Many of you have been to the Sawtooth Valley and many of you have not, and this is how I feel every time I come back: I know every cabin, twist and turn in the road, every creek, and every meadow. Yet each time I come back it holds something new for me. Something the long winter has unraveled and exposed – something new nature has formed in the last 8 months, or new businesses or houses in the valley.
Then there are the all too familiar landmarks, the little wooden signs that say “Galena Summit.” I image some old wood worker made this sign because a regular sign just didn’t do the Summit justice. The old dance hall and hunting lodge at Smiley Creek. It barley stands these days, weathered by 100 years of harsh Idaho winters. The turn to Redfish Lake Lodge and when you get to the end of the road you know it will be the most magnificent view. The list goes on… I thought it only fair that I share my classic iconic Stanley landmarks along with the new things I have discovered along the drive with a little synopsis of what they mean to me.
1. Galena Summit
At 8,701 the view never gets old. From the top you can see the Boulder Mountains, the Salmon River Basin and the Sawtooth Mountains, an epic sightseeing spot.
2. Smiley Creek Lodge
Tons of history, good food, friends, and great milkshakes to boot.
3. Blaine County line
An iconic symbol that you are home in the Sawtooth Valley and once you’re in Custer County, say goodbye to stoplights because there is not a single one in the entire county.
3. Rocky Mountain Ranch
I have great memories of Muzzy Braun playing “Homegrown Tomatoes” on the front porch of the ranch. A wonderful place for a romantic outing or just to get away.
4. Sawtooth Fish Hatchery
The hatchery supplies the valley with salmon, steelhead and trout. They have very interesting and informative tours and it’s a very educational place to take the kids.
5. Redfish Lake Lodge
What can I say? If you haven’t been to the lodge, well what are you waiting for?
6. The Salmon River
The life blood of the Sawtooth Mountains, the Salmon River carves a pass to the ocean. The longest un-dammed river in North America and simply unbelievable.
1. Galena Look Out
This has actually been here for a few years but it’s the first time I have stopped here, so it’s new to me. Take the time to check it out. It’s a great stop to stretch your legs and you will absolute enjoy the view of the valley. If you squint you can see Stanley way off in the distance.
2. Little Redfish Fire
Definitely new – a reminder and testament to how close we live to nature in the Sawtooth Valley. When you visit the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery you will see the fire, it ends at their doorsteps.
3. The Stanley Town Square
Every year there is a new restaurant, coffee shop, or retail store in Stanley. When I see a new business here it always reminds me how we all want to live, work, and play here. It’s a beautiful building and has great potential for the Stanley Community.
4. The Sluice Restaurant
Remember the new restaurant I was talking about? Here is one, give it a try!
5. The Salmon River
Even though it’s steady as a rock, it looks different every year. Fire, wind, ice, and erosion shape and change the Salmon River. Trees, mud, rocks all influence and give the river a new look each year. There are several new boulders to be stamped, rapids to be named, and trees to avoid. Speaking of trees – there is one in Shot Gun Rapid, please be aware.
I hope you enjoy your drives into the valley as much as I do and discover something new along the way. Idaho is truly a special place, every change, every year. If you have questions about the trips we offer or just need advice about the Stanley area, please feel free to browse our site or call us at 1-800-571-7238.
See you on the water,
White Cloud Rafting