Swimming Holes & Mountain Lakes
Being Cool in Ketchum – Swimming Holes and Mountain Lakes
It’s summertime! The sun is shining, and the sky is a cloudless blue. You got up early to tackle a morning hike or bike ride. Right now, you’re sipping a cold lemonade from Lee’s at Ketchum Town Square. It’s HOT!
Wait a minute! Stop everything! What you really want to do is cool off! Yup – you want to take a dip in the Big Wood River or one of Idaho’s beautiful lakes. We can help with that – after all, you are in Ketchum. Not only are there plenty of lakes, a river runs through it…. the Big Wood River that is!
First things first. Let’s talk about safety. Be mindful of mother nature’s power. When running fast, the Big Wood River can be dangerous and extremely cold. Swimming in lakes and the river is not for everyone especially toddlers or beginning swimmers. Keep your eyes open. There are no lifeguards. Being extra safe is a good thing and will ensure a fantastic time for all. So, that said…here is the skinny on being cool in Ketchum!
Believe it or not, there are more outdoor enthusiasts visiting Sun Valley in summer than in winter. This fun fact explains why it’s no surprise folks have found access to swimming holes up and down the valley. Before we talk about the magical lakes north of town, let’s start in Ketchum and work our way south.
There is river access all along the Big Wood River. Let’s talk about a few of the most popular. If in the mood for a quick dip in Ketchum, Church Rock is the answer. This hidden gem is just north of where Warm Springs Road crosses the Big Wood River and tucked behind Guy Coles Skate Park and Presbyterian of the Bigwood Church. It’s a local’s favorite to beat the heat. There are rocks to jump off. There are wading pools. Skaters and scooters go back and forth from the river to the skate park all day long. And, it’s not uncommon for the locals to head to Church Rock during their lunch. You never know who you’ll meet. YUP – It’s fantastic for kids of all ages.
Heading south of Ketchum on Highway 75 is Hospital Bridge just north of St. Luke’s and part of the bike path. At this spot, folks can walk down to the river and its bank in a gentler approach or take the plunge by jumping off the bridge. Either way, cooling off in the Big Wood River at Hospital Bridge is a MUST on a hot, sunny day.
In Hailey, Heagle Park is well-known for open space, a picnic area, tennis courts, and a playground. On the west side of the park, a beautiful, sandy bank makes its way into the Big Wood River. There is a swimming hole begging your attention. There are wading areas, logs to jump off and space to spread your towel. Did we mention the foot of Della mountain butts up again the west side of the river? It’s spectacular.
Another popular spot is Colorado Gulch at the northern end of Broadford Road. It offers river access, a bridge for jumping off and hiking trails. Continuing south, folks can enjoy the gentle water below the Broadford Road Bridge. This spot is at the north end of Bellevue’s Howard Preserve which makes walking along the river easy.
If an adventure north of Ketchum is calling, you’ll want to explore the refreshing, mountain waters of Petit and Alturas Lakes, followed by Redfish and Stanley Lakes. These areas are dotted with picnic areas, sandy beaches, boaters, water skiers, fishermen, wildlife, natural hot springs, and families trying to beat the heat.
The best time to dip more than just your toe is late July through August. Yes – giving mother nature a chance to warm up and slow the river down is always a good plan. Remember, be safe and don’t take chances. Simply take your sunscreen. And, take your towel. Your adventure is waiting!