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Sun Valley, ID or Bend, OR?

Sun Valley, ID or Bend, OR?

Old Mar 18, 2023, 1:57 pm
  #1  
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Sun Valley, ID or Bend, OR?

I'm not certain whether to post this in West or Pacific Northwest since OR belongs to one forum and ID the other.

We're seeking input and insight regarding an upcoming August trip. We are trying to decide between Sun Valley, ID and Bend, OR. We have been to neither but have heard they are both lovely, and I'd love to hear any thoughts from those who have been to one or both.

About us: we want to stay in the west/pacific northwest. We visit mountainous or beautiful outdoorsy locations each year, and looking for something similar. Past trips have been to Deer Valley, UT, Jackson Hole, WY (with Yellowstone), Aspen, CO, Zion, UT, etc. We love national parks but find beauty in other nature-lands as well. especially with greenery and pleasant vistas. We also don't mind (read: would like) a little bit of luxury. :-) We're not experienced hikers and or avid recreational-types, but we do enjoy going on easy to moderate hikes every other day, nice drives, walking through/dining in the local town, visiting spots outside or near the town, enjoying the peace and tranquility the nature offers, learning local history, and maybe a massage. We enjoy water/rivers/lakes or even hot springs when available but it is not necessary. We also enjoy seeing wildlife!

I've read Bend is high-desert which sounds less-green to me, but have seen gorgeous photos that it is quite green, so not really clear what it is like. Is one place or another more green and lush?

Any suggestions or guidance would be great. We have top elite status with both Marriott and Hilton so would likely end up staying at one of them, although neither brands have resorts (we'd prefer resorts) at these locations, like they do in Deer Valley, Aspen, etc. There are more lodging options between these brands in Bend but we don't want to make a decision only on that as we are open to staying outside these brands if worthwhile.

Thank you!
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Old Mar 18, 2023, 9:00 pm
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I can't offer a ton of insight, but I can share a few thoughts. First, we've stayed on Redfish Lake up near Stanley, ID about an hour north of Sun Valley. That area is mountainous and gorgeous, and we enjoyed renting canoes, SUP's, and just lounging at the lake. It is possible to take a boat ride across the lake (and do a hike from there if desired), and the drives around that area are often stunning (route 21 to Boise in particular was beautiful). For things to see in the other direction from Sun Valley, the one that comes to mind is Craters of the Moon, which is pretty much the polar opposite of lush and green. It's high desert and black lava, incredibly hot and stark, and absolutely stunning in its own right. Well worth seeing, but not the lush landscape you might prefer.

Frankly, eastern Oregon was quite a shock to me the first time we drove across it, as I had only visited the western region prior and pictured the entire state as being lush and green like the coast is. It's not. Just to the east of Bend on the map, you'll see "Oregon Badlands Wilderness" - maybe do an image search and see what you think. Given your stated preference for greenery, I wonder if somewhere further west might suit you better, as it tends to get much greener in that direction. (Please note that I'm no expert on that area, so if others with more knowledge chime in with better info I'd be curious to learn more)

One thing to consider in either location you mentioned (and, really, for much of the west) is the very real possibility (probability?) of smoke from wildfires in August. Sadly, our visits to eastern Idaho that time of year are often impacted by smoke from wildfires in Washington, Oregon and California, as well as in Idaho itself. I mention this because smoke does impact the views, but it can sometimes limit your ability to be outside enjoying the wilderness - it just depends on where the fires are and which way the wind blows. This may not be an issue for your trip at all, there's no way to predict, but it is a possibility you should keep in mind and be aware of as you make your plans. Good luck and happy travels!
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Old Mar 19, 2023, 10:35 pm
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With both cities.they have ski areas. Mt Bachelor is in bend area. Ketchum is thr ski toen in sun valley

both places in august have very real wildfire and smoke/ haze risks.

neither have a national park near it

both have a bunch of trails to high on in the area

Ive been to both areas

The person above Said bend is a high desert not really Bend is sort of like Salt Lake City or denver where the city is on flat ground next to a mountain range. Sun valley is in a valley between mountain ranges,

the area east of cascades and west of the the next set mountains is a temperate desert because it doesnt get much summer rain but has cold and snow winters. In the summer the highs east of the cascades are 10-20 degrees warmer in the summer and 10-20 degrees colder in winter. Thr prevailing win is downsloping which cause chinook winds which can watermark things up. The hottest areas are generally the lowest in elevation near walla walla in Washington.

both places can be nice.

i have stayed at redfish lake the person above mentioned.

im not a foodie I just dont think the food available is like what you might find in jackson or aspen. Bend is a regular town. Its not really an Uber wealthy ski town like aspen and Jackson is.

