As a member of the U.S. National and Olympic cycling teams, and through a stint as a pro mountain bike and road racer, Greg Randolph has seen some pavement and trails under his treads. After a series of calamities in various fields, he now enjoys the self-coined title of director of awesomeness for vacation planning website Visit Sun Valley in Sun Valley, Idaho. He’s a good man for the job. He’s lived in Sun Valley for the past nine years and is the father to two daughters who are now better skiers and faster bikers than he is. He lives to see his girls beat the boys and humiliate adults.
Here are a few of his favorite things about Sun Valley:
Aspect of the region in the off-season: Sun Valley hardly has an off-season, which is what makes it such a killer place to call home. As soon as one sport wraps up the other begins seamlessly, letting you aggregate more unrelated gear than should be legal. The shoulder seasons between summer and winter are awesome with no one on the trails or the mountain, making the “Private Idaho” less cliche than it might seem.
Place to mountain bike: There are too many options with 300 miles of singletrack accessed right from town, but favorites include the Adams Gulch network, Pioneer Cabin, and Greenhorn Gulch.
Place to road ride: Trail Creek pass is a good road/dirt road bike combo and then the Wood River Bike Trail is ideal. It’s a perfect 18 miles of asphalt ribbon.
Place to Ride with the Family: For learning how to ride a mountain bike the Croy Canyon Bike Park four miles east of Hailey and 15 minutes south of Sun Valley is the perfect place to let your kids skin their elbows. The dirt is soft and there aren’t any rocks or other serious consequences. The short loops give a feeling of accomplishment and the jump park has a good mix of well-built, reasonably sized features for the entire family to learn the ropes. The Ketchum Bike Park is another great place to ride. This small pump park is right downtown and close to the river for washing off dirt and skinned knees. The best singletrack family trail is Corral Creek, a few miles east of Sun Valley. A quick out and back with minimal technical features in a shaded forest canopy makes this a place where everyone can have a blast. Sun Valley’s bike path network and the Wood River Trail along the Big Wood River are also great.
Place to paddle (flatwater): The lakes over the Galena pass offer awesome flatwater paddling. Go to Alturas, Petit, Redfish, or Stanley Lake and enjoy the exercise.
Place to paddle (whitewater): For a good time hit the canyon stretch of the South Fork of the Payette. To get your brain turned into mush from adrenaline the North Fork of the Payette is definitely one that will make you pay for not having your “A” game.
Place to paddle with the family: The day stretch of the Salmon River is a perfect place for the entire family to enjoy a scenic, low consequence, and easy paddle with some moderate Class 2-3 whitewater
Place to refuel: Wherever the beer is cold, the meat is prepared properly, and there’s a place to sit outside. Truthfully, there are a lot of great places in town. Hit Wrapcity in Ketchum for breakfast, Johnny G’s Subshack for lunch, and The Sun Valley Brewery and Cafe in Hailey for dinner. Another good spot is Wiseguy Pizza Pie in both Ketchum and Hailey.
Place to grab a beer: Wherever they have Big Buck Hunter, so I can savor some suds while my girls kill virtual big game. Grumpy’s North in Sunbeam and Ketchum is also a good spot.
Photos courtesy Sun Valley, Randolph