A Taste of Winter – Ketchum, ID

Ketchum, ID

After our visit to Idaho Falls we headed west on US 20 for a 150 mile journey to Ketchum.  For long stretches the highway is straight and flat.    A strong cross wind made for a “hold on tight” drive.

US 20 west from Idaho Falls

After passing through the little town of Arco the road skirts the northern edge of Craters of the Moon National Monument.   The monument encompass three major lava fields and covers 53,571 acres.  We didn’t stop, as we have visited this monument in the past.

Lava fields

Hills west of Craters of the Moon

Once in Ketchum we set up the motorhome in The Meadows RV Park.  It’s not the nicest park we’ve been in but it will have to do, as it is the only full hook-up park in the area.  There are numerous forest service campgrounds around and we saw some nice boondocking spots outside of town if you don’t need hook-ups.

Once settled, we drove four miles north into Ketchum to look around.  Ketchum (pop. 2,680) is the main town in the area, but on Google maps the adjacent community of Sun Valley gets the designation.  Sun Valley (pop. 1,400) is a residential resort area built in the late 1930s as the first ski destination location in the U.S.  We arrived in Ketchum and set out to check out the visitor center and the local chain coffee shop headquartered in Seattle.  What do you know?  They both share the same facility.  And they are located on Ketchum Town Square, with outdoor seating with views of the ski area on nearby Bald Mountain.

Ketchum Town Square

Once we finished reading brochures of the area, we drove northeast a short distance (maybe a mile) to check out what we thought was the town of Sun Valley.  Turns out there is no “town,”  just a large lodge surrounded by expensive houses and condos.  We continued up the road as it entered a narrow valley and became a dirt forest service road.  Although a sign warned the road was not maintained, somebody is maintaining it as it is in great shape as it climbs steeply up out of the valley.

After a few miles of “up” the road flattened out as it entered an alpine forest.  We turned around at that point and enjoyed the views as we descended.

The weather the next day was sunny but chilly, with temperatures in the mid 50s.  We headed north on ID 75 out of Ketchum into the Sawtooth Mountains.  The road goes over the Galena Pass (8,700′) as it heads for the little town of Stanley.  We stopped in the Galena Lodge intending on taking a short hike.  But the temperature had dropped down to 44 degrees, the wind was blowing, and a light snow was in the air, so we decided to just stay in the warm Jeep and take the scenic ride all the way to Stanley.

Rte. 75 north into the Sawtooth Mountains

As we crossed the Galena Pass we had great views of the valley below, as well as a number of snow squalls in the distance.

Heading down out of Galena Pass

Sawtooth Mountains

After stopping in the tiny community of Stanley (pop. 600) for fuel, we began the return trip south.  Just south of Stanley we took a side road to check out Redfish Lake.  The road into the lake area had great views of the Sawtooth Mountains.

Sawtooth Mountains

Redfish Lake

While driving back out of the lake area to the highway we ran into a significant snow squall.  OK, it is the day before the first day of summer so you should expect a little snow, right?

On the trip north we passed through an area called Smiley Creek.  It has a grass airstrip and there was a line of small planes parked along side the strip.  So on the return trip we pulled in to take a look.

The group of planes turned out to be part of the Smiley Creek 12th Annual Fly-in.  It must have been pretty cold for those sleeping in the tents set up next to the planes!

We continued the return trip and began to go up and over the Galena Pass.  We stopped at an observation area where we had taken some nice photos on the trip north, but the views were not so good on the trip south.

Snow north of Galena Pass

The snow continued (although not sticking on the road) and the temperature dropped.

Snow south of Galena Pass

The forecast for tomorrow looks like a bit of rain, so we may not be going very far from town.  But who knows what lies ahead.

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32 Responses to A Taste of Winter – Ketchum, ID

  1. exploRVistas says:

    Wow…those valleys are stunning. Love the planes at the fly in. The snow…not so much. Hope they brought de-icer!

    • placestheygo says:

      The valleys were deep, long, and so green, Jim. Hopefully the fly-in pilots stayed for the weekend because the weather did improve for them but still quite chilly at night.

  2. Nancy says:

    Gorgeous views! And it was a lodge not a town! Lol! Cool planes!

  3. Stanley is actually known as one of the coldest places in the U.S. It was too cold there in the summer for us!
    Hope you have good enough weather to hike up to Pioneer Cabin. It was our favorite trail in that area.

    • placestheygo says:

      Well, we saw Stanley in all its cold glory!! Our weather did improve but only for hiking near town with showers every afternoon. We didn’t attempt the Pioneer Cabin. We haven’t been on a ten miler in a long time. It also sounded like a lot of forest hiking which isn’t our thing either. With only three full days planned we didn’t really have tons of time. Guess a return trip might be in the cards in the future.

  4. Jim and Barb says:

    Brrrr…. beautiful but we have seen enough snow for a while!

  5. Argh…this weather is putting a damper on your hiking. Thank goodness for beautiful drives instead!

    • placestheygo says:

      The weather has certainly caused a lot of plan changing this spring, for sure. But we managed to do most of what we wanted in each area with Plan C. Yes, the beautiful drives have saved us a couple times.

  6. Ingrid says:

    I loved the Sawtooth’s and Redfish Lake, but the town of Ketchum/Sun Valley didn’t grab me like places in Colorado do. Hope it warms for you soon!

    • placestheygo says:

      Not having visited many of the similar towns in Colorado we can’t compare yet. But this area does have draw because of the endless outdoor activities. It would be nice to return one day and do some more extensive hiking on the miles of trails.

  7. Jodee Gravel says:

    Those Sawtooth Mountains are so beautiful!! Good to know Sun Valley isn’t a town 🙂 I’m amazed at how late we’re still getting fresh snow. Those skies are sure ominous behind the planes! We’re looking forward to visiting the area in late September.

  8. Joe Taylor says:

    Gorgeous drive…even with the snow squalls! It’s so crazy how the weather continues to be “the news”.

  9. pmbweaver says:

    I am following along on your cold adventure on FB. The drive was beautiful, but not so much the weather.

  10. Laurel says:

    That is just not okay that the temperature is 32 degrees and there’s snow on the day before summer. I like your back-up plan of “jeep hiking” on a windy day with temps of 44 degrees. The mountains are gorgeous, and you got to stay warm and enjoy the scenery. 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      The snow is beautiful as long as I don’t have to spend a long time out in it. Makes for a fun autohiking adventure. It was toasty warm inside the car, and we just laughed as the temperature on the outside continued to drop.

  11. We were supposed to visit all of these areas last summer, but had to change our plans. Thanks for taking me on a tour of such a stunningly beautiful area… and thanks for lessening the sting just a bit by telling me it’s still snowing there. Craziness!!

    • placestheygo says:

      Seems that changing plans are part of life on the road (or in our case months on the road). This wasn’t our original plan. We were suppose to be in the Northern Cascades but had to changed that with all the snow they received. So that has been pushed back. Glad we could share a little with you.

  12. geogypsy2u says:

    It’s pretty from inside the warm jeep. Winter just keeps hanging on.

  13. Steve & Dianne Colibaba says:

    Crazy weather and a mean looking sky at the airfield.
    Safe travels!

  14. Crazy weather! It was dang chilly up in the Bighorn Mountains–i never wore those short sleeve shirts or shorts I took!

    • placestheygo says:

      That’s what happened to us while in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Lots of jeans, long sleeves, and flannel PJ’s. However, here in BC we just left our jeans in MH. I don’t believe we will need them this summer even once.

  15. regularguyadventures says:

    I was just there this past Thursday. I saw many of those same sights.

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