Ernest Hemingway led an amazing life. He spent time in Paris and Cuba, and perhaps less known, he also had a home in Sun Valley, Idaho. Hemingway loved to hunt and fish, and spend time in the outdoors. He wrote numerous books in Idaho, died in Idaho, and was buried in Idaho. If you are looking to visit Idaho, here are the places to find Ernest Hemingway in Sun Valley, Idaho.
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Sun Valley, Idaho is a tourist destination that is only three hours from Boise. In the past century, the mountain town (and nearby towns Ketchum and Hailey) has been home to famous people like Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and yes, Ernest Hemingway.
Sun Valley is home to was made famous when Hemingway moved there in the 1930s, and plenty of famous people have visited and skied there since then. The town is home to multiple ski mountains and is a popular destination for international guests year-round.
When Hemingway moved to Sun Valley in the mid-20th century, he first made his home in Room 206 of the Sun Valley Lodge. In 1959, he moved to his own home in Ketchum, Idaho, just a few miles down the road.
Sun Valley is a small town, with most residents living in Ketchum or Hailey. The Sun Valley Lodge is the centerpiece of Sun Valley, with most visitors staying on its grounds. If you want to visit an important Hemingway site in Sun Valley, the Sun Valley Lodge should be first on your list.
When Ernest Hemingway first arrived in Idaho, he made his home in Room 206 of the Sun Valley Resort, at the Lodge. The room was a suite at the end of the hallway with an outdoor terrace. It gave Hemingway a chance to focus on his writing, and he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in that suite.
If you are visiting the Sun Valley Lodge and want to visit Room 206, it’s not that easy to find now because they have changed room numbers since the time he lived there. This is mostly to keep Hemingway fans from bothering their guests. I wandered the hotel to find Room 206 and was surprised it was not at the end of a hallway — so I asked the concierge. After making sure no one was staying in the room at the moment, he told me the room number.
Although it doesn’t seem to be widely known (even for people who live in Idaho), not only did Ernest Hemingway die in Idaho, he was also buried in Idaho. You can find his final resting place in the Ketchum Cemetery, just down the road from the Sun Valley Resort.
Any time of year, you will see his grave covered in different objects like beer bottles and cans and other objects. When we visited, there were also a number of coins covering his grave.
There are a number of other Hemingways also buried near Ernest’s grave, because many of his family members continued to live in Idaho after his death.
Hemingway was known for his love of a good drink, and he was no different in Sun Valley. The Pioneer Saloon and Sawtooth Club were two locations he visited on a regular basis.
The Pioneer Saloon still has one of Ernest Hemingways’ guns, a 21 twelve-gauge shotgun, hanging on their wall.
The Hemingway Memorial is only around 1.5 miles from the Sun Valley Resort, up Trail Creek Road. It was built by his friends after his death, and inscribed with an epitaph Hemingway himself wrote for a friend:
Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever
If you are looking to visit the Hemingway Memorial, summer is the best time. Although the road is always questionable in winter, it is also regularly closed for the season.
The Hemingway House is the home where the Hemingways lived for the two years before Ernest Hemingway’s death. They purchased the home in 1959, and he died there in 1961. The house sits on 14 acres of land.
When Mary Hemingway died in 1986, she donated the home to The Nature Conservancy. It is now managed by the Ketchum Community Library.
Ernest Hemingway’s home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it remains private property and is not open for visitors at this time. The library is currently undergoing renovations on the home, and hopes to open an apartment to run a resident program for writers.
The Silver Creek Preserve is an interesting piece of Sun Valley that gives you insight into a different side of Ernest Hemingway.
Hemingway loved nature and the outdoor, which is one of the reasons he chose Sun Valley as his home. He hunted and fished at Silver Creek on a regular basis, and after his death, his son Jack Hemingway helped lead the preservation of the 3,000 acres of land.
Jack Hemingway was the Fish and Game commissioner for Idaho from 1971 to 1977, and Silver Creek continues to be one of Idaho’s best trout streams.
On the preserve is a quote from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises:
”One generation passes away, and another generation comes, but the earth abides forever. The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to its place where it arose.”
Because the Ketchum Community Library owns the Hemingway home, they are owners of many Hemingway artifacts from his life. Although the home is not currently open, you can see a collection of items related to Hemingway at the Community Library.
You can also fin an exhibit at the Sun Valley History Museum, including photographs, letters, artifacts, and even his typewriter.