Fall Guide: Top Things To Do in Stanley, Idaho


When is Stanley, Idaho’s Fall Season?

If you want to experience Stanley, Idaho, and the surrounding area at a slower pace, consider arriving during Stanley’s fall season. Occurring just after Labor Day through the first week of November, the Autumn season is marked by a shift back to routine life for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the Stanley area each year and for the Idahoans who live there. By fall, school is back in session; cooler temperatures sneak into warm sunny days, and most of the sockeye salmon have made their exhausting journey back to Redfish Lake to spawn. A slower, more peaceful tempo replaces the town’s summer hustle and bustle.

We’ve put together this Fall Guide of the top things to do in Stanley, Idaho, to assist in maximizing the most of your visit based on which businesses are open and what the environment has to offer. Whether you're looking for an exciting outdoor experience, a fun event to attend, an eatery with delicious bites, gear/souvenir shops, or a place to rest and recuperate for tomorrow’s adventure, we hope you’ll find this comprehensive guide a helpful resource.

Table of Contents

What Are the Top Outdoor Recreation Adventures in Stanley, Idaho, in Fall?


Stanley is renowned for some of the Northwest's best bank, wade, and float fishing. So, it’s with good reason that anglers in the area are packed to the gills with fishing lore. “Lunkers,” “whoppers,” and “whales” live in the Salmon River, its tributaries, and the 300+ lakes nearby. So if you don’t have a tale to tell, it’s time to hang up your “Gone Fishin’” sign and catch one.

Top Places to Fish Near Stanley

The Middle Fork and Upper Main Salmon Rivers | Stanley Lake | Redfish Lake | Sawtooth Lake | Alpine Lake | Goat Lake | The Trail Creek Lakes

Top Fish Species In Lakes and Rivers Near Stanley

You can find the following fish species around the Salmon Region (* Indicates always catch-and-release):

Arctic Grayling | Bass | Brook Trout | Bull Trout* | Crayfish | Cutthroat Trout | Golden Trout | Kokanee | Lake Trout | Rainbow Trout | Salmon | Steelhead | Sturgeon* | Sunapee Trout | Trout Hybrids (e.g., Tiger Trout) | Tiger Muskie | Whitefish

Check with the Idaho Fish and Game for bag limits, open season, special rules, and gear/bait restrictions. Before casting your line, double-check which species are catch-and-release. (Hint: some species change per season.)

An elk standing in a field in front of a hill
Photo Credit: Karsten Winegeart


While there’s something for everyone to do in Stanley, fall is an especially perfect time to visit for those that love hunting. This is due to an uptick in animal activity from breeding and a bounty of food resources. Take advantage of booking a local outfitter to help increase the success of your backcountry hunt. The following are recommended for archery elk and antelope hunts in September, controlled rifle and mule deer hunts in October, and cow elk hunting with friends and family in November.

Best Fall Hunting Guides

White Cloud Outfitters | Mystic Saddle Ranch


Typically, Stanley's climbing season goes through the end of October, but it's invaluable to check conditions ahead of time and know that snow and cold weather can occur anytime.

Best Easy Climbs Near Stanley in Summer

Little Fall Creek | Redfish Boulder | Super Slabs (Behind Redfish Lake) | Trail Creek Summit

Best Difficult Climbs Near Stanley in Summer

The Elephants Perch| Finger of Fate | North Face of Mt. Borah (Idaho’s highest peak) | Warbonnet Peak

Best Climbing Gear

Sawtooth Mountain Guides | Riverwear

Top Climbing Guides

Sawtooth Mountain Guides

Guidebook and Maps

Summit Post | Mountain Project | Sawtooth & White Cloud Mountains Trail Map

A view over a lake with mountains in the background
Photo Credit: Perry Kibler

Hiking Trails, Guides, Gear, and Pack Stock

Stanley is a haven for outdoor recreation, including hiking. There are 71 scenic trails around the Basin, according to alltrails.com. We’ve gathered an insider’s list of favorite hikes, hiking guides, hiking gear, and hiking pack stock rentals below:

Top Easy-Rated Hiking Trails

Fishhook Creek Trail | Lily Pond and Redfish Lake Creek Falls

Top Moderate-Rated Hiking Trails

Alpine Lake via Trail 640 and Alpine Way Trail | Bench Lakes Trail | Fourth of July Lake Trail | Hell Roaring Creek Trail to Hell Roaring Lake | Pettit Lake to Twin Lakes via Trail 095 | Sawtooth Lake via Iron Creek Stanley Lake Trail

