The Wood River Valley is a veritable mecca for kids’ activities with lots of fun to be had on a bike, skateboard, or on your own two feet. With so many choices, picking favorites is a challenge—here are some that younger children and teens will enjoy.
Illustrated by Cara Shumate
It’s tough to beat this 17-acre park for its size and offerings. In addition to a playground with swings, see saws and jungle gyms, there are soccer fields, tennis courts, a basketball court and sports backboard. It’s ideal for toddlers, as well as for older kids longing to spread their wings. And the Christina Potters Outdoor Ice Rink (mid-December through mid-February) is the largest outdoor ice rink in the Pacific Northwest. Shady picnic areas and a family BBQ pit offer respite from the summer sun. 900 Third Avenue North, Ketchum.
KETCHUM TOWN SQUARE
A festival area, public restroom and open space with picnic tables and benches make this an ideal spot to gather and meet. A seasonal ice cream stand and the weekly Farmer’s Market (up the street) make it a busy spot during the summer months. 480 East Fourth Street, Ketchum.
FOREST SERVICE PARK /
SKI & HERITAGE MUSEUM
Directly in the heart of old Ketchum, this park features massive Engelmann spruce trees (great for shade during the summer) towering above central courtyards. Recognizable by the classic green and white historic Forest Service buildings from the Civilian Conservation Corps era 1930’s, this 2-acre park with museums is not to be missed and also plays host to the popular Ketch’em Alive! summer concert series and other festival events. 131 East River Street (between Washington and First Avenue), Ketchum.
Situated right on Main Street in Ketchum, this charming European-inspired oasis is centered around a large water fountain that beckons wee ones to abandon their shoes and run squealing through the spray. Parents or grandparents will love watching them from a bench or picnic table surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. Main Street (next to Silver Creek Outfitters), Ketchum.
Directly across the street from the Guy Coles Skate Park, Rotary Park is one of the most popular reservation parks. With a covered picnic area, tables, BBQ stands, public restrooms, drinking fountains, grassy shaded areas and access to world-class fishing right on the Big Wood River, this park is great for family gatherings and reunions. Part of Ketchum’s Youth Activity Zone (from Atkinson Park along the multi-modal path to the Northwood Natural Area), it hosts the Wagon Days Rotary Club Duck Race on Labor Day weekend. 1177 Warm Springs Road, Ketchum.
KETCHUM PUMP PARK
Little kids and big kids alike (think 3 year olds to 64 year olds) enjoy this dirt course between First and Second avenues. All that’s needed is a bike, a helmet and a sense of fun (and possibly elbow and knee pads!). Parents can take a load off and relax on the grass while watching little ones cruise around the rolling course. 8th Street (across from Hemingway Elementary School), Ketchum.
GUY COLES SKATE PARK
Conveniently situated across from the Wood River YMCA en route to Warm Springs. While this concrete skateground is a bit smaller than its Hailey counterpart, it’s no less fun, and skateboarders of all ages and abilities rock this park, which includes two large bowls, a vertical wall and rails. Older kids cool off afterward with a dip in the Big Wood River, accessible by a side trail. Saddle Road at Warm Springs Road, Ketchum.
BELLEVUE MEMORIAL PARK
This park offers natural beauty galore and plenty of shade for picnicking. It’s also the site of a range of summer events, including free Friday Night Movies throughout July and August. Third Street, between Cedar and Elm Streets, Bellevue.
A 13-acre preserve along the Big Wood River in Bellevue. Well shaded with mature cottonwood trees, it features a walking path along the river, fishing access, benches and picnic areas. It is also the site of the Haunted Forest at Halloween—a popular annual event. Along Martin Lane (from Broadford Road), Bellevue.
A large open park focused on athletic fields—soccer, rugby and a baseball field. Elm Street East and Slaughterhouse Creek Road, Bellevue.
