The Sawtooth Mountains are a world-renowned mountain range best known for summer hikes to alpine lakes and rugged peaks, and like many mountain towns in the U.S., the visitors abandon Stanley, Idaho when the winter winds begin to blow. But if you’re reading here at Outdoor Project, winter may be when you decide to tune in.
It’s true, Stanley does quiet down during the winter, but that doesn’t mean the little town at the heart of the Sawtooths is at a want for outdoor adventure. The snow that blankets the mountains is an opportunity to enjoy these peaks and valleys from a different perspective—alpine lakes frozen over for the intrepid snowshoer to find under snowcapped peaks whose slopes and couloirs are measured for powder in inches per person.
Rent a room at the Mountain Village Resort, Redfish Lake Lodge, or at one of Stanley’s log cabin lodgings, and suit up for one of these backcountry adventures.
Williams Peak Hut: Booked a year in advance, but arguably the most prime backcountry skiing in the Sawtooths.
Fishhook Yurt: 3.9-mile skin up avalanche-proof and mellow Redfish Lake Road.
Pioneer Yurt: A remote and hidden yurt below Hyndman Peak with a tow-in option.
Alturas Lake: south of Stanley along Highway 75, the ski area features nearly 10 miles of groomed cross-country trails
Park Creek: north of Stanley, Park Creek also features more than 5 miles of groomed trails
When the winter comes, the trails in the Sawtooths earn a winter coat and beckon the snowshoer to climb into the mountains. While not built with the snowshoer in mind, these trails should be able to provide the kind of terrain suitable for snowshoes.
Fishhook Creek: A short and level snowshoe to a meadow overlooked by the spectacular Hortsman Peak.
Hyndman Creek + Hyndman Basin Hike: Connects to the Pioneer Yurt, base of operations for backcountry skiing in the area.
Redfish Lake Canyon: Redfish Lake freezes over in the winter, and Redfish Lake Canyon promises spectacular mountain vistas. Plus, the roads aren't plowed, meaning snowshoers get extra miles to hike in.
Bench Lakes: Offers the Bench Lakes Yurt in winter, which are rentable and operated by Sun Valley Trekking.
Sunbeam Hot Springs: The most popular of a string of hot springs along Highway 75.