Stanley, Idaho Travel Guide
The most underrated area of the United States – I’m convinced. We unexpectedly LOVED traveling to Stanley, and would go again in a heat beat. It’s a small town just north east of Boise. With a population of under 200, it’s a quiet town where you get to soak up all that nature has to offer. It’s nestled right next to the Sawtooth Mountains, so the views are always a 10/10. I would consider it Idaho’s hidden gem and definitely flies under the radar for most tourists! With that said, if you’re looking a trip to soak in God’s beautiful creation and unplug for a weekend, this is the perfect place!
We flew into Boise and made the drive to Stanley. On the way there, we stopped through Sun Valley, and on the way back, we went straight to Boise (only about 2 hrs). Two very different drives. Straight from Boise to Stanley is more beautiful IMO, but it is much more windy, so if you tend to get really motion sick, you may want to take the longer way through Sun Valley. Sun Valley was gorgeous, but if we were to do the trip again, I would recommend going straight to Stanley to have more time there!
Where to Stay
There are several options when it comes to lodging in Stanley. But because it is a smaller town and lodging is limited, I recommend booking earlier rather than later. Below are a few options to consider, including where we stayed (listed first). It had the most incredible views (pictured above) and it was the perfect size for 2.
- Stanley Vacation Rentals – this is where we stayed!
- Meadowcreek Tiny House Resort and Spa – would love to try and stay here when we go back!
- Mountain Village Resort
- Redfish Riverside Inn
- Redfish Lake Lodge
- Sawtooth Hotel
- Triangle C Cabins
- Stanley High Country Inn
- There are also campgrounds in the area
Where to Eat
I’ll list out the restaurants we went to below. Everywhere was amazing and locally run and owned. You really get a feel for the town and community, which just makes Stanley that much better!
- Peaks and Perks – This adorable coffee trailer that is a must! They also sell delicious bagel sandwiches as well. Overall the coffee was phenomenal. They have Vegan options for food and DF milk alternatives for lattes.
- Stanley Supper Club – We went here for a cozy dinner. I would say this was one of our nicer meals. Everything was absolutely delicious. You have to get their fresh baked sourdough!
- Pappa Brunee’s – A local pizza place. So yum!
- Stanley Baking Company – A great option for Breakfast/Brunch.
- Mountain Village Resort Restaurant + Saloon – didn’t go here but was recommended
- Sawtooth Hotel Restaurant – didn’t go here but was recommended
- Limbert’s at Redfish Lake Lodge – didn’t go here but was recommended
- Sawtooth Luce’s – didn’t go here but was recommended
- There are also several small bars in town for late night fun!
What to Do
- Hot Springs – these are definitely a must. We had such a blast searching for them and enjoying the relaxing sounds of the river as your soak in Earth’s natural hot tub! For all hot springs, I would expect to share with others, as it’s not likely that you will be alone. The most ideal time to go would be earlier in the morning to try and beat the traffic.
- Boat Box – This one is a man made tub that was propped next to the river. It’s rather small, so you’ll have to wait if someone else is already enjoying it. Worth it – and don’t forget to take a picture!
- Sunbeam Hot Springs – This one is man made with gravel and rocks to trap the hot water. You are literally sitting at river view. Such a cool experience!
- Kirkham Hot Springs – We did not go here but was recommended. We saw these as we drove back to Boise to catch our flight and were so bummed that we didn’t go. It’s under a waterfall and looks so breathtaking!
- Challis Hot Springs – We did not go here but was recommended. Note: you do have to pay for a day pass here.
- Redfish Lake
- There are three places to eat here, Lakeside Grill, The Rustic Lounge, and Limbert’s
- You can rent a boat (HIGHLY RECOMMEND), kayaks, paddle boats, etc. The lake is absolutely beautiful and the water is SO clear. It is a breathtaking spot and a must see while you are in Stanley. You can also just hang out along the lake and enjoy the water and sun. They have beaches that span alongside part of the lake. It’s also extremely kid friendly!
- There is also hiking around this area. Specifically a hike that you boat to and dock. Definitely wish we would have done that!
- Sawtooth Mountains
- Iron Creek Trailhead to Alpine Lake – this is the one hike that we did. It was an 8 mile hike, but so worth it if you’re up for it. It takes you out to Alpine Lake (pictured above) and back.
- There are plenty of other hikes that you can google, too!
What to Bring
Consider this the ultimate adventure trip – so bring all your adventure essentials!
- Chacos/water shoes- these were great to have in the hot springs
- Camelback – if you plan on hiking, you’ll want a small hiking backpack + camelback is a plus!
- Bathing suit
- Hiking boots aren’t a need, but helpful – at least good shoes to hike in if you plan on it.
- Hiking/outdoor clothes
- Sunscreen + Bug Spray
- Water Bottle
- Jacket for the evenings
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