The holidays seem to bring a fury of questions about the river, visiting Stanley and exploring the Sawtooths. I felt it was a prime opportunity to help. After 20 years of helping friends, family and guests plan summer vacations in the Sawtooths here are a few recommendations.
Stanley, Idaho Vacation Tips & Hints
1. Plan early, lodging is your crux. Stanley’s saving grace to staying the small, chill mountain town Mecca…a limited amount of lodging. Stanley is a stunning place and as Boise grows (fastest growing city in the US!) finding lodging in Stanley will only get more difficult. Many places, once your in…your in and they will include you in any early booking opportunities. You can find a complete listings of ALL Stanley, Idaho lodging here
2. We joke….Do you know there are only 2 seasons in Stanley? Winter and July.
No doubt July is a breathtaking month in Stanley. June, August and September are also amazing and offer the same number of amenities and SIGNIFICANTLY less people. Planning your vacation outside of the month of July will significianly open up your lodging options, WAY less people at Redfish beach and a much shorter line at the Bakery.
3. Rule of thumb…June is Whitewater & hot springs. August and September means lake living, Mountain Biking & Fly Fishing.
4. If you have visited Redfish Lake Lodge you understand why it is our favorite place in the valley. At the same time, it gets very, very busy. Weekends are exceptionally buzzing as the weekenders escape the heat of Boise and fill out campgrounds to capacity. If you want stay at Redfish you will need to make reservations in early September for the following summer. Campgrounds reserve out 6 months in advance.
5. All this talk about avoiding July, I feel a little guilty. Why… Because 4th of July in Stanley is AMAZING! The whitewater is pumping, trails are in prime condition, the valley is GREEN and nightly live music at Stanley’s Velvet Falls Dance Hall. Not to mention, our favorite little town throws a BIG birthday party for America!. Stanley Idaho’s 4th of July is world-class and should be on everyone’s bucket list. Old fire engines, horse drawn wagons, kids on bikes and a HUGE water fight between rafts companies, all topped off with an amazing firework show under the Sawtooths.
Our multi-day, all inclusive family trip started on the River of No Return in 2007 and have grown in popularity ever since. While all of out trips are welcoming for families, our Kid Trip on the River of No Return and the Teen Trip on the Middle Fork stand out. These two trips are catered to families with kids and teens, guaranteeing the ultimate family adventure.
How are these trip different?
We bulk-up the guide teams with our most kid-friendly, outgoing, fun loving staff that cannot help but show you a great time. The guides are professional, friendly, and most important great role models for your kids.
We bring along additional games and activities to keep the fun rolling all week long
The annual River Olympics is a SAC tradition. The games start on day 1 and ends with an awards ceremony on the final night. Your kids will take away prizes, lifelong nicknames and great memories .
We adapt the menu. While we continue our tradition of fabulously creative, fresh and healthy cuisine, but also add some kid-frinedly favorites.
Sawtooth Adventure Company offers an array of Paddle Board rentals ideal to maximize the SUP possibilities in the Sawtooth Valley. Beginners to advanced paddlers will find an abundance of river and flat-water options surrounding Stanley, Idaho
New this summer… Sawtooth Adventure Company proudly offers Glide SUPs for area lakes. The high performance, handcrafted Glide boards are made in the USA. Not only do Glide boards perform, but they also boast the most environmentally conscience construction available.
Located 15 minutes from SAC headquarters. This pristine lake in the shadows of McGown Peak is a local favorite. Stanley Lake is at elevation 6500 ft , 1 mile long and 1/2 mile wide. Stanley Lake has very little boat traffic in comparison to Redfish lake. Crystal clear, glassy flat-water is the norm. Local beta…early morning is best for lack of crowds, lack of mosquitoes and glassy water.
Little Redfish Lake
Little Redfish is much smaller, and less crowded than its big brother up the road. At elevation 6,400, Little Redfish is 1/2 mile wide, by 1/2 mile long. What this lake lacks in size, it makes up in lack of crowds. It is common to have the lake to yourself in the middle of summer. A great meandering stream and wetlands feed Little Redfish offering some great exploring and fishing opportunities. Local beta…great sunset paddle, the reflection of the sunlit Sawtooths is world-class!
The jewel of the Sawtooths. Elevation 6540, 4.4 miles long and 3/4 mile wide. The 11 miles of shoreline offers ample space to find your own piece of paradise. On the Southern end you will find the transfer camp boat dock and rope swing. Local beta…Live music on the lawn occurs every Sunday evening. Hop on the board and take in the tunes.
County Line to the Sawtooth Hatchery
This views on this section of river are World Class! Sandwiched between the White Clouds to the East and the Sawtooths to the West, the views are 360, 24/7. This river section meanders through the Sawtooth Valley with a few small Class II ripples. The most challenging part of this section is the quick corners and shallows. Nothing that a novice cant handle, just keep a heads up. Walking with your SUP occurs. Local beta…springtime is the ticket. the higher flows make this run super smooth, with a fun play wave at Decker Flats.
Buckhorn to Stanley
This section will keep you on your toes with consistent fun, Class II water. Put in just above where hwy 75 crosses the Salmon. Keep a heads up for wood on this section as a few lurking strainers exist. Local beta….the view of the Sawtooths from the Redfish Creek, Salmon River Confluence could be the best vista in the valley!
Town to Mormon Bend
Fun, flat water with a number of hotsprings!. The first 1/3 of this section offers unsurpassed views as you float past lower Stanley and exit the Sawtooth Valley. The river changes from wide & shallow to pocket pools full of trout. Local beta…the lower the water, the better the hotsprings. Options include Boatbox, Meadow Springs and Mormon Bend.
Mormon Bend to Rough Creek
The perfect introduction to SUPn whitewater. Around the first bend is Class II+ pontiac falls. A fun run right down the center. A number of fun class II ripples are topped off by the long, fun and fast Class II Rough Creek Rapid. No worries if you swim here a big sandy beach is the perfect recovery zone. Local beta…make sure and check out Cove hotspring. A fun and small play wave comes out under the bridge at moderate flows.
Rough Creek to Yankee Fork
Not recommend for paddlers without Class IV experience! Shallow, fast and technical rapids.
Yankee Fork to Torrey’s
The famous Stanley Day Stretch. This fun Class III section is busy with rafters and kayaks during the summer for good reason. 10 miles of fun Class II water with two standout Class III rapids. Piece of Cake and the Narrows. You can scout everything from the highway, highly recommended! Local beta…The higher the water, the better the surf and play. 5ft on the guage is big, fun and powerful. 1ft to 3 ft is perfect for a wide range of skill levels. Take out at Kayaker Takeout for your best bang for your buck
$50/day gets you a paddle, SUP board, PFD and helmet. Discount for multiple days. Pick Up/Drop off service available.
Call Johnny and explore the possibilities! (866)774-4644
Wow, it is hard to believe we will be kicking off SAC’s 15th summer on the Salmon River. Time moves awfully fast these days, but one thing remains the same. The beauty of Stanley, the Sawtooth Mountains and the Salmon River of No Return is world class, unmatched, and good for the soul. Do your inner self a favor and press refresh with a visit to this amazing corner of the world!