In 1880, the town of Ketchum, named after David Ketchum, a trapper and guide, was one of the richest mining districts in the Northwest. By the early 1890’s, the price of silver declined and the mining boom ended. By 1890, a new industry appeared in Ketchum. Sheepmen from the South drove their herds through Ketchum to summer grazing in the Sawtooth, Boulder and Pioneer Mountains. By 1920, Ketchum was the largest sheep/lamb shipping station in the U.S.
In 1935, the Union Pacific Railroad came to town attracting passengers to a destination ski resort called Sun Valley. Gambling flourished during 1937 to 1947, then in 1954 gambling was totally banned.
In 1973, the Sawtooth Recreation Area opened its doors orth of Ketchum, making Ketchum the gateway to the Sawtooths. Ketchum is now a year-round resort/recreation area. The annual Wagon Days parade held on Labor Day weekend featuring over 100 non-motorized entries, including the original Lewis Ore Wagons, is the town’s annual celebration of its rich pioneer and mining heritage.
In 1958, a group of locals met at the Casino Bar on Main Street Ketchum to discuss how to best fulfill the wish of the Lewis Family that the ore wagons, granted to the City of Ketchum, be publicly displayed once a year. From that fateful night sprung the Wagon Days Parade. The first Wagon Days was held on Kate Lewis’ birthday, the widow of Horace Lewis, owner of the Lewis String Ore Wagons. The history of mining in the Wood River Valley began in the late 1800’s. The Wagon Days Big Hitch Parade, the centerpiece of the holiday weekend, showcases the only link people in Ketchum, Stanley and Challis had with the outside world prior to the arrival of the railroad.
The Big Hitch Parade has grown into the largest non-motorized parade in the West, displaying more than a hundred museum-quality buggies, carriages, tacks, carts, buckboards, and wagons of every variety in existence today. The Wagon Days Big Hitch is powered by an authentic sixteen-draft mule jerkline. Adding spice to the parade is a lively assortment of authentically costumed individuals, numerous breeds of horses, including Arabs, organs, and Pasos, as well as, professional and scholastic marching bands from around the state and the intermountain west.
For more than 70 years, families have been drawn to the magical mix that is Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho. Many of them come for white-carpet grooming and challenging bowls of Bald Mountain. But just as many are entranced by the small-town charm and surprisingly sophisticated vibe of downtown Ketchum. And no one who visits is untouched by the pristine beauty of the Rockies. No matter what brings you, we know one thing is certain – once you get here, you’ll never want to leave.
Getting here is easy. Visitors to Sun Valley, Idaho, have the choice of flying directly into the Sun Valley area on:
SkyWest Airlines (the Delta Connection) daily flights from Salt Lake City, UT
Horizon Air (the Alaska Connection) flights from Seattle, Boise and Los Angeles (seasonal)
Visitors can also take any one of 60 daily flights into Boise, ID, our major airline gateway, 2.5 hours west of Sun Valley. Visitors can catch a ride on a Sun Valley Express or the Sun Valley Stages daily shuttles that will take them directly to Sun Valley. Delta Airlines, Horizon Air, Northwest Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Continental Airlines and United Airlines all service the Boise airport.
Once you are in the Sun Valley/Ketchum area, Mountain Rides offers an Around Town bus service that connects the areas in Ketchum and Sun Valley including Warm Springs and River Run lift access to Bald Mountain. Mountain Rides also provides a Down Valley service making several daily trips from Sun Valley/Ketchum to Hailey and Bellevue.