The third leg of our summer road trip was spent in the Idaho mountains, and probably my favorite part of the whole trip. Here are some highlights…
We spent the first week in Stanley, Idaho (great name, right??). This is a very small mountain town at the base of the Sawtooth Mountain Range about 2 hours from Boise. Jared had spent some time up here when he was in college and had been wanting to come back again since it’s such an outdoor mecca in the summer. Think Jackson Hole, Wyoming 20 years ago before all the money rolled in, and the scenery is just as spectacular as the Teton Range in my opinion too. About 45 minutes from Sun Valley, it has its share of tourists, but still lots of dirt roads and low key motels.
I had also heard awesome things about Redfish Lake and Lodge for families. We had a week before meeting my sister and her family in McCall, so we planned on spending the entire week exploring Stanley.
Redfish Lake Lodge is a really popular spot and very difficult to book a cabin, for good reason. It sits at the base of Redfish Lake, right under the dramatic Sawtooth mountain range. You can take a boat shuttle across the lake to start all kinds of incredible hikes and backpacking trips in the Sawtooth range. We booked two nights midweek in a rustic cabin (even 6 months in advance it was hard to get!).
All of the cabins sit right on the lake surrounding the lodge with a restaurant, saloon, a little store, bike rentals to cruise around the lake, the beach area/dock, and boat rentals. There’s also a grill right on the beach open for lunch and dinner. The convenience was so easy for families, I really appreciated how well thought out it all was!
On the dock there’s a sandy beach area, and all sorts of boats you can rent for an hourly rate (and easily charge directly to your cabin). Everything was very reasonable too, nothing here is too pricey (with the exception maybe of the fancy-ish restaurant).
Even though we only spent two nights here, we came back and hung out during the day afterwards. It’s such a great spot for families. Each day we’d rent boats, swim, and order food at the grill for lunch. A repeat in the afternoon with an evening motor boat rental, dinner at the lodge or grill, and Jared and I sneaking out to the saloon in the evening since our cabin was a stone’s throw away.
One day we took the shuttle across the lake to hike up a bit in the Sawtooths. We kept our expectations low and actually ended up making it a couple miles with everyone *mostly hiking (a miracle, really). The views were just stunning!
After our two night stay at Redfish Lake Lodge we hopped around a bit. We stayed at another hotel right in town, and camped a couple nights as well. One night we camped in forest service area (dispersed), and another we camped in designated campsites. Neither we reserved or planned much before and it ended up being fine. In the evenings one night a week they have a big band and bbq, which was a lot of fun. The whole (dirt) main road closes down and the town all hangs out, dancing, eating and drinking.
There’s a lot of stuff to do around Stanley. We went to the Sunbeam springs one day right on the river (they were kind of washed out) but still really fun.
I also took Edie and Henry on their first rafting trip! Really gentle class 2 and 3 rapids. They both loved it so much! River trips are some of my very favorites (remember our first girls backpacking trip was a canoe trip in Northern Maine?).
One of my favorite things was driving up to the old ghost town in Custer, Idaho (stop at the Sunbeam hot springs on the way!). Just be sure you give yourself enough time to walk around and explore, there’s a lot to see and we got there right as they were closing at 4pm.
Beautiful old historic homes and lots to learn about what life was like in these old Mountain West towns.
One afternoon Henry and I went horseback riding on the most scenic trail. Such an iconic western experience! They gave free pony rides to the girls while they waited.
We’re already planning to come back here another time (maybe even buying property here??). Before we left we bought up all the Stanley swag, ha! Jared and Henry both got these hats.
Stanley is such an incredibly special place.