a ranger station in Stanley, near its northern boundary, and the SNRA headquarters are about seven miles (11 km) north of Ketchum on Highway 75.
Along with the Boulder Mountains, and the White Cloud Mountains, Idaho's most famous mountain range, the Sawtooth Mountains are located within the SNRA.
The Boulder Mountains
Flowing north through the Sawtooth Valley before turning east in Stanley and following the northern border of the SNRA, the headwaters of the Salmon River, also known as the River of No Return are in the SNRA. Also in the SNRA, are the headwaters of the Payette River and the Big Wood River.
The Salmon River
Created by alpine glaciers, there are hundreds of lakes in the SNRA.
Plans to reintroduce grizzly bears have been abandoned and Gray wolves were reintroduced in the 1990s. No recent sightings have been reported, but the SNRA contains prime habitat for the endangered Canada lynx and wolverines. During the winter, caribou are also known to migrate into the SNRA. Population monitoring efforts are undertaken every year for bull trout, which are the Management Indicator Species for the SNRA.
The highest peak in the Sawtooth Range of Idaho is Thompson Peak, at 10,751 feet (3,277 m) above sea level. It is also located within the Sawtooth Wilderness region of the SNRA. About six miles (9.7 km) from Thompson Peak is the town of Stanley, Idaho. Often considered to be Idaho's most famous mountain range are the Sawtooth Mountains.
Only a few miles from Thompson Peak are Little Redfish Lake and Redfish Lake and the visitor services at these locations. Neighboring Williams Peak is directly to the north.
There are four routes to the top of Thompson Peak: West Crack, Northeast Face, Southwest Couloir, and South Couloir. Take the Fishhook Creek Trail to the Alpine Way Trail from the Redfish Lake trailhead for the easiest way to access Thompson Peak. Follow the Alpine Way Trail to the base of Williams Peak before going off trail up to an unnamed lake to the northeast of Thompson Peak. Head up to the saddle between Williams and Thompson Peaks before making the class 3 scramble on the west southwest side of the summit.
Thompson Peak - Background Center, Williams Peak - Foreground Right
For those looking for an easier, very scenic hike around Sun Valley Idaho, check out Alice Lake - 8,596 ft (2,620 m). Have fun and stay on the trail!
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