Originally Posted by sinfonia

Any suggestions or guidance would be great. We have top elite status with both Marriott and Hilton so would likely end up staying at one of them, although neither brands have resorts (we'd prefer resorts) at these locations, like they do in Deer Valley, Aspen, etc. There are more lodging options between these brands in Bend but we don't want to make a decision only on that as we are open to staying outside these brands if worthwhile.

Thank you!
ehst exsctly are you looking for in a place?

besides bend and sun valley there are a few other locations

lake chelan/ Leavenworth/ Wenatchee in Washington
flathead lake area near whitefish/ kalispekk
san Juan islands in washington
southern oregon coast

Last edited by cblaisd; Mar 20, 2023 at 6:53 am Reason: merged poster's two consecutive posts
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Old Mar 20, 2023, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by djp98374
The person above Said bend is a high desert not really Bend is sort of like Salt Lake City or denver where the city is on flat ground next to a mountain range. Sun valley is in a valley between mountain ranges,
I never said anything about Bend being high desert, I said that Craters of the Moon in Idaho is high desert. I was just trying to offer some suggestions for day trips from a base in Sun Valley, but wanted to be sure OP was picturing Craters as it is because it's certainly not lush or green.

Flathead Lake is a lovely area and is a great suggestion for the type of scenery OP mentioned enjoying. If OP considers the suggestion and has thoughts of visiting Glacier NP as part of the trip, you'll want to keep in mind that may be much more challenging this year with the implementation of the ticketed entry system for all park entrances. If you asked my recommendation for a mountainous national park visit in the US, though, Glacier would be way up there on the list - it's my absolutely favorite to date.
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Old Mar 21, 2023, 12:56 am
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I've only been to Bend once. Last July, for a day, after visiting friends who were staying in SunRiver (a planned recreational community south of Bend).

It was over 100 degrees in Bend (pretty hot in Sun River, too).

I will admit I did not see much of Bend, just went from our hotel near downtown to pick up dinner downtown and bring it back to the hotel (we had a kitchen). The traffic was HORRENDOUS, could not find a place to park so I kept circling until husband got the food. The heat was horrendous.

Now I also have been to another planned recreational community near Bend (this one to the Northwest) called Black Butte Ranch for a weekend. I thought that was lot prettier than SunRiver, we had a unit with a view of the Sisters Mountains which was just lovely. They had several pool areas, and it really was a nice "resort" feel.

Bend truly just is a working/living city, but people do love it. I admit I was negatively colored by the heat and traffic, but that's the way I perceived it.

There aren't a lot of really high end Hiltons or Marriotts in town, but one trick I've heard is that if you stay at the Hampton Inn you can clearly hear any concerts that are at the outdoor amphitheater next door - so check the schedule. It used to be called the Les Schwab amphitheater but has a different name now.

To me the prettiest part of Oregon is the coast.

But I just want to add: I've been to many of the places on your past list, and agree they are unique and beautiful, but one of the most spectacularly beautiful places I've been might be a bit "north" for you - Banff and its surrounding lakes. I'm sure when you mentioned Jackson Hole and Yellowstone you just left off the Grand Tetons? As beautiful as they were, I still liked Banff better. Not sure if you'd consider a trip to Canada.
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Last edited by Eujeanie; Mar 21, 2023 at 1:38 am
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Old Mar 23, 2023, 9:59 pm
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Wow! These are all such helpful posts that give us a better idea of these locations. Thank you, Chemystery, djp98374, and Eujeanie, for all of your input!

