Summer Guide: Top Things To Do in Stanley, Idaho
When is Stanley, Idaho’s Summer Season?
You’ve been cooped up in the house and working long hours all winter and spring. It’s finally starting to warm up, and the rainy days are dissipating. If you’re feeling an urge to travel somewhere new, to try an exhilarating outdoor sport, or to get away and stay in a beautiful cabin for the weekend, why not do all three!?
The summer season in Stanley, Idaho (Memorial day through Labor day) is perfect for tourists looking for something to rejuvenate their spirits by interrupting their daily grind. Stanley’s fresh mountain air and forest trees are the ideal antidotes since reconnecting with nature has been scientifically shown to reduce anxiety , slow down the body, and induce a sense of calmness. The Japanese call it “Shinrin-Yoku,” or “forest bathing,” and even consider it a part of their health program. Knowingly or unknowingly, these incredible health benefits draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to the town of Stanley, located at the basin of two major wilderness areas and within a federally preserved recreation area.
While that is a lot of people, they don’t all come at once, and there are plenty of opportunities and space for everyone to enjoy themselves, especially if you make reservations. In the summer, nearly every shop in Stanley is open for your convenience, most outdoor recreation is conducive to the warmer weather (apart from snow sports), and although the town of Stanley is small, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area surrounding it has plenty of space for people to disperse within its 756,000 acres!
Since you may feel overwhelmed trying to plan a getaway with such endless possibilities, we’ve taken the liberty of rounding up a few of our favorites and are publishing them here in this Summer Guide. Some suggestions you may be familiar with, and others may be a welcome surprise. Our recommendations suit the traveler looking for an outdoor adventure, a memorable event to attend (have you ever participated in a citywide nighttime street dance party?!), a five-star restaurant, and a place in the mountains to call home for the night.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- What Are the Top Outdoor Recreation Adventures in Stanley, Idaho in Summer?
- Top Way to Relax in Stanley, Idaho During Summer
- Stanley’s Top Summer Attractions and Events
- Top Restaurants in Stanley, Idaho to Try This Summer
- Ultimate Shops In Stanley, Idaho for Anything You Need This Summer
- Where Are the Best Places to Stay in Stanley, Idaho, During the Summer?
What Are the Top Outdoor Recreation Adventures in Stanley, Idaho in Summer?
During the summer in Stanley, you can expect average temperatures in the 70’s, long hours of daylight, flowers to be in full bloom, animals to be out and about, the forest to be rich shades of green, a spectacular view of the Sawtooths, and an even more spectacular view of the night sky. All of this adds up to some fantastic opportunities for outdoor recreation. Here are a few of our favorites:
When you think of Stanley in summer, you might begin daydreaming of fishing. With over 300 lakes in the Stanley Basin, the headwaters of the Salmon River, a picturesque mountain view, and world-renowned fishing, it is easy to understand why.
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
Always check with the Idaho Fish and Game on bag limits, special rules, open seasons, gear/bait restrictions, and which species are catch-and-release before you cast your line.
The following are some of the top fishing guides and resources in the Stanley region that can help make your dreams a reality:
Float Boat Fishing Guides
Mountain Lake Fishing Guides
Multi-Day Fishing Trips Guides
Stanley Area Fishing Information
If you’re an avid angler, there’s a good chance you also appreciate hunting. Stanley, Idaho, doesn’t disappoint for either sport. Take advantage of booking a local outfitter to help with your bear hunts in June and your once-in-a-lifetime Bighorn Sheep hunt in August.
Best Summer Hunting Guides
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) is 756,000 acres of federally preserved wilderness surrounding the town of Stanley, Idaho. Within are over 700 trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Below is a list of some of our favorite trails for mountain biking:
Top Biking Trails Near Stanley
Boundary Loop | Crooked River Trail Mores Creek Summit to Sunset Mountain | Elk Mountain Loop | Fisher Creek Loop | Fourth of July Lake Trail | Little Casino - Big Casino Loop | Redfish Lake Loop | Stanley Lake to Bridalveil Falls Trail
Top Summer Bike Rental and Bike Repair Shops
Best Summer Mountain Biking Guides
Best Trail Guidebook and Map
Standard rock and alpine climbing seasons depend on where you are climbing but generally begin around June in Stanley. The climbs are said to be some of the best in the United States. For added fun, keep an eye out for summit boxes!
