After traveling deep into the Sawtooth Mountains, it’s time to turn around and head back to civilization when you reach Stanley, Idaho. There aren’t too many businesses here, just enough to provide you with food, gas, and a room for the night, if you’re too tired to push on to Boise.
Stanley, Idaho is at the intersection of Idaho Rtes. 21 and 75. Stanley Lake is about 8 miles away from town (4 miles on Rte. 21, then 4 more on a backroad).
During your final few miles on Rte. 75, you’ll be driving along the Salmon River, and on the other side, several miles of split-rail fence. With the jagged mountain peaks in the background, it couldn’t be more scenic.
Once you reach Stanley, hang a left onto Rte. 21. In the blink of an eye, you’ll pass the town’s few services. Consider stopping at the grocery store — they had plenty of souvenirs and a pot of chili simmering in the bakery.
Stanley Lake is, of course, simply beautiful. A little sunlight would have helped, though.
(That’s Mt. McGowen in the background.)
Note: This trip was first published in 2006. Much of the same area was covered in the Big Sky trip in 2014.