Posts Tagged ‘Red Fish Lake’

When year-round recreation meets picturesque views, you’ve arrived in Stanley, Idaho. This is Sawtooth Mountain country, Stanley’s most deserved accolade.

As a last chance opportunity to vacation before the next semester of school began, Stanley was our trip of choice for fresh powder, outdoor recreation and evenings of pleasant relaxation. The roads were perfectly clear as we drove up Highway 21. When a front wheel drive Toyota can make it up to Stanley in mid January, I give my thanks to the local world-class experts in snow plowing (there has to be a 4-year degree for that)!

My girlfriend and I arrived at the Sawtooth Hotel around 3:00 pm. Constructed in 1931, this vintage log cabin with a priceless view of the Sawtooth Mountains, had the most harmonious feeling. On the first floor, hand-built tables and chairs set the stage for an authentic getaway. On the second floor, we found small rooms with old fashioned amenities that make you feel like you are spending the night at grandma’s house. During the winter, the Sawtooth Hotel is open Friday through Sunday for meals. Expect to see mountain aficionados bundled up in ski pants, Salomon boots and Patagonia jackets stopping by for hot food and a cold drink after a long day of skiing.

As the sun set, we made our way up Wall Street in downtown Stanley and walked along the groomed cross country ski and snowmobile trails. The sun set behind the Sawtooth Mountains, lighting the white snow caps with a fiery glow,  like a volcano was about to erupt.

The next morning we set our sights on the pristine cross country ski trails at Alturas Lake just 20 short miles south of Stanley. Beautiful blue skies, groomed trails and untouched snow (for the backcountry folk) made for an exemplary time. Multiple maps allow plenty of variety and direction throughout the trail system. Our four-hour, 13 kilometer cross country adventure afforded immaculate views and world class photo opportunities, and won’t soon be forgotten.

On our way back from Alturas Lake we stopped along Highway 75 at Red Fish Lake. The road was closed, but that didn’t stop us. With snowshoes on and a camera across my shoulder, we walked the short mile to Little Red Fish Lake. We cut through what looked like an abandoned campsite (campsites are closed in the winter) and just as we arrived at the lake, the clouds dispersed as the sun illuminated the sky, exposing the mountains as though hidden behind large castle walls for hundreds of years.

Rounding out our perfect day with the perfect evening, we returned to the Sawtooth Hotel for a refreshing brew and signature burger that really hit the spot. The next time you’re looking for a recreational paradise with beautiful sights, stop in Stanley to satisfy your outdoor cravings.


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As a recreational fanatic and travel enthusiast, I could hardly wait to see the sights and scenery that would take place over the weekend while I helped escort some Taiwanese journalists who were being hosted by the Idaho Division of Tourism.

Heading southeast to the Magic Valley, we arrived at Shoshone Falls “The Niagara of the West.” The water was ripping and roaring from all directions as it fell 200ft crushing the area below before flattening out in the Snake River Valley. We then drove a quarter mile further up the road to Dierkes Lake. Used by a younger, family-oriented crowd, cliff jumping, swimming, lounging, and playground enjoyment filled the secluded area with smiles and enjoyment.

Our next adventure took us about 50 miles north to the Shoshone Ice Caves. A small, remote location just off Hwy 75 was a gratifying stop. As the only ice cave in Idaho, the original ice allowed the Shoshone to advertise their beer as “ice cold” – the first in the world in the early 1900s, so they claim – bringing 22 saloons to town along with world-wide bragging rights.

Heading further north we arrived in Ketchum-Sun Valley. Surrounded by mountainous scenery, this resort town is famous for dining, mountains, recreation and unique amenities. Captivating the imaginations of skiers in the winter and avid mountain bikers in the summer, Bald Mountain and the surrounding foothills make this a world-class outdoorsmen’s fantasy.

Leaving Ketchum-Sun Valley immediately placed us on the Sawtooth Scenic Byway and every corner seemed to be one breathtaking view after another. Our first jaw dropping sight took us just over Galena Summit, overlooking the start of the Salmon River and stunning Sawtooth Mountains. A very popular and gratifying climb for recreation, we saw many cyclists heading up during our descent as they winced with every pedal stroke up the steep mountain.

Continuing on we arrived at Red Fish Lake, a place I had only imagined through pictures I’d seen. This spectacular area is a picturesque location that belongs on the cover of National Geographic Magazine. Whether you are camping, fishing, hiking, boating, swimming or just admiring the sun glistening off the lake, Red Fish Lake is a priceless attraction.

Our next voyage took us through Stanley and onto the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. Awe-inspiring views were apparent as we started climbing to heightened elevations overlooking mountains and valleys. In the midst of the descent through the Scenic Byway be sure to stop at the Kirkham Hot Springs. The Taiwanese journalists were especially surprised by the fact that the hot springs are all natural, taking pictures of the hot springs and water streaming over the rock overhangs and down the river.

Continuing southwest down Hwy 21, we made a quick stop in Idaho City. The small, country-western partial ghost town, with American size ice cream scoops at Donna’s Place put sweet frozen smiles on our faces.

Making our final travels back into Boise we are impressed by the sights and sounds of Lucky Peak State Park. On the north side we passed boats pulling wake boarders across the calm waters and on the south side streams of water were forcefully pressed out into the lower lake from the dam above.

I’m amazed by the mystery that was lying around every corner of this trip. Whether you enjoy wild life, camping, recreation, site seeing, and everything in between, this part of Idaho will blow your mind!

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