Spring Guide: Top Things To Do in Stanley, Idaho
Stanley, Idaho, is located in the heart of Idaho within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area—one of only 18 national recreation areas in the United States! With 756,000+ acres of land, three wilderness areas (Hemingway Boulder Mountains, the Cecil Andrus White Clouds, and the Sawtooth Wilderness), over 300 alpine lakes, 700 miles of trails, 20+ hot springs, and rapids surrounding the town, Stanley, Idaho is your trailhead to Idaho adventure! These natural amenities offer recreation throughout the year, such as fishing, boating, canoeing, SUPing, kayaking, hunting, mountain biking, climbing, hiking, horseback riding, river rafting, skiing, ATVing, snowmobiling, camping, RVing, soaking in hot springs, wildlife viewing, and stargazing. And, if you’re more of a stay-in-town-to-relax-enjoy-the-view-and-shop kind of person, Stanley has you covered for that too!
Here are just a few of our favorite reviews left by Google Guides about the historic town via the Google Business Profile for Redfish Lake:
- “Perfect weather, live music, and friends- this is what lifelong memories are made of. You should add this place to your bucket list.”
- “I absolutely loved it there. Everyone was always helpful and kind. Beautiful place! Wonderful adventure!”
- “The water is so clear you think you are in the Caribbean with a view of gorgeous mountains. I can't wait to go back.”
- “Best camping adventure our family has had so far! We will definitely be making this a yearly trip!”
- “This is easily one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Definitely worth a visit. I probably shouldn't even do this review because I wish it would stay a secret.”
Table of Contents
- When is Stanley, Idaho’s Spring Season?
- How Do You Get to Stanley, Idaho?
- What Are the Top Outdoor Recreation Adventures in Stanley, Idaho in Spring?
- What Is the Top Way to Relax in Stanley, Idaho, During Spring?
- What Events or Attractions Are Fun in Stanley During Spring?
- What Are the Best Restaurants in Stanley, Idaho, Open During Spring?
- Where Can You Shop In Stanley, Idaho, During Spring?
- Where are the Best Places to Spend the Night in Stanley, Idaho, During Spring?
When is Stanley, Idaho’s Spring Season?
Stanley's spring season runs from March to Memorial Day. During the spring, residents of the town enjoy the end of winter and prepare for a busy summer season. Since it might feel overwhelming to know where to start when planning your spring trip, we've compiled this Guide, heaped full of our recommendations for all the best things to do in Stanley this spring.
First, you'll need to know how to get here.
How Do You Get to Stanley, Idaho?
Due to elevation, the roads leading to Stanley, Idaho, may still be snowy during spring, so be sure to check the weather, road conditions , and our webcams before you leave. Since each of the three roads to Stanley is along a designated scenic byway (this is the only city in the US where this happens), you're about to experience some of the most spectacular views in the entire state. The Sawtooth Scenic Byway is from the south, the Ponderosa Scenic Byway is from the north, and the Salmon River Scenic Byway is from the east. Enjoy the scenery and drive safely!
Directions From Boise, Idaho to Stanley, Idaho
Main Route: Take ID-55 to Banks. Turn right on Banks-Lowman Highway ID-17, going East to ID-21. Then, turn left on ID-21 to Stanley.
Alternate Route: Take ID-21 to Stanley, passing through historic Idaho City and Lowman. Approximately 130 miles.
Directions From Salt Lake City to Stanley, Idaho
Main Route: Take I-15 North to I-84 West to US-93 North at Twin Falls, which changes to ID-75 at Shoshone, through Ketchum to Stanley.
Alternate Route: Take I-15 North to US-26 West at Blackfoot, then US-93 North at Arco to Challis. Turn left on ID-75 at Challis to Stanley. Approximately 380 miles to Stanley.
Directions From Sun Valley, Idaho to Stanley, Idaho
Main Route: Take ID-75 for 60 miles to Stanley.
What Are the Top Outdoor Recreation Adventures in Stanley, Idaho in Spring?
The concentration of natural amenities in the Salmon region is mind-boggling. Here are a few of our favorite world-class outdoor recreation opportunities available in spring:
Occasionally, fishing outfitters can open for a few weeks in the spring, from March through April. That is if steelhead numbers are high. Then they may close for part of April and May. If you plan to go fishing without a guide, always check the regulations with the Idaho Fish and Game. You should know bag limits, special rules, open seasons, gear/bait restrictions, and which species are catch-and-release.
Images from Unsplash
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 catch 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
Float Boat Fishing Guides
The River Company | Salmon River Anglers
Mountain Lake Fishing Guides
Sawtooth Mountain Guides | White Cloud Outfitters
Multi-Day Fishing Trips Guides
Aggipah River Trips | Middle Fork River Expeditions | Mystic Saddle Ranch | White Cloud Outfitters
Stanley Area Fishing Information
Stanley Fly Shop | View Steelhead Counting Stations | Idaho Department of Fish and Game Rules and Regulations
Stanley Fly Shop | Mountain Village Resort
Spring black bear hunts begin in May and continue through June. We recommend hiring an outfitter because they can help ensure your safety by being licensed, insured, and CPR certified. They can also increase your hunt's success by knowing the land's geography, where bears frequent, and how to bait them.
Best Spring Hunting Outfitters
White Cloud Outfitters | Mystic Saddle Ranch
From when the snow first flies to as long as the snow is on the ground, you can enjoy skiing in the Stanley area. Ski mountaineering is popular in March and April when the snow is most stable. This type of skiing incorporates alpine climbing skills with ski descents to get into more technical terrain. We highly recommend you hire a private guide who can take you in a group of up to four people.