It was helpful to Google Oregon badlands wilderness to get an idea what it looked like there! Also, Craters of the Moon. Thanks for suggesting we look those up. All of the descriptive information about Bend and Sun Valley was illuminating to have a better idea of the destinations. I lean towards Sun Valley or somewhere near after reading them, though Bend still sounds worth a future trip as well.

I have been wanting to see Banff! And Glacier National Park was first on the list as we've also never seen that but very much want to. (We did not consider the ticketed entry system which is definitely something to consider when we finally get there.) Coastal Oregon was also on the list. Unfortunately, logistics are limiting us away from any of those options for this trip, although we absolutely need to get to all of those sometime in the next few years! (I've sailed on the Oregon coast before and agree it is both gorgeous and quaint.) Honestly, all of these suggestions have me hungry with wanderlust - have been aching to see the San Juan islands, just recently captivated by the idea of Kalispell, etc. but did not know about these specific lake areas to visit that you all have listed like Lake Chelan, Flathead Lake. This very much helps to flesh out these ideas for the future, so thank you!

Given our logistical limitations, we will either be flying into Boise or Redmond (though I think Seattle or Spokane is a possibility) so we thought of Sun Valley or Bend. Now we can add Lake Chelan and Redfish Lake as considerations! The locations themselves - scenery, local town - is more important to us than where we stay, so long as we can find somewhere comfortable. We may just consider even something like an Airbnb or one of the homes you can rent through Marriott Bonvoy - it definitely looks like this sort of option would be best for Sun Valley as we don't see many hotels there.

Thanks for the heads up about the smoke and wildfires. We didn't realize it extended that far. We'll have to just buckle up and hope for the best, but it's good for us to be prepared for that possibility.

Oh, and yes, we also saw the Tetons which were breathtaking. Honestly, Yellowstone/Tetons/Jackson was one of my favorite US trips ever. Because of this, I'm certain Glacier NP and Banff are must-visits for us in the near future!

Thank you again! We now have new considerations for destinations for this trip from your suggestions, are probably leaning against Bend for this trip (though I like the tip for the concerts whenever we go there), and I am adding the other locations mentioned to our future trips list!

Really appreciate your input!
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Old Mar 24, 2023, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by sinfonia
I have been wanting to see Banff! And Glacier National Park was first on the list as we've also never seen that but very much want to. (We did not consider the ticketed entry system which is definitely something to consider when we finally get there.) Coastal Oregon was also on the list. Unfortunately, logistics are limiting us away from any of those options for this trip, although we absolutely need to get to all of those sometime in the next few years!
<snip>
Given our logistical limitations, we will either be flying into Boise or Redmond (though I think Seattle or Spokane is a possibility) so we thought of Sun Valley or Bend.
Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise will be my next big road trip, I cannot wait to visit the Canadian Rockies. You'll love Glacier when you get there, it's gorgeous. Just be sure to keep opening dates for Going to the Sun Road in mind when planning, as well as historical trail opening dates if you are planning to do hiking, especially things like Grinnell Glacier (highly recommend). August is probably good, but early July can be dicey depending on the year.

If you're planning to do Sun Valley, you could check Pocatello and Idaho Falls in addition to Boise, just in case there are any good airfare deals (unusual, but it happens). Also, it would be a much shorter drive to fly into Salt Lake than Redmond, Spokane or Seattle, if that's something you would consider. Happy planning, and hope you have a great trip.
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Old Mar 24, 2023, 10:49 am
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Originally Posted by Chemystery
Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise will be my next big road trip, I cannot wait to visit the Canadian Rockies. You'll love Glacier when you get there, it's gorgeous. Just be sure to keep opening dates for Going to the Sun Road in mind when planning, as well as historical trail opening dates if you are planning to do hiking, especially things like Grinnell Glacier (highly recommend). August is probably good, but early July can be dicey depending on the year.