Best Easy Climbs Near Stanley in Summer
Little Fall Creek | Redfish Boulder | Super Slabs (Behind Redfish Lake) | Trail Creek Summit
Best Advanced Climbs Near Stanley in Summer
Barron Spire | Blue Rock Buttress | Classic couloirs and snow climbs in the Sawtooths, Boulders, Lost Rivers, and Pioneers | The Elephants Perch | Finger of Fate | Mount Heyburn | North and South Rakers | Warbonnet Peak | Thompson Peak
Best Climbing Gear
Best Climbing Guides
Guidebook and Maps
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is an incredible experience to be had. Areas within it boast the cleanest air of all the lower 48 states , the longest continental Salmon run, and a variety of alpine hikes. Here are a few of our favorite hikes and the resources to get you there.
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 | East Fork of the Salmon River
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 Hiking Guides in Summer
Best Summer Hiking Guides
Top Summer Hiking Gear Rentals
Top Summer Hiking Pack Stock Rentals
Hire one of our local horseback trail guides who can take you to remote areas where you can truly appreciate the beauty of the surrounding wilderness. Options include half-day and multi-day rides.
Top Horseback Trail Guides and Rentals
Idaho is home to 3,100 miles of whitewater rafting. That’s more than any other state in the contiguous US. Idaho is known for having some of the best whitewater in the world and should be on any paddler’s to-raft list! Adrenaline seekers flock from around the world to experience the eddies, chutes, and rapids of the Salmon River, along with the preserved wildlife and land surrounding it.
Here are a few of our favorite knowledgeable guides (aka Paddle Captains) who can help ensure you stay within the US Forest Services’ limit of launches, know navigable routes, and provide a safer river rafting experience.
Day Stretch Guides
Middle Fork Guides
Main Salmon Guides
ATV/UTV season typically runs from Memorial Day to the end of September, depending on weather and trail conditions. Riding one deep into the wilderness offers an escape from crowds and the opportunity to see undisturbed wildlife. As a bonus, most rented ATVs/UTVs are equipped with GPS to ensure you find your way back safely.
Top ATV/UTV Rentals
Top Ways to Relax in Stanley, Idaho, During Summer
If soaking in a hot tub is your idea of relaxing, try soaking in a natural hot spring! Imagine all the benefits a hot tub offers — stress relief, muscle relaxation, better sleep, reduced pain, improved cardiovascular health — plus detoxifying, softening, and aiding in medical conditions (psoriasis and eczema) of your skin! Hot springs also have trace mineral absorption, which provides health benefits. There are plenty of hot springs near Stanley to choose from:
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
Stanley’s Top Summer Attractions and Events
In summer, the town of Stanley is buzzing with excitement. There are additional attractions around the city and an average of 90+ summer events. Whether you enjoy live music and street dancing, educational teachings, art, or looking at the stars, there is something for everyone. As proof, we’ve compiled a list below:
Top Stanley Attractions/Events Throughout Summer
Stargazing at the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve | Tent or RV camping in the wilderness | Stanley Museum | The Redfish Visitor Center & Gallery | Gerheim Gallery | Custer Ghost Town | Scenic drives around the SNRA and Redfish Lake | Wildlife & Wildflower viewing | Weddings | Yankee Fork Gold Dredge | Sawtooth Fish Hatchery | Sunset Appetizer Cruise or Pontoon (Redfish Lake Lodge) | Thursday Night Street Dance | Music on the Lawn (Redfish Lake Lodge) | Photography
Top Stanley Events Memorial Day Through June
Top Stanley Attractions and Events in July
Top Stanley Attractions and Events in August
Top Restaurants in Stanley, Idaho to Try This Summer
In a town that prides itself on providing top-rate service to its visitors, you can expect an excellent experience at any of the locally owned restaurants, diners, and lounges. Stanley's restaurant scene will whet any foodie's appetite with menus featuring gastro pub, bar, cafe, pizza, pastry, seafood, bistro, and international cuisines. The outdoor seating is some of the most spectacular in the state, with the rustic Sawtooth Mountains as the backdrop!
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
Ultimate Shops In Stanley, Idaho for Anything You Need This Summer
Although it may feel like you’re far away from the conveniences of a big city, our local shops have got you covered for just about anything you might need while visiting Stanley.
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
Where Are the Best Places to Stay in Stanley, Idaho During the Summer?
When you want to spend a day out enjoying the outdoors, consider using Stanley as a basecamp to return to at night for a warm bed and delicious meal. If you’re struggling to find a place, look into lodging alternatives like renting a camper van! As always, remember to recreate responsibly to help keep Stanley beautiful and free of human cause wildfires.
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
We invite you to experience your new favorite summer destination with your family and friends! Make the most of your summer and remedy those winter blues with a magical visit to Stanley, Idaho. The recreation is good for your heart, the food is good for your tummy, the wilderness is good for your mind, and the connection with others here for the same reason is good for your soul!
For recommendations on the top things to do in Stanley, Idaho, during other seasons, read our Fall Guide, Winter Guide, and Spring Guide.