The following is a list of 10 of the best adventures one can embark upon in and around the Stanley, Idaho area. No matter what your skillset or desired activity level may be, there is some form of adventure available for you in Stanley. Follow along as we highlight some of the area’s best, and follow the links for more detailed information.
There are over 30 established campgrounds in the Stanley, Idaho area, offering services to everyone from tent campers to mobile home residents. If you’re a fan of fishing, you’ll find spots at many great holes along the Salmon River, while lake-lovers can enjoy spots at Redfish, Alturas, Petit, Stanley Lake, and more. There are even a few spots only accessible by boat (or foot) in these areas. Many campgrounds in the area take reservations in advance, and the early bird gets the worm, so be sure to snag your favorite spot ahead of time. Visit the online reservation website here: www.recreation.gov/unifSearchResults.do
The Sawtooth Wilderness has been protected for 50 years now! What does that actually cover? Hikers and backpackers (& pack animals) have exclusive access to over 350 miles of trails to over 200 high mountain lakes. It’s an incredible expanse of untouched wilderness, in which no wheeled or mechanized vehicle can ride, right in our backyard. Vistas are lined with iconic rock features, such as the Finger of Fate, The Arrowhead, The Temple, and The Elephant’s Perch, as distant expanses are filled with lakes named from a different era – Imogene, Edna, Edith, Vernon, & all their countless companions. The mountains are beautiful from afar, but those who wander will be highly rewarded here.
While the hikers and backpackers have the Sawtooth Wilderness all to themselves, mountain bikers will find plenty of great options elsewhere. The area has some of Idaho’s most classic rides and inspiring scenery. There’s nothing better than a sweet view as your chugging up a hill (or flying down) and we’ve got plenty of that here. The White Cloud Mountain Range, situated across highway 75 – directly east of the Sawtooth Wilderness, is a haven of fun rides for individuals of all skill levels. Be sure to stop by Riverwear for some great advice on local hot spots. The Fisher-Williams Loop is regularly quoted as one of the best in Idaho, while Elk Mountain and Potato Mountain are a few other local favorites, offering awesome scenery and excellent experiences.
Horses have been moving along trails in the Sawtooths for nearly as long as humans, so it’s only fitting that they still have a special place in Stanley culture. There is trailer access to most of the trailheads in the Wilderness Area and backcountry users can find stock ties at many frequently accessed lakes and campgrounds. This makes for a much more user-friendly experience and less impact on the natural environment over time. For individuals just looking for the day ride experience, the Redfish Corral has you covered, with fun rides lasting from 1 hour to full days (& beyond). Don’t miss your chance to feel like Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider as you saddle up and ride through the Sawtooths. Find more information by visiting the Redfish Corrals at www.redfishcorrals.com.
ROCK & MOUNTAIN CLIMBING
The Sawtooth Mountains offer some of the greatest rock and mountain climbing opportunities in the state of Idaho. The area’s hard granite and glacial history have mixed to create immense and fantastic rock formations. A perfect example of this is the “Redfish Boulder,” perched high above Point Campground. This giant rock hosts climbers and boulder worshippers from all around, and offer a wide variety of routes to the creative and skillful. Further into the wilderness, features like Baron Spire, Mount Heyburn, The Coffin, and The Black Aguille, among countless others, call to the mountain elite. And of course, the area is home to The Elephant’s Perch, which hosts 30 different routes up its 1200+ foot expanse and has become famous as Idaho’s very own “Big Wall.” For those simply looking for a taste of the adventure, hook up with the Sawtooth Mountain Guides at www.sawtoothguides.com.