If you're new to ski mountaineering and would like to learn about avalanches, take advantage of the Guide's educational programs, where you'll have classroom and field experience to help you prepare.
Guides and Avalanche Education
Grooming Report: Sawtooth Ski Club
Winter Recreation Map: Sawtooth and Stanley Basin
Winter Recreation Map: Lowman, Deadwood, and Dagger Falls to Valley Creek
| Park Creek Nordic Trail Map | Alturas Nordic Trail Map
As with most spring and winter recreation in Stanley, the snowmobiling season depends on the weather and trail conditions. If there is still snow and the trails are groomed, snowmobiles can be rented from December 20th through the second or third week of March. Your helmet and first tank of gas are included! You can’t go wrong picking a groomed trail, because each offers spectacularly beautiful views that can be very humbling.
Top Snowmobile Rentals
Sawtooth & White Cloud Mountains Trail Map
What Is the Top Way to Relax in Stanley, Idaho, During Spring?
Why not plan a themed vacation each time you visit Stanley? You could make it an annual summer event with new pursuits each year. One fun theme could be to see how many hot springs you can discover during your trip. Gather a small group of friends and check off these 20+ nearby hot springs from your “To-Soak List.”
Mountain Village Hot Springs : Talk about perks! Staying at the Mountain Village Lodge comes with the benefit of reserving their partially indoor hot spring. You’ll have the added benefit of a beautiful view of the Sawtooths!
Hot Springs in the Stanley Area
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
Lunch break Warm Spring | Owen Cabin | Slate Creek (Hoodoo) | Sunbeam | Upper Loon
Hot Springs West of Stanley on Highway 21
Bonneville | Deadwood | Kirkham | Pine Flats | Sacajawea | Tenmile
What to Know Before You Go Hot Spring Hopping
- Some hot springs are located on National Forest lands with accompanied day parking. The fee is usually around $5/day or $15/night if you stay in a campground.
- A few hot springs are directly off the highway and have minimal parking options. If you come across a full parking area, it’s better to move on to the next hot spring or try again later than to park unsafely off the highway. There’s a good chance the hot spring is overcrowded anyway.
- Recreate responsibly and leave the area nicer than you found it. Pack out any trash you bring or any you find.
- Be forewarned that some people take a “clothing is optional” approach at hot springs.
- A high volume of spring runoff can make finding hot springs on the river difficult to find. Watch for steam to help direct you.
- Hot springs can be right off the highway or require a few miles of hiking. Remote areas do not have cell service. So, always download maps and plan your route before you.
- Check with your medical provider if it's safe for you to go. Hot springs could complicate certain conditions.
- As with any trip, tell someone where you plan to go.
What Events or Attractions Are Fun in Stanley During Spring?
As summer draws near, our spring event calendar starts to fill up. Be sure to check it around the dates of your travel to make the most of your visit.
Top Stanley Attractions/Events Throughout Spring
Stargazing at the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve | Tent or RV Camping in the Wilderness | Custer Ghost Town | Wildlife Viewing | Weddings | Yankee Fork Gold Dredge | Sawtooth Fish Hatchery | Photography
Top Stanley Events in March
Scenic Drives Around the SNRA and Redfish Lake | Wildflower Viewing
Top Stanley Attractions and Events in April
Steelhead Fishing | Wildflower Viewing
Top Stanley Attractions and Events in May
Redfish Lake Lodge Run | Cowboy Poets of Idaho Summer Picnic | Stanley Museum | The Redfish Visitor Center & Gallery | Gerheim Gallery | Sunset Appetizer Cruise or Pontoon (Redfish Lake Lodge) | Thursday Night Street Dance | Music on the Lawn (Redfish Lake Lodge) | Gold Panning
What Are the Best Restaurants in Stanley, Idaho, Open During Spring?
Be sure to fuel up before and after your daily adventures! Check out these top-rated Stanley restaurants keep you moving.
Top Stanley Restaurants Open in Summer
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
Where Can You Shop In Stanley, Idaho, During Spring?
Whatever you’re looking for, there’s a good chance one of our shops has you covered!
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
The Top Shops
Balance Bike Works | Gerheim Gallery | Mountain Village Mercantile | Redfish Lake Lodge General Store | Riverwear |
| Stanley Fly Shop | The Sawmill Station
Where are the Best Places to Spend the Night in Stanley, Idaho, During Spring?
When planning your spring excursion to Stanley, make sure to set aside at least a few days. It's impossible to experience everything in just a day, and many activities can tire you. You'll be grateful for a clean, comfortable night's rest between adventures.
Hotels and Motels
Lower Stanley Country Cabins & Motel | Mountain Village Resort | Redfish Lake Lodge | Redfish Riverside Inn | Redwood Cabins | Sawtooth Hotel | Stanley High Country Inn | Stanley Town Square | Stanley Vacation Rentals | The Stanley Outpost | Triangle C Cabins | Valley Creek Lodge & RV Park
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
Diamond D Ranch | Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch | May Family Ranch
Mountain Village Resort | Stanley RV + Camp | Torreys Burnt Creek Inn | Valley Creek Lodge & RV Park
As witnessed in the opening of this resource guide by the reviews people have left, Stanley is a special place that tends to leave visitors wanderlusting to return. Visit Stanley and make your own memories of nature's playground, where the waters are clear, recreation options are endless, and the mountain vistas are breathtaking.
For recommendations on the top things to do in Stanley, Idaho, during other seasons, read our Fall Guide, Winter Guide, and Summer Guide.