HOP PORTER PARK
This sprawling, 4.3-acre fun zone is great for all ages and offers the largest play structure in town, a multifaceted wooden construction (designed with “wish list” input from local school kids) with a suspension bridge, multiple slides and lots of nooks for a rousing game of hide-and-seek. It is also the site of the annual Northern Rockies Folk Festival and numerous summer concerts. A covered group pavilion, with BBQ and picnic tables, offers shade and is popular for events and birthdays. Bullion Street, west of Main Street, Hailey.
Focused on the athletic fields, this park is always full with organized softball and baseball games at the beautifully-maintained ballfield. Croy Creek Road (across the bridge, just west of Hop Porter park), Hailey.
LAWRENCE HEAGLE PARK
With a large, covered group pavilion, individual picnic areas, playground with slides and swings, public restrooms and plenty of grass, this is Hailey’s most popular park for weddings. Plenty of large trees help create shade and the Big Wood River access, and tennis and basketball courts make this 3.5-acre park popular for all kinds of activities. Della View subdivision, along War Eagle Drive, Hailey.
ROBERTA MCKERCHER PARK
Named after local legend Roberta McKercher (news journalist, volunteer and celebrated home chef), this park is most well known for its special events—the Labor Day antique and crafts fair, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival and many others. In the winter months, the park is converted into an outdoor ice rink for local skaters of all ages and abilities. Main Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenue, Hailey.
DRAPER WOOD RIVER PRESERVE
This 80-acre preserve includes a ½ mile of Big Wood River frontage with trails, interpretive signage, picnic areas and fantastic fishing access. Accessible from either the Cedar Bend entrance along Cedar Street or the China Gardens main entrance along Aspen Drive, Hailey.
Hailey’s newest park, Keefer Park, is also the city’s largest at 8.6 acres and is abuzz with athletic events on most evenings and weekends. Amenities include restroom facilities, soccer/rugby fields, a softball field, basketball courts, a pavilion and playground. Central Woodside subdivision, at the intersection of Laurelwood and Moonlight Drive, Hailey.
A neighborhood park that has a play structure, athletic fields and individual picnic areas. Foxmoor subdivision near Wood River High School, Eastridge Drive, Hailey.
Another neighborhood park, this 3.3-acre park is teeming with activity in the large grassy areas that double as athletic fields for youth soccer games on the weekends. Trees, a playground and individual picnic areas help provide shade and activities for family gatherings and events. Deerfield subdivision, accessible from either Eastridge Drive or Chestnut Street, Hailey.
OLD CUTTERS PARK
A 5.1-acre neighborhood park that includes large fields, a playground with slides and climbing structure, shaded pavilion, picnic tables and bathrooms. Old Cutters subdivision, corner of Cutters Drive and Badger Lane, Hailey.
BLAINE COUNTY PUMP PARK
A sprawling dirt course (designed to use a rider’s momentum rather than pedaling to maneuver through the track) that wraps along the side and behind the Blaine County Aquatic Center—which is part of the BCRD SportScape and offers a regular and kiddie-sized pool, a toddler playground, climbing wall over the big kid pool, snack bar, party rental space, leisure cabanas and palapa umbrellas and two sand volleyball courts next door. It all adds up to great fun for the whole family—especially big kids looking for more adventure! 1050 Fox Acres Road (across from the Community Campus), Hailey.
HAILEY SKATE & RODEO PARK
Located near the airport, this feature-rich skate park (designed and built by Dreamland Skateparks and ridden by the master himself, Tony Hawk, along with Shaun White, in July 2003) was recently expanded and features a full radius concrete pipe, roll-in with handrails and an oh-so-cool vibe. Considered one of the best parks in the region, the Hailey Skate Park is best for kids ages 10 and up. Hailey Skate Park is part of a multi-phase, $6 million master planned park that is proposed to encompass the outdoor arena and rodeo grounds, with future plans for Hailey Ice Rink and a visitor’s center/interpretive center for Hailey. Main Street /Hwy. 75 (next to the rodeo grounds), Hailey.