If you're planning to do Sun Valley, you could check Pocatello and Idaho Falls in addition to Boise, just in case there are any good airfare deals (unusual, but it happens). Also, it would be a much shorter drive to fly into Salt Lake than Redmond, Spokane or Seattle, if that's something you would consider. Happy planning, and hope you have a great trip.
When you're at Lake Louise be sure to also visit Moraine Lake - it's just down the road apiece and much less touristy and just as beautiful. We took a small-van tour out of Banff which was wonderful because all of the places we stopped had very busy often full parking areas, but the buses were given priority and dedicated spaces. I'll stress it was a small van tour - there were only 6 of us plus the driver, very comfortable.
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Old Mar 24, 2023, 2:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Eujeanie
When you're at Lake Louise be sure to also visit Moraine Lake - it's just down the road apiece and much less touristy and just as beautiful. We took a small-van tour out of Banff which was wonderful because all of the places we stopped had very busy often full parking areas, but the buses were given priority and dedicated spaces. I'll stress it was a small van tour - there were only 6 of us plus the driver, very comfortable.
Yup, on the list. I had a trip all planned out a number of years ago, but we had to cancel and just haven't managed to get there yet. I'll definitely keep the small-van tour in mind, thank you. We did a private snow coach tour in Yellowstone that was wonderful, so after that experience I'm always up for similar opportunities.
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Old Mar 24, 2023, 3:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Chemystery
Yup, on the list. I had a trip all planned out a number of years ago, but we had to cancel and just haven't managed to get there yet. I'll definitely keep the small-van tour in mind, thank you. We did a private snow coach tour in Yellowstone that was wonderful, so after that experience I'm always up for similar opportunities.
Well poo I looked up the company we used...our van had 3 bench seats, so could fit 9-10 I guess, but now they seem to be using larger 24 psgr vans (like airport shuttles) - still better than a huge coach, and we saw plenty of those. Discover Banff Tours.
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Old Mar 26, 2023, 5:09 pm
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Originally Posted by sinfonia
Wow! These are all such helpful posts that give us a better idea of these locations. Thank you, Chemystery, djp98374, and Eujeanie, for all of your input!

It was helpful to Google Oregon badlands wilderness to get an idea what it looked like there! Also, Craters of the Moon. Thanks for suggesting we look those up. All of the descriptive information about Bend and Sun Valley was illuminating to have a better idea of the destinations. I lean towards Sun Valley or somewhere near after reading them, though Bend still sounds worth a future trip as well.

I have been wanting to see Banff! And Glacier National Park was first on the list as we've also never seen that but very much want to. (We did not consider the ticketed entry system which is definitely something to consider when we finally get there.) Coastal Oregon was also on the list. Unfortunately, logistics are limiting us away from any of those options for this trip, although we absolutely need to get to all of those sometime in the next few years! (I've sailed on the Oregon coast before and agree it is both gorgeous and quaint.) Honestly, all of these suggestions have me hungry with wanderlust - have been aching to see the San Juan islands, just recently captivated by the idea of Kalispell, etc. but did not know about these specific lake areas to visit that you all have listed like Lake Chelan, Flathead Lake. This very much helps to flesh out these ideas for the future, so thank you!

Given our logistical limitations, we will either be flying into Boise or Redmond (though I think Seattle or Spokane is a possibility) so we thought of Sun Valley or Bend. Now we can add Lake Chelan and Redfish Lake as considerations! The locations themselves - scenery, local town - is more important to us than where we stay, so long as we can find somewhere comfortable. We may just consider even something like an Airbnb or one of the homes you can rent through Marriott Bonvoy - it definitely looks like this sort of option would be best for Sun Valley as we don't see many hotels there.

Thanks for the heads up about the smoke and wildfires. We didn't realize it extended that far. We'll have to just buckle up and hope for the best, but it's good for us to be prepared for that possibility.

Oh, and yes, we also saw the Tetons which were breathtaking. Honestly, Yellowstone/Tetons/Jackson was one of my favorite US trips ever. Because of this, I'm certain Glacier NP and Banff are must-visits for us in the near future!

Thank you again! We now have new considerations for destinations for this trip from your suggestions, are probably leaning against Bend for this trip (though I like the tip for the concerts whenever we go there), and I am adding the other locations mentioned to our future trips list!

