June 2015: Sun Valley is best known for its ski resort, celebrity sightings, and a lifestyle centered on the art of being outside. Residents boast a perennial tan, an effortless sense of eternal youth, and own enough seasonal sports gear to fill a commercial airplane hangar. It makes sense to spend most of your time outdoors in an area nestled between five mountain ranges and home to more than 40 miles of trails.
The town’s quirky, iconic sense of self is evident in the little things: it’s home to the world’s first chairlift, designed by Union Pacific engineer Jim Curran in 1939 to grace the slopes of Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain in order to lure luxury travelers away from the warmth of tropical beaches during the winter months to the cold, snowy mountains of Sun Valley; celebrities made it their “see-and-be-seen” hotspot in the heyday of the early years, hosting the likes of Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few.
But the real stars of Sun Valley are sheep. Yes, sheep. The wooly creatures take center stage each fall at the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, an event celebrating the Valley’s rich history of sheep farming and ranching in a four-day, family-friendly fest that’s made the list of Top 10 Fall Festivals in the World by USA Today and The Huffington Post.