Sunsets are the spectacular finale to a day of triumphs or hardships; a universal permit to relax, reflect upon today and willingly, even eagerly, grasp the inevitable coming-of-tomorrow.

Here in the Wood River Valley, we’re always hungry for tomorrow, and today’s reflections usually include reliving a tight turn conquered on a mountain bike, a golf swing improved, or a wily trout being fooled with the right fly.  These types of achievements deserve a proper evening canvas upon which to be remembered, and the sunset viewing opportunities in the Ketchum area provide just that.

Now, regulars to most mountain town communities understand that their local landscapes typically prohibit an ultimate, genuine farewell to the sun on the horizon, as the peaks often block our views.  Sunsets are often synonymous with a flatter topography, like an ocean, lake, or plains, but we like to think our evening atmospheres are vastly underrated.

To justify that point,  here’s a short list of the Wood River Valley’s best spots to view sundown and calm your mind—or totally blow it apart.

BigWood Grill:  Dinnertime Deck Observatory

Bigwood Grill Sunset

Image courtesy of BigWood Grill

If you’re good and exhausted by the day’s activities, this is your spot.  Located on the very North end of Ketchum, the Bigwood Grill offers outstanding casual dinner time dining on an elevated deck facing to the West.  Watch the fading sun weave between the ridge lines of Warm Springs Canyon as you sip beer or wine.  Once that burning ball of glory has said farewell to the rigid horizon, a sparse trace of clouds will often leave the spectator bedazzled with a prolonged showing of purples and oranges and reds in the clean mountain air.  Don’t spill your beer whilst in awe.

Knob Hill:  Sunset Picnic

For the casually adventurous, Knob Hill (map) is a great platform from which to watch the day turn to night.  Located two blocks North of Ketchum Town Square, viewers can scamper up a quick trail with a bottle of wine and a blanket or two and find surprising comfort on the rocky peak of this miniature mountain and bask in the fading glow of today.  Romance abounds atop this seductive summit.

Silver Creek Preserve:  Fiery Float on “The Creek”

Silver creek preserve

Image courtesy of Nature.org

The world-renown Silver Creek Preserve lies about thirty-five miles South of Ketchum, and the vibrant colors of it’s abundant trout aren’t the only spectacle available to it’s visitors.

The Creek is found out of the mouth of the Wood River Valley and just into the Camas Prairie, which offers a flatter, East-West orientation.  Consequently, this is where you can find the most consistent sunset views in the area, which are nothing short of extraordinary.  Hop in a float tube or a canoe and lazily float the meandering river under the fiery evening sky.  Songbirds will sing amidst the native grasses and wildflowers, and the moose, elk and mule deer begin to make their nightly appearances.

Do your best not to fall asleep and drift past the takeout.

Galena Summit:  The Grandest Finale

For the more ambitious folks with plenty of juice left in their legs, Galena Summit offers a stunning backdrop for the sun’s final descent. (Map here.) Drive about thirty miles North of town on Highway 75, park on the top of the pass, and enjoy a quick hike to the top of “The Cross”.  From this ridge, you can see it all, but you’ll want to turn your attention to the Salmon River Valley on the other side of the pass to watch our favorite star smash into the serrated summits of the Sawtooth Mountains.  

As the crisp breeze dries the sweat from your brow, listen for the bugle of bull elk in late summer and revel in the vibrantly dramatic turning of day into night.  

Afterall, you’ve earned it.