5 Fun Activities To Convince You Stanley, Idaho Should Be Your Next Family Roadtrip


If you’re looking for a fun destination where the whole family can have fun, Stanley, Idaho, offers top-notch entertainment in one of the most beautiful locations in the US. There is undoubtedly an activity for everyone in your family to enjoy despite age or time of year! So if you have yet to make it to Stanley with your family, here are five examples of activities that will help move it to the top of your family road trip to-do-list:

1. Going Camping at Red Fish Lake

Going camping is a great way to get some family bonding in. You can reserve a tent, trailer, or RV parking spot around Redfish Lake by going to the Recreation.gov website. Campsites include Glacier View, Point, Outlet, Sockeye, Mount Heyburn, Mountain View, Chinook, and Sunny Gulch campgrounds. Spend your days going for short hikes, renting a boat on the lake, or renting bikes for the family. Then, spend your nights roasting marshmallows over a campfire, telling stories, and laughing. It’s hard to go wrong with stunning views of the Sawtooths and Redfish Lake. Remember to recreate responsibly!

A family gathered around at a local festival

2. Seeing Thousands of Stars, a Galaxy, and Planets in the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve

If someone in your family enjoys the night sky or is interested in astronomy, we highly recommend spending one of your evenings appreciating the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve (CIDSR). Thanks to cooperative efforts from public land managers, the cities of Stanley, Ketchum, and Sun Valley, along with private landowners, have made a conscious effort to preserve the night sky and view of celestial bodies. They’ve done such a great job that the area holds the honor of being “America’s First Gold-Tiered International Dark Sky Reserve.” The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve offers a humbling view of the Milky Way, planets, and thousands of stars which can be seen with the naked eye. If you pack a telescope to the reserve, your adventure will be even more jaw-dropping! We recommend going when it’s a little cooler outside because the sky is usually the clearest. Be sure to check the weather in advance!

3. Making a Splash Rafting the Salmon River

One of the many natural amenities that set the Stanley, Idaho, area apart from other regions of the world is the quality and quantity of whitewater rapids nearby. It’s an absolute must to hire an outfitter and take your family on the river rafting trip of a lifetime! The impressive Salmon River has headwaters located in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. It divides into three sections: The Lower Salmon River, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and the Main Salmon River. You can test your rafting skills on the Salmon with class II to class IV rapids. Some outfitters even offer a souvenir family photo of you rafting.

4. Experiencing a Local Stanley, Idaho, Event

The town of Stanley, Idaho, knows how to have family-friendly fun! So, consider bringing your family to one of these annual events to check out what all the talk is about:

Stanley Winterfest | President’s Day Weekend (February) | Get weird with Stanley’s twisted take on winter sports like a Fat Bike Fondo, outhouse race, raft rides down snowy hills, street dancing, drag racing (literally in drag costumes), and more!

Redfish Lake Campground 4th of July Parade | 4th of July Holiday | Paddleboat on the lake, play on the beach, watch the parade through downtown, dance in the street, eat ice cream, and end the night celebrating with a firework show produced by the Sawtooth Valley Rural Fire Department.

Eating ice cream on a hot day

Sawtooth Festival | Mid-July | Celebrate the town of Stanley with a beautiful backdrop of the Sawtooth Mountain Range. Your family will enjoy eating great food, listening to live music, and shopping from over 70 arts and crafts vendors.

Sawtooth Salmon Festival | Late August | See family-friendly educational presentations and games to learn about the lifecycle of endangered wild salmon and how to help with conservation efforts. Ride a tour bus to see redds (salmon nests) on the Salmon River banks and enjoy live entertainment from around the region.

5. Soaking in Geothermal Hot Springs

Few things are more relaxing than soaking in a geothermal hot spring under a canopy of trees or beside a river. It should be on your bucket list if it’s not! We recommend taking a dip at Mountain Village Resort Hot Spring (for resort guests only), Boat Box Hot Spring, Gold Bug Hot Spring, Snake Pit, and Kirkham Hot Springs. Beyond being relaxing, hot springs can be great for your skin! Check with your medical provider to ensure you don’t have any concerning health conditions before going.

Plan Your Family Road Trip to Stanley, Idaho Today!

A child smiling at an event in Stanley, Idaho

Stanley, Idaho, prides itself on being your Trailhead to Adventure. As such, there are many more family-friendly outings in Stanley than you can fit into a weekend (horseback riding, motorcycling, skiing, climbing, snowmobiling, fishing, etc.). For more ideas of activities available in Stanley, check out our blog or our seasonal guides: Spring Guide to Stanley | Summer Guide to Stanley | Fall Guide to Stanley | Winter Guide to Stanley

Written by Amber Hawton-Hill