Top Advanced-Rated Hiking Trails

Alice Lake, Twin Lake, Edith Lake Loop | Alpine Way to Stanley Lake Trail | Goat Lake and Goat Falls via Iron Creek Trail, Alpine Way Trail | Tin Cup Hiker | Redfish Lake Trail | Boundary Creek Trail

Best Fall Hiking Guides

Sawtooth Mountain Guides

Top Fall Hiking Gear Rentals


Top Fall Hiking Pack Stock Rentals

Mystic Saddle Ranch | Valley Ranch Outfitters | White Cloud Outfitters

Mountain Biking

Whether you’re a beginner or Mountain Bike (MTB) enthusiast, the Stanley area has a vast resource of scenic trails. Prepare for your adventure by clicking the link to view a map of trails in the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountains or purchase the map from one of our local bike shops. Check out the Stanley Trails app for iPhones if you prefer a mobile map.

Top Fall Mountain Biking Trails

Redfish Lake Loop | Fisher Creek Loop | Elk Meadows Loop

Once you plan a route, you can rent a bike from a local vendor or bring your own. Either way, it's worth it to ride a single steep trail with technical climbs, discover a mountain meadow or stunning view, enjoy pristine streams, and more. You can rent bikes between the following shops, including e-bikes, hardtail, full suspension, fat tire, cruisers, and youth bike options. There is no need to worry if you run into trouble with your bike, as they also offer bike repairs.

Top Fall Bike Rentals and Bike Repairs

Balance Bike Works | Sawtooth Adventure Company

With so many trails to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, especially if you are new to the sport. For a memorable trip, consider hiring a local mountain biking guide who can show you the ropes on a Half Day Guided Mountain Bike Ride (perfect for all ages and abilities). If you’re looking for a more challenging ride, consider an Overnight Ride and Camp. As always, call ahead to make reservations.

Best Fall Mountain Biking Guides

Sawtooth Adventure Company

Horseback Trail Riding

We've shared with you about hiking and biking, but another top fall outdoor activity in Stanley, which you may be interested in, is horseback trail riding. You can rent a horse and join an experienced guide for an hour-long to day-long trip. Guided horseback trail riding is one of the best ways to travel deep into the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and experience wild flora and fauna in their purest form. A deposit may be required when booking, and reservations are highly recommended.

Top Fall Horseback Trail Guides and Rentals

Mystic Saddle Ranch | White Cloud Outfitters

ATV / UTV / Motorcycling / Offroading

If you love offroading, check out one of our local ATV/UTVs rental vendors. Many vehicles are equipped with GPS to ensure you stay on course and find your way back home through our hundreds of trails in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Rentals may depend on weather conditions, so be sure to call ahead. Typically, the season runs through the end of September.

Top Fall ATV/UTV Rentals

Sawtooth Traxx | The Sawmill Station

What Is the Top Way to Relax in Stanley, Idaho During Fall?

Did you know Idaho has 130 soakable hot springs? One could argue there’s no better way to relax than by taking a dip in one of the many hot springs in and around Stanley, Idaho. In addition to promoting relaxation and sleep, hot springs also boost circulation, alleviate pain, and are full of silica and minerals, which are great for your skin. That said, check with your doctor if you have health concerns or are pregnant before soaking.

Keeping your favorite hot spring, hunting area, and huckleberry picking spots a secret is usually the norm, but because we have a plethora, we feel it's only fair to share. So, we’ve compiled a master list of the top hot springs in and around Stanley here:

Local Spa / Private Hot Springs

Those staying at the Mountain Village Lodge enjoy inclusive access to a semi-enclosed natural hot spring. The created pool features piped-in water and is perfect for up to eight guests. Reservations are required.

Mountain Village Hot Springs

Hot Springs in the Stanley Area

There are numerous hot springs in the Stanley area, including Basin Creek Campground | Basin Creek (Cove/Kem) | Bear Valley | Bonus | Boundary Creek | Dagger Creek | Elkhorn (Boat Box) | Mormon Bend | Sheepeater | Sitting Bull | Snake Pit | Trail Flat

Hot Springs North of Stanley On Highway 75

The following are a few hot springs located north of Stanley, Idaho, on highway 75: Lunch break Warm Spring | Owen Cabin | Slate Creek (Hoodoo) | Sunbeam | Upper Loon

Hot Springs West of Stanley on Highway 21

There are even a few hot springs west of Stanley, including Bonneville | Deadwood | Kirkham | Pine Flats | Sacajawea | Tenmile

Wooded hill behind a lake, with mountains in the background
Photo Credit: Perry Kibler

What Are the Best Fall Attractions and Events in Stanley?

