8 Reasons to Visit Stanley, Idaho

Friday, April 28th, 2017

1.  Hiking

The raw beauty of the mountains interlaced with wildlife, wildflowers and scenic views will have you returning to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area every year. There are 700 miles of trails that range from beginner to advanced levels, 40 peaks over 10,000 feet (perfect for peak baggers!) and 300+ alpine lakes where nature puts on an incredible show that will blow your mind. Don’t know where to start?  Sawtooth Mountain Guides can lead you on a guided hike or a rock climbing adventure.

Saddleback Lake and Elephants Perch in the Sawtooth Mountains

2.  Wildflowers

The already stunning landscapes will be bursting with colors. The above normal snow pack this winter has already begun to melt creating the environment that wildflowers thrive in. Every meadow will be covered in an array of wildflowers. Don’t miss this extraordinary sight!

Wildflowers in the Sawtooth Valley

3.  Whitewater Rafting

It’s your chance to reconnect with nature! This family-friendly adventure takes you through scenic canyons as the power of water and your oars propel you down the Upper Main Salmon River. Paddle your way through Class II – IV rapids with experienced outfitters in a raft boat or an inflatable kayak or take a leisurely scenic float with a fly rod in your hand. Are you ready to experience what fun feels like?

Upper Main Salmon – photo courtesy of White Otter Outdoor Adventures (www.whiteotter.com)

4.  Fly Fishing

Solitude with a mountain backdrop and crystal clear waters has brought angling fame to the Sawtooth Valley. Practice your cast for hours on the banks of the Salmon River or at a high alpine lake. Mountain whitefish, rainbow trout, brook trout and Westslope cutthroat are waiting to take your fly for a ride. Visit Jane at McCoy’s Tackle & Gift Shop for all your fishing needs and advice.

Fly fishing at a high alpine lake – photo courtesy of Jeff Ballas

5.  Redfish, Stanley, Alturas and Petit Lakes

Glacial moraines formed these stunning lakes, accessible by car, within the Sawtooth Valley. Each lake is impressive in its own right with the skyline of the Sawtooth Mountains standing guard over it. Camping, hiking, picnicking, lounging on the beach and those amazing vistas are the magnets that pull people back year after year after year.

Stanley Lake

6.  Mountain Biking

Explore the Sawtooth Valley from the seat of a mountain bike. Pedal your way through meadows, natural obstacles, creek crossings, grueling climbs and white-knuckle downhills. From single-track technical trails to dirt roads, there is a ride for everyone. No bike, no problem…..rent one at Riverwear. For a guided mountain biking ride, check out Sawtooth Adventure Company.

Elk Mountain Loop – photo courtesy of Sawtooth Adventure Company

7.  Horseback Riding

When was the last time you went horseback riding in the wilderness? Maybe it’s time to get back in the saddle again and enjoy one of the few remaining activities of the Old West. Local outfitters offer rides that range from one hour to all day or go on a multi-day pack trip to dramatic landscapes in the backcountry. They can take you to those places you only ever dreamed of going to!

Photo courtesy of Mystic Saddle Ranch – photo taken by Kat Cannell Photography

8.  Dark Sky

You don’t have to be an astronomer with fancy equipment to appreciate the dark sky in Stanley. Your naked eye and darkness is all you’ll need to see billions of stars and the Milky Way.

The application process has begun for the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. The goal is to “preserve and enhance our superior nighttime ambience and its benefits on health, tourism and the environment.” It will consist of 140,000 acres in the Sawtooth Valley and will be the first of its kind in the United States.

Stars at Night – photo courtesy of Sawtooth Interpretive & Historical Association – photo taken by Patrick Abel

Blog written by Erica Cole