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Pioneerism, Wildness and Untouched Nature

Not just a pit stop, but a destination for music, food, and nightlife at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains

Article by Dani Hansen

Photography by @stanley_id + Adam Gulick + Provided

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

Idaho is well known for outdoor recreation and miles of wilderness. There are many locales to choose from, but the humble city of Stanley, home to just 69 people, is at the top of the list when it comes to authentic Idaho experiences. Stanley is the perfect gateway to top-notch exploration and breathtaking scenery. Centrally located amongst the Sawtooth, White Cloud, and Lost River Mountain Ranges, Stanley may be the most convenient destination for rural adventure-seekers. 

If you are a resident of Idaho and have an interest in outdoor recreation, you've likely heard of Stanley, but this small town is so much more than a hike in the woods. The jagged Sawtooth Mountains are a sight to behold, and the community that sits at the base is equally as unique. Stanley has an authentic, rustic aesthetic that makes visitors feel as if they are in a different world. It’s not quite the “old west” that some may expect, but the sense of pioneerism and wildness in untouched nature definitely brings people back. 

No matter your skill level or stage in life, Stanley is the perfect base for an Idaho adventure. Whether you are hiking to an alpine lake or enjoying a glass of wine at a local restaurant, there is always a view to soak in. Even looking up provides a spectacular show. As a part of the Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, the stars shine bright. You can even see the Milky Way. 

Choose your accommodations from many options: stay in a hotel, rent a cabin or a camper van, or pitch a tent on public land - just remember recreate responsibly when taking advantage of public lands. The Stanley-Sawtooth Chamber of Commerce is a great resource for the area and can provide tips about visiting the Sawtooth Valley.

From Thursday Night Street Dances and touring bands, to the Car-B-Q and the Sawtooth Festival for Arts, Crafts, and Food; there are more than 90 events taking place in Stanley this summer. Fun for the whole family! 

Whether you want to scale a mountain, marvel at the sight of the Sawtooth Mountains, bask in the glow of the brightest stars in the west or enjoy a meal at a local restaurant, at just three hours from the Treasure Valley, it's the perfect road trip. Firework photo by Adam Gulick Photography.

  • Snake Pit Hot Springs
  • Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve
  • Redfish Lake Lodge
  • Mountain Village Resort
  • Stanley Baking Co.
  • July 4th celebration. Photo: Adam Gulick Photography
  • July 4th celebration
  • July 16 & 17, The Sawtooth Festival for Arts, Crafts and Food