With a year-round population of just 63, tiny Stanley has an out-sized reputation. Geographically, it’s in the center of Idaho, and it serves as a jumping-off point for adventures in the Sawtooth Mountains, which form one of the state’s most emblematic landscapes.
Juergen and I made a relatively sizable addition to Stanley’s population for two days. As you might expect, there’s not too much to the town: a couple restaurants (the Kasino Klub is especially good), a nice bakery for breakfast in the morning, a couple dusty roads, a couple of hotels (including the Riverside Motel, where we stayed)… and that’s it. This is a real frontier town, which would have died out long ago were it not for its prime location at the foothills of the Sawtooths, and the proximity of beautiful Redfish Lake.
Six miles south of Stanley, Redfish Lake is named for the Sockeye Salmon which used to congregate here every year. The lake is rather narrow and small, with just eleven miles of shoreline, but boasts an unforgettable backdrop in the Sawtooths. Especially impressive is the view of Mount Heyburn — this craggy mountain towers over the lake, reaching a height of over 10,000 feet.
We were visiting after the main season had closed, and most of the facilities around the lake were closed, including the resort. But driving around was a fine consolation. The water was clear and still, and with no people around, incredibly peaceful.