Stanley - Idaho

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Stanley & the Sawtooths

The clean, rarified air of Stanley (elevation 6,200 feet) is matched by the great beauty of the White Cloud Peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains which rise another 4,500 feet above the town. Stanley is the most rustic and pioneer-flavored of any of the towns in the Rockies region, and is situated in the middle of the Stanley Basin -- what Montanans would call a "hole". It's part of the valley of the Salmon River. With the Sawtooth National Recreation Area only a few minutes away and fabulous fishing at Stanley's doorstep, this is a town to remember.

Three national forests surround the town (Boise, Challis and Sawtooth). The camping and hiking possibilities are immense.

The basin is named for Captain John Stanley, a prospector and Civil War survivor who happened on the area on July 4, 1863, while leading a party of 75 prospectors to find new gold fields. They passed through the basin on their way to Idaho City. Stanley didn't return but one of the party, A.P. Challis, did and mined around Stanley for many summers. A permanent settlement was established in the 1890s.

Today, the town is comprised of two settlements: Upper and Lower Stanley. They are headquarters for float trip operators who take rafters down the Salmon River. The rustic cabin motels play host to hundreds of visitors who fish for salmon, trout and steelhead and -- in winter -- come to snowmobile & ski cross country in the nearby recreation areas and national forests.

 What to See & Do

West of Stanley is Idaho's recently-developed state park, Land of the Yankee Fork. There are two prime attractions here, besides the camping and fishing: The Yankee Fork Gold Dredge (near the village of Sunbeam) is a symbol of the gold rush of the 1870s when prospectors came to pan gold from the fork. Later, the dredge was built on the fork by the Snake River Mining Company. From 1940 until 1951 it floated on its own shifting pond, sifting gold out of the valley gravel. Custer and Bonanza were the two gold camps established during the 1870s. They are now ghost towns, on display in the state park which has its headquarters and information center in the town of Challis, 55 miles west of Salmon.

The fascinating backroad route will take you through the historic area from Sunbeam on Highway 75, coming out at Challis. There is an historical museum in Custer which tells the story of the gold era. The Stanley Museum focuses on the pioneer history of the town and the Stanley Basin. There are several accessible lakes close to Stanley. Little Redfish and Redfish lakes are just south of town, in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. There is a visitor center between the two lakes open from June 1st to mid-September. Nip and Tuck Road offers a scenic sidetrip into the Stanley Basin, passing through mountain meadows filled with wildflowers, with great views of the Sawtooth range.

Hotels & Lodges

Creek Side Lodge
(800) 523-0733 or 800-523-0733
Located on Highway 21, beside a trout stream at the western end of Stanley, this is modern motel operation, with rooms looking out to views of the Sawtooths, and balconies overlooking the stream. Picnic tables are located between the lodge and the creek, and you can fish from the property. Rooms have private baths (including showers and tubs), queen beds, color TV, and kitchenettes. In-room coffee is available. Some units are junior suites, with sofas. Rates rise in summer, but overnight costs are reasonable at any time of year.

Gunter's Salmon River Cabins
(208) 774-2290
Log cabins (quite modern) are located beside the Salmon River. The cabins have kitchenettes, fireplaces and TV. Fishing is the focus of this resort operation near Stanley.

Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch
(208) 774-3544
This is a very special place on Highway 75, ten miles south of Stanley. There are 19 rooms in all, four in the lodge and 15 cabin rooms. The summer season runs from June 1 to mid September and two cabins are kept open during winter months. Built as a hunting lodge in 1930, the walls are constructed of logs. Continental breakfast is served each morning with gourmet dinners in the evenings (for overnight guests only). There's a hot spring pool which just adds to the wonder of the place. Picnic lunches are available and there's a stocked fishing pond. Write: PO. Box 9934, Stanley ID 83278.

Mountain Village Resort
(208) 774-3661
This remodeled rustic resort offers 60 units, plus gas, store and dance hall, in Stanley at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains. The operation is open year-round unlike some of the other operations in and around Stanley, although most are now open year-round. A special feature is the enclosed natural hot spring. Next door to the lodge is a full-service restaurant and lounge, plus a store and gas station.

Sawtooth Hotel
(208) 774-9947
This is Stanley's first and, as far as we know, the only bed and breakfast in town. It's a renovated motel with dining room serving comfort foods such as sourdough pancakes, soup and cobblers. The store has regional and western books.

Triangle C Ranch Log Cabins
(208) 774-2266 or 800-303-6258
With scenic views of the Sawtooth Mountains, this operation offers deluxe log cabins, decorated in western motif. The cabins have queen beds and full baths. It's located at the west end of Stanley.

Valley Creek Motel & RV Park
(208) 774-3606
Built in 1995, this modern motel offers large rooms with queen beds and kitchenettes, with decks front and back. The operation also has a 3-bedroom, five-bed basement house with full kitchen.

Stanley Camping

Sunbeam Village and RV Park
(208) 838-2211
There are RV spaces here with full hookups, dump station, and propane. It's located west of town, near the Yankee Fork Dredge. There are also several rooms and cabins -- with kitchens available.

Torrey's Burnt Creek Inn
(208) 838-2313 or 800-838-2313
Torrey's has RV hookups, along with log cabins by the riverside. The cabins are equipped with kitchenettes.

With the three national forests converging in the Stanley area, there is a wide choice of forest campgrounds available, and some are not far from town.

Online Info

For more information on Stanley, including outdoor attractions,
and places to st and eat, go to the home page of
the Stanley-Sawtooth Chamber of Commerce,
or send an E-mail message to the Chamber


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