While the overall pace is slower after the close of summer, there are still plenty of attractions and events to keep you busy if you decide to visit Stanley in the fall. Here are a few that we recommend:

Top Stanley Attractions Throughout Fall

Leaves changing colors | Stargazing at the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve | Tent or RV camping in the wilderness | Custer Ghost Town | Scenic drives around the SNRA and Redfish Lake | Wildlife viewing | Weddings | Yankee Fork Gold Dredge | Sawtooth Fish Hatchery | Photography | Annual SVRF Department’s Fireman’s Ball (Fundraiser) | Live Music at The Mountain Village Saloon and Kasino Club

What Are the Best Restaurants in Stanley, Idaho, Open During Fall?

Suppose you’re planning a restorative mountain getaway to Stanley, Idaho, this fall based on a recommendation from a trusted confidante. In that case, chances are they urged you to dine at one of their favorite restaurants in town. You’re lucky because there are many best-kept-secret eateries in Stanley, Idaho. The Google reviews speak for themselves. With descriptions like “homemade,” “perfection,” “out of this world,” “incredible,” “best meal I’ve ever had,” “very friendly,” and more, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out! So, do yourself and your tastebuds a favor and discover what all of the fanfare is about.

Top Stanley Restaurants Open in Fall

Kasino Club | Mountain Village Restaurant, Saloon, and Dance Hall | Papa Brunees Pizza Subs | Redfish Lake Lodge Limbert's Dining Room | Sawtooth Hotel | Stanley Baking Co. & Cafe | Stanley Supper Club | The Sawmill Bistro

What Are The Top Shops In Stanley, Idaho, Open in Fall?

Although the town of Stanley is small, we have some fabulous local shops that carry just about everything you need to have an excellent visit this fall, especially if you forgot something.

Items Available for Sale in Stanley, Idaho Shops

Biking supplies | Clothing | Curios & Souvenirs | Grocery and convenience store items | Hunting & fishing permits and supplies | Liquor | Maps | Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) supplies and registration stickers | Shoes | Sporting goods

Best Stores in Stanley Open During Fall

Balance Bike Works | Mountain Village Mercantile & ID State Liquor Store | Redfish Lake Lodge General Store | Riverwear | The Sawmill Station Country Store

Great Places to Sleep in Stanley, Idaho During the Fall Season

The best way to end an exciting day of outdoor adventures, sightseeing, eating, soaking in hot springs, or shopping is to wind down for sleep in comfortable accommodation. There is no shortage of options from hotels, motels, vacation and cabin rentals, guest ranches, RV Parks, and even camper vans, but there can be a lack of availability. So, be sure to make a reservation well in advance of your fall excursion.

Hotels and Motels

Lower Stanley Country Cabins & Motel | Mountain Village Resort | Redfish Lake Lodge | Redfish Riverside Inn | Sawtooth Hotel | Stanley High Country Inn | Stanley Town Square | Stanley Vacation Rentals | The Stanley Outpost | Triangle C Cabins

Vacation Homes & Cabin Rentals

Beckwith Lodge | French Creek Ranch | Ol’ Dredge Cabin | Redfish Lake Lodge | Sawtooth Vista Rentals | Torreys Burnt Creek Inn | Yankee Fork Cabin

Guest Ranches

May Family Ranch

RV Parks

Mountain Village Resort | Stanley RV + Camp | Torreys Burnt Creek Inn

Camper Vans


Have you started daydreaming or making notes about all the top things you’d like to do in Stanley for an autumn adventure? Are you eager to see how many hot springs you can visit in a weekend, excited to go horseback riding for the first time, tempted to try that cinnamon roll at the local bakery you read about in the Idaho Statesman? Maybe you’ve even texted a friend or told your partner how much fun it would be to go on a guided hike with them.

Approximately 62 miles from Sun Valley,130 miles from Boise, and 380 miles from Salt Lake City, Stanley, Idaho, is your trailhead to Idaho adventure. Our 263+ residents pride themselves on making guests feel welcomed and are eager to help answer any questions you might have, from where the best bike trails are to fun upcoming events to Packing Tips for Your Fall Getaway to Stanley. Make reservations with our local businesses today and enjoy a fabulous fall getaway!

For recommendations on the top things to do in Stanley, Idaho, during other seasons, read our Winter Guide, Spring Guide, and Summer Guide.