It’s All Merry and Bright in the Wood River Valley

By HOLLY ENDERSBY

Sunshine — lots of it! Great venues for food and wine — so many to choose from! Super alpine and Nordic skiing, snow shoeing, ice skating, and sleigh rides galore!

If you want a whole lot of holiday happiness concentrated in one place, then head to the Wood River Valley Idaho towns of Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue, and Sun Valley Resort this season.

Start the holidays off right by designing and creating your own unique wreath or holiday center piece at the Sawtooth Botanical Gardens just off Hwy 75 south of Ketchum on Gimlet Road. The Garden will supply necessary greenery and helpful guidance. You can bring additional items from home to add inspiration to your creation.

This terrific activity is available December 1 and 2 from 9:00 p.m. and costs $25-$28 for materials. You can always go more than once and create wreaths and table pieces to decorate your home for the holidays.

Nothing says winter holidays more than snow … lots of snow! And there’s no better place for folks to experience all that white stuff than Galena Lodge, right off Hwy 75 north of Ketchum. It’s hard to imagine a better place for cross country skiing or snowshoeing than the North Valley Trail System that begins at Galena.

Over 50 kilometers of beautifully groomed trails await both classic and skate skiers. A modestly priced trail pass is required, and rentals are available on site as well. The terrain is varied and can meet the needs of the rank beginner or the most advanced skier.

A special feature is the 30-kilometer Harriman Trail that leaves from Galena Lodge and winds its way gently to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area parking area near Ketchum. If you’re not into skiing, then try snowshoeing on over 25 kilometers of groomed trails that are also dog friendly.

In fact, the Lodge has two “loaner” dogs who just love to go with new friends on snowshoe adventures. A guided snowshoe tour is available for $35, with a minimum of three people, that includes rental equipment, trail pass, and guide.

Galena Lodge also has a number of special dinners during December, all four-course meals and reasonably priced, but be sure to reserve in advance for these popular communal eats. To top off your winter escape, consider renting one of the four yurts the Lodge operates, to really get into the holiday mood.

While it is lovely to stay at the recently renovated Sun Valley Resort, most of their holiday happenings are open to guests and non-guests alike, so be sure to check out their ever-changing list of daily activities.

A showing of the classic film, Sun Valley Serenade, is a must for visitors.

This 1941 movie starring skater Sonja Henie and actors John Payne and Milton Berle is a mad-cap holiday musical showing at 2:30 at the Sun Valley Opera House, located on the Sun Valley Mall, on December 27th. Another film not to be missed at the Opera House is Warren Miller’s extreme ski film “Line of Descent.” 

At $5.50 a ticket, this movie with its phenomenal cinematography, is sure to entertain skiers and non-skiers in your party. Show time is 2:30 p.m.

Films aren’t the only attraction in the Wood River Valley. On December 27th and 30th, you can enjoy a “Clicqout in the Snow” party, complete with wine tasting, live music, and photo booth at River Run Lodge on the Sun Valley resort property from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

If you haven’t bowled in a while, put on those slippery shoes, and give it a shot. The resort bowling alley is open New Year’s Eve from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

The 31st is also Family Night Skiing on Dollar Mountain from 5:00-9:00 p.m. It’s a real bargain at $35 for adults and $25 for kids 12 and under.

That gets you a ski and ride pass for Quarter Dollar, plus access to face painting, hat decorating, and photo booth activities. Fireworks on the mountain begin precisely at 9:00 p.m.

Sleigh rides are another popular activity in the Wood River Valley. During peak season, hour-long rides are offered frequently and can be reserved by calling 208-622-2135.  Adult fares are $30 and kids twelve and under are $15 during peak season. In regular season, tickets cost $25 for adults and $10 for kids. Dates for these seasons can be found on the Sun Valley Resort website.

Dinner sleigh rides out to the Trail Creek Cabin are much sought after, so be sure to reserve as early as possible.  Adults tickets are $129, and kids 12 and under are $79.

Christmas Eve is magical in the Wood River Valley, and nothing says Christmas better than the free performance of the Nutcracker on Ice at the Sun Valley Resort ice rink. The show is free, and right after is the annual Torch Light Parade down Dollar Mountain. Don’t miss the chance to see skiers lighting the slopes as they wind their way done the mountain.

Finally, the 7th annual Bubbly Bash happens again on New Year’s at River Run Lodge, beginning at 9:00 p.m. This event benefits the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and is co-hosted by Sun Valley Resort and the Center for the Arts.

Ste. Michelle Winery is the sponsor for the event and will offer complimentary wine at midnight. This Rock and Roll Party gets sold out early, so call the SV Center for the Arts as soon as you can. If you miss this year, then put it on your calendar to call in next November. MSN

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