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Stanley vacation rentals
Your guide to Stanley
Welcome to Stanley
There isn’t a lot to keep you busy in Stanley itself — its speck of a downtown spans only a few sparse blocks of restaurants and shops, and the town is home to fewer than 100 year-round residents. It's the wilderness all around that draws adventurers here. Set in the Sawtooth Valley, where craggy peaks define the skyline, Stanley has an outsized reputation for outdoor recreation, with easy access to the sprawling Sawtooth National Forest. Alpine lakes for paddling, mountains to climb, trails for biking and hiking, and legendary stretches of whitewater on the Salmon River all draw free spirits to central Idaho’s backcountry. In the height of summer, Stanley hosts street dances and small festivals featuring country and Americana musicians. Come winter, much of the town hunkers down for the seemingly endless supply of snow, when Stanley turns into a playground for a lucky few snowmobilers, Nordic skiers, and snowshoers.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Stanley?
Late spring through summer sees this sleepy town transform into a busy basecamp for backpackers, rafting outfitters, and backcountry guides, with outdoor recreationists taking advantage of the long, warm days. Rafting season typically kicks off in May. Local festivals and open-air concerts fill the calendar through Labor Day. If you’re a hiker, fall is a great time to book one of the area’s cabin rentals, as the season ushers in cooler temperatures and fewer crowds on the trails. During winter, few travelers venture into the cold and ice, though for lovers of snowmobiles and skis, it’s worth the trek.
What are the top things to do in Stanley?
Sawtooth Scenic Byway
Three designated scenic byways converge on the town of Stanley, giving road-trippers hours of scenic drives in each direction. At 116 miles (186 km), the Sawtooth Scenic Byway is the shortest, but it packs a lot of scenery in a route that passes from the city of Shoshone through the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and into the Sawtooth Valley. Along the way, you’ll take in views of river canyons, lakes, and the shimmering peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
Stanley sits on the banks of one of Idaho’s most iconic rivers for rafting. Snowmelt from the towering mountains runs into the headwaters of the Salmon River, where many local outfitters lead rafting tours. Many of the popular whitewater day trips offered in the Stanley area focus on segments of the river suitable for families and inexperienced rafters. Some stretches are also fun for kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders.
Just south of Stanley, you’ll find the largest alpine lake in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Ringed by evergreen forests and blessed with views of mountains in the distance, Redfish Lake is a scenic spot for hiking, and a number of trails start here. Summer is the high season for boating, kayaking, windsurfing, and fishing. The day-access beach also draws families, sunbathers, and picnickers. The lake freezes over in winter, when unploughed roads make the area inaccessible except to cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and people experienced in the backcountry.