RIVER RAFTING & KAYAKING
The Sawtooth Valley is home to the Salmon River as it grows from its headwaters near Smiley Creek and begins its long 425 mile journey to connect with the Snake River and, eventually, the Pacific Ocean. As it picks up speed and volume, flowing down to the Stanley Basin and right on through to begin carving its way through the canyons to Challis, the river takes on an adventurous and wild tone that begs to be ridden. This excitement encourages rafters and kayakers from across the world to paddle and roll through every wicked turn. In addition to the Main Fork, which is right outside of Stanley, adventurers can also tackled Idaho’s most famous whitewater body, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, also known as The River of No Return. This intense stretch begins outside of Stanley and runs for over 100 miles before its confluence with the Main Fork. Individuals interested in one of these adventures are encouraged to contact one of the many area river guide companies, which can be found vie the Stanley Chamber of Commerce at www.stanleycc.org/do/river-trips/.
Flyfishing – Stanley’s rivers and streams form perfect habitat for many different species of fish, making them a wonderful destination for fly-fishermen looking to score a prized catch. Thousands of people flock to these legendary fishing grounds every year to engage in a peaceful pastime surrounded by amazing scenery. Individuals looking for local tips and pointers should stop by McCoy’s Tackle & Gifts. For those not looking to test it on their own, guided trips can be arranged through several local outfitters. Find a listing at www.stanleycc.org/do/fishing/.
Spinners & Bait – Sawtooth Mountain lakes are also a great place to flyfish, but many individuals in these settings prefer simple rod & reel fishing with worms and a bobber. What better way is there to teach a young, impatient child to fish? Area destinations, such as Redfish, Alturas, Petit, and Stanley Lake are great for recreational fishing – either from the bank or from a boat out on the water. Redfish Lake, however, is the only spot with rental boats available on location. In addition to fishing in the areas lakes, the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery has a small pond where kids and families can enjoy fishing together. This is a great spot with a high likelihood of a catch, which makes the experience extra fun for kids. Poles and worms are available through the Hatchery. Don’t miss the fun opportunity to catch a Rainbow Trout and learn more about our natural environment.
Stand-Up Paddleboards are all the rage right now, and it’s easy to understand why when you try them out for yourself. These fun water vehicles can be used in a variety of different ways and provide a fantastic form of exercise for a great full-body workout. Enjoy the freedom of standing or sitting, and even walking about the board, without much fear of tipping or falling in. Once you get the hang of it, these stable platforms are an excellent way to freely explore the lake and enjoy some time in the sun. Larger models can even hold multiple (small) riders at once. The Redfish Lake Lodge Marina is well-equipped with lots of these awesome toys, but they go fast, so hurry out for your chance to cruise around the lake with fun and style. Life jackets are provided by us. Check out more of the Redfish Marina’s offering by visiting us at redfishlake.com/marina/.
DANCING & SINGING
Redfish Lake Lodge offers three (3) concerts every single week. That means you can exercise your groove muscles on the front lawn, with talented musicians and all your Redfish Family & Friends, every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday night. This is one of the most beautiful concert venues on the planet and our shows are FREE OF CHARGE! Simply bring the whole family and pack your dancing shoes, we’ll do the rest. Delicious food and soft-serve ice cream at the Gazebo, great drinks in the Lounge, and great green space on the lawn make for a welcome and entertaining experience. Check out our full music schedule at redfishlake.com/activities/music-at-redfish/. And check our blog weekly for detailed information on bands and upcoming events. Additional concert options can be found in the town of Stanley throughout the week, hosting a wide array of acts from across the country and covering a large variety of musical styles. A full schedule of Stanley events can be found at www.stanleycc.org/events/local/.
Stanley, Idaho is full of history and natural wonder, not to mention some wonderful and intelligent people, so there’s always something more to learn here. Local organizations, like the Mountain Mama’s and Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association (SIHA), help to inform the public of the past and improve the area for future generations. SIHA is responsible for the Stanley Museum, which is an excellent collection of information and artifacts that provides amazing insight to the area’s past, as well as the Redfish Visitor Center, which promotes positive natural interaction and detailed area information at the region’s major tourist destination. The organization’s Forum & Lecture Series hosts exceptional educational guests throughout the summer, so be sure to check the schedule at new.discoversawtooth.org/calendar. Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch is also playing host to several educational events throughout the summer, from weekly Fishing Chats on their porch to monthly Fireside Chats, check out their schedule at www.idahorocky.com.