Welcome to Stanley, Idaho – population 63. One small town nestled in one breathtaking backdrop, the Sawtooth National Forest.
I’ve seen photos of this gem of a national forest online, but never got to set my eyes on the jagged mountain range in person until this past weekend. Only two and half hours from Boise, it wasn’t a terrible drive to arrive to such natural splendor. As you descend upon the valley, the mountain range lines it dramatically. It’s hard not to keep your eyes on it the entire time as you drive through, seeking out the next awkwardly sharp peak.
In the heart of the valley lies Redfish Lake, which this time of year is mostly frozen. It sits in a quiet area that is only accessible by foot or snowmobile during the winter, so when you arrive, it is rare that there will be more then a handful of people who made the trek as well. Looming over the lake, of course is another tall mountain peak, though more normal in shape, but all the same beautiful. The lake is still, quiet, and peaceful – making for the perfect place to sit back and just enjoy the sights. I loved walking on the ice and exploring the lake a different way then usual.
Spending time in Sawtooth National Forest consisted of counting endless trees, standing in awe of stillness in nature, and being amazed by the rugged mountain range.
The Bon Traveler Details
Where to stay:
Options may be slim in Stanley, though there is the motel, Mountain Resort Village or for those feeling adventurous, there are plenty of yurts to choose from. If you are more into a 4-5 star resort, Sun Valley Resort is only an hour away and makes for a great base to explore the Sawtooth National Forest.
How to get there:
Drive – it’s about 2 and half hours from Boise. Plus you’ll need a car.
Where to eat:
After a day of hiking, have lunch or dinner over at the Bridge St Grill. It sits along the Salmon River and has some ridiculous views of the mountains.
What to experience:
Hot springs! Yes, pack a swimsuit even if it’s 30 degrees outside. These natural springs are relaxing and perfect for sore muscles. Find them in nature by looking for steam along the river or go to a public one at the Mountain Village Resort (reservations required). Hike, climb, cross country ski, snowshoe, you name it – do it. Sawtooth Mountain Guides can help with guided tours and hiking through the area.
Travel well, travel often.