For local Ketchum/Sun-Valley roadies and out-of-town visitors alike, a climb of Galena Summit provides cyclists with an unquestionably scenic, leg-burning ascent. Topping one of the highest paved roads in Idaho, cyclists will ascend the all-asphalt Highway 75 from downtown Ketchum and climb well over 3000k vertical feet.
The Galena Summit climb is among the most iconic in Idaho. At one time, this ride was prominently featured as a stage in the Ore-Ida Women’s Challenge bike race. While the Women’s Challenge is no longer active, the ride remains popular. Here is your comprehensive guide to this Sawtooth Range classic:
Galena Summit Facts
Location: Approximately 30 miles northwest of Ketchum. Idaho State Highway 75, within the Sawtooth National Forest
Max Elevation: 8,701 feet
Weather Forecast: Report
Road Conditions: Report
Beginning at the Limelight Hotel – Ketchum, cyclists ride northwest on Main Street toward 1st Avenue. Continuing on Main Street for a leisurely spin through downtown Ketchum, riders will eventually notice the change from Main Street to Idaho State Highway 75. Highway 75 maintains a fairly wide shoulder, so riders will have space between themselves and traffic, but it’s important to note, the Wood River Trails bike path runs parallel to the highway for a few miles outside of town. This will allow cyclists some extra time to avoid traffic, if desired.
Continuing on Highway 75, riders eventually pass through Cathedral Pines. At an elevation of roughly 6500 feet, the lungs will begin their request for more air and the ongoing 1.5% grade will quietly announce itself to one’s legs. Fortunately, riders will not fully enter the pain cave for another 10 miles, so now is as good a time as any to enjoy Sun Valley’s unforgettable scenery.
Near nonstop companions on this ride, riders will be joined by the Big Wood River, in addition to Boulder, Silver and Easley Peaks. Big Wood River contains rainbow, brown and brook trout, in addition to mountain whitefish, so riders will have plenty of miles to view anglers testing their luck. And the prominent peaks of the Sawtooth range test even the most accomplished mountaineers.
As the elevation gain continues to rise and riders approach the summit, the grade of Galena Pass will also increase. Topping out near 6% at over 8500 feet in elevation, the sufferfest will be in full effect! Fortunately, the views from the summit are among the best to be found in Idaho. Not to be forgotten, we encourage riders to visit the Galena Overlook. Located .9 miles past the Galena Summit and providing a brief downhill, this optional lookout is welcome respite and a great location to take lunch or address any mechanicals.
Returning the same route by which riders arrived, the descent is not overly-technical and provider cyclists with an easy return spin to Ketchum.
Cycling Equipment Essentials
To adequately prepare for the Galena Summit ride, cyclists need a strong foundation of base miles and off-bike fitness. Outside of training, riders should also pack the typical bike ride essentials:
- Pump or CO2
- Spare Tube
- Tire Levers
- Multi Tool
- On-bike nutrition
- Credit Card
Before the Grand Départ from Ketchum, avoid bonking by eating a hearty and balanced breakfast.
After nearly any endurance event, an ice cold beer always hits the spot. All jokes aside, post-ride recovery fuel is important and should be handled with care.
Immediately after conquering the Galena Summit, riders should kickstart their repair with hydration, then switch to carbohydrates and protein. Cyclists should replace lost fluids and rebuild glycogen reserves by stopping at a few of Ketchum’s top dining locations.
To learn more about cycling throughout Sun Valley or renting bikes, talk to a Limelight cycling concierge– they can set you up with miles of routes.