Stargaze at Bruneau Dunes State Park on Fridays and Saturdays

See the sky through a solar telescope at Bruneau Dunes State Park.
See the sky through a solar telescope at Bruneau Dunes State Park.

Head to Bruneau Dunes State Park on Friday and Saturday nights to take a gander at constellations and the chance to track a shooting star burning bright as it passes Orion.

The Bruneau Dunes Observatory not only is a good place to spy a nebula or a distant galaxy, but did you know the popular state park also offers solar viewing?

A sun telescope gets set up outside the observatory building at 7:30 p.m. so people can safely take a close look at the burning orb.

“Visitors can clearly see prominences (an arc of gas that erupts from the sun’s surface) and sun spots,” assistant park manager Bryce Bealba explains.

Staff and volunteers are there to help park guests operate the equipment and answer any questions about what they are seeing through the specially adapted solar telescope.

As soon as the solar viewing ends, head into the Steele Reese Auditorium for a hosted program about topics related to space and the night sky, followed by observatory viewing through the park’s 25-inch Newtonian Reflector telescope.

“The entire observatory building rotates so that the telescope can track objects throughout the night sky,” Bealba states.

Observatory presentations are offered Friday and Saturday nights in August (9 to 11:30 p.m.), September (8:30 to 11:30 p.m.) and midway through October (8:30 to 11:30 p.m.).

Admission costs $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students (ages 6 to 18), and is free for kids 5 and younger. There’s a $5 motor vehicle entrance fee to the park, unless you already have a handy $10 Passport sticker on your windshield (purchased at the DMV) that gives you access to all Idaho state parks throughout the year.

Campsites and camper cabins are available if you don’t feel like driving home after the observatory viewing, but make reservations ( soon if you plan on spending the night.

Late summer in Sun Valley

Sun Valley Resort ( has no shortage of fun stuff to do this time of year.

On Sept. 2, check out “A Salute to Broadway Under the Stars” featuring Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara and Grammy Award-winning baritone Nathan Gunn — backed up by Craig Jessop and the American Festival Orchestra. The Sun Valley Opera Company is celebrating its 15th season of outdoor shows at the Sun Valley Pavilion.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($75-$250) can be purchased at or by calling (888) 622-2108.

Fans of layback spins and triple Salchow jumps can catch a Sun Valley on Ice show at the resort’s outdoor rink next to the Lodge Terrace.

On Aug. 13, three-time U.S. National Champion Ashley Wagner takes to the ice.

On Aug. 27, Gracie Gold will hit the ice for a spectacular show. She’s an Olympic bronze medalist and the 2016 U.S. gold medalist.

Tickets range from $25 to $129, the latter of which includes a dinner buffet on the terrace. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; show starts at 8:45 p.m.

On Sept. 3, Olympic gold medalists Charlie White and Meryl Davis, one of the most famous ice dancing couples in the world, will bring their razzle-dazzle to Sun Valley.

Tickets cost $45-$159 (the higher-priced tickets include a dinner buffet). Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; show starts at 8:30 p.m.

McCall-area fun

On Aug. 20, Brundage Mountain Resort ( is hosting its second annual Family Festival and Hot Summer Night Pass Holder Appreciation Party.

Enjoy a barbecue, live music, nature trail hikes, disc golf and even a treasure hunt for the kids. Season-pass holders receive free chairlift rides from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

Make plans to attend the 8th annual MCPAWS Oktoberfest ( in McCall on Oct. 1. The family-friendly event, a fundraiser for the MCPAWS animal shelter, starts at noon at Alpine Village (600 N. 3rd St).

It features lederhosen, live music, dancing, food vendors, craft brews, raffles and even the chance to adopt a pet. Check out the costume contest at 2 p.m. There’s a $10 entry fee, which gets you a souvenir drink koozie and a free beer coupon.

Crossings Winery’s new chef

Crossings Winery ( in Glenns Ferry recently hired a new chef with an impressive resume.

Christian Phernetton started at Tannins restaurant in late June. He’s a Boise native who cut his teeth cooking in high school at Peter Schott’s, then one of Boise’s renowned restaurants. He went on to hold chef positions at top-notch restaurants in Miami, Virginia, Chicago and the Bay Area.

Phernetton is in the process of retooling the lunch and dinner menus, which will receive a modern upgrade in the coming weeks. Make reservations at (208) 366-2313.

James Patrick Kelly, the Idaho Statesman’s restaurant critic, is the author of the travel guidebook “Moon Idaho.” The latest edition hit the shelves earlier this year. Kelly also teaches journalism at Boise State University.