Really appreciate your input!
on glacier snd ticketed entry system..

you dont need a ticket if you are staying inside the restricted area camping or hotels.

restricted sre

1 NW corner to polebridge. No lodges here. There is camping
2. two medicine no lodging. There is a camp site. The lake has a boat you buy a timed ticket for. Thst timed ticket gets you entry.
3. many glacier area has many gkacier and swiftcurrent lodging and a campground. The lakes have a boat ticket fir timed use.
4. going to the sun there are a bunch of lodging snd campgrounds. There are two hiker chalets you need to reserve and thst also gets you access. Lake Macdonald snd st Mary lake have boats you can buy tix for .

whrn buying boat tickets you will get access inside the park before your timed tick. You can stay inside that restricted area the rest of the day. You cant enter after time of boat.

park lodging is mainly done by xanterra. Pursuit ( bought many glacier inc) has a couple properties inside going to the sun restricted area and it dies dt Mary lodge, east glacier lidge. St Mary lodge is connected to the summer bus system to Logan pass.

Pursuit also has. Property inside Waterton lakes no in Canada. From there you have another boat ride thst takes you south to goat haunt inside glacier.

for banff/ Jasper you need to plan well in advance and book
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Old Jul 1, 2023, 9:11 pm
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If, I may be so bold to correct some of the above posts from someone who actually lives in Bend, Oregon, I will shed some facts details on my lovely little town and why so many people want to live here and visit here.

Remote workers who flocked to Zoom towns are fighting to stay WFH (cnbc.com)

Bend is referred to as a high desert. It's at 3,500 feet. Temperatures in the summer during the day can get into the upper 80's and low 90's. Being a high desert, there's not a lot of humidity here. In the evenings the temps will drop to very comfortable 60's. And as has been mentioned, yes, fire season in August usually means smoke. The past few years have been fairly smokey. Unfortunately, it is part of living in an area that is surrounded by forests.

The downtown area of Bend has lots of nice brew pubs and some nicer restaurants. If you are into beer, then Bend is a great place to do pub crawls. Some of our favorite breweries;

Crux, Boneyard, 10 Barrel (on Galveston) and Monkless Brewing has great Belgian ales and views overlooking the Deschutes river.

Restaurants: Zydeco (Western/Creole Fusion), Jackalope (Euro/Western Fusion), Five Fusion(Asian/Sushi), Spork (Asian/South American vibe)
Breakfast: McKay's Cottage (super busy on weekends), Victoria Cafe, Chow (also very busy on weekends)

There are concerts held at Hayden Ampitheater and you can check if there's anyone interesting playing for the dates you might be around.

Just a short 90 minute drive South of Bend is Crater Lake NP, there's a beautiful road that circumnavigates the lake. One of my favorite places to bike ride in the summer.

If you are into mountain biking, there are wonderful mountain biking trails just on the city limits. One of the more popular trail systems is Phil's Trail. A series of different mountain bike trails. To quench your thirst after a dusty trail ride, you can grab a margarita or beer at La Rosa one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in Bend.

You can also hike to Tumalo Falls which is an easy 2.6 mile hike in on a nice fairly easy trail. It's very popular with locals and mtn bikers as it is just a quick 15 miunte drive up Skyliner.

If it is a hot day, one of the most popular activities is to float the Deschutes River. There's a bus service that will pick you up as you float into Drake Park and take you back to where you started. Float the Deschutes

Sisters is also a short 20 minute drive North of Bend and has some very nice art galleries and shops.

Mount Bachelor is open for Mountain biking, zip lining and hiking. Century Drive and the Cascade Lakes highway will take you to beautiful lakes, such as Elk Lake and Elk Lake Lodge where you can grab a bite to eat and paddle on the lake.

Lodging: Downtown - Oxford is very nice and central with views of Mt Bachelor and the Sisters in the Cascades. Double Tree is also across the street.

Good coffee can be had at Stumptown, Black Porch and Kevista.

Unfortunately, word is out about Bend, and people want to love it to death. It's not the sleepy little town it once was when I first discovered it some 30+ years ago.

Last year skiing Mount Bachelor on Memorial Day.

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