Stanley, Idaho is a fantastic winter destination surrounded by almost every type of winter adventure you can imagine. We draw adventurous winter spirits from all over the world for access to unparalleled powder, scenery, solitude, and mountain culture – and we’re super proud of that reputation. Many people overlook the Sawtooth Valley during winter due to its extreme temperatures or the icy drive, but if you’re not willing to make the trip, you’re missing an incredible array of phenomenal winter excitement in a community of excellent people who have a passion for this extraordinary place. Check out this list of just a few of the awesome activities that draw people to Stanley each winter…
First and foremost, here are a few area maps that may be helpful:
Stanley Basin / Sawtooth Valley Map
Banner Summit – Lowman to Valley Creek Map
Snowmobiling is the fastest moving way to experience the Sawtooth scenery during the winter months and there are tons of untouched powder and pristine spaces for you to crank the throttle in. And on top of it all, you’re unlikely to see another person throughout your entire ride! One of the most popular routes is to travel from Smiley Creek (south of Stanley) all the way to Redfish Lake then on to Stanley for lunch at the Mountain Village. If you need to rent a snow machine, Sawtooth Traxx can take care of your needs. If you’d prefer a guided trip, you can check out the trip available directly from Smiley Creek Lodge.
Backcountry Skiing is one extreme way to soak in the adventure of the Sawtooths. While it takes a great deal of effort to climb through the deep snow and into the mountains, it’s super worthwhile in the form of epic, untouched powder runs and some of the most extreme ski lines available in Idaho. This activity is a true test of your skill and survival instinct in some of the most beautiful, but unforgiving terrain in the United States. The best way to experience this adventure is through the Backcountry Yurt system operated by Sun Valley Trekking and Sawtooth Mountain Guides, so be sure to check them out prior to any winter adventure into the Sawtooths.
Cross Country Skiing
With miles of groomed trails at multiple locations, it’s no wonder that cross country skiing is an absolute favorite winter activity for area residents and visitors alike. There are lots of trails in a variety of difficulties that suit all skill levels. From the extensive trail system at Alturas Lake to the host of trail options at Park Creek and all the hard packed ski paths in between, you’re likely to find at least one or two adventurous cross country skiers parked in one of the lots near these areas – but don’t be surprised if you don’t actually see a person in the silence and solitude along the trail. Find trail maps an info here.
Similarly to cross country skiing, snowshoeing is available in a many areas around Stanley. From groomed winter trails to the untouched powder found near many backcountry roads and trails, your snowshoeing adventures depend only upon your skill level and desire to explore. Popular destinations include Redfish Lake, Petit Lake, and Alturas Lake – but there are lots of options for the truly adventurous. We suggest starting with some of the established trail systems and exploring from there.
Winter brings about a dedication in the local community that revolves around daily excursions to the local ice rink for pick-up hockey games. Skill is no matter in these friendly matches in which score is rarely kept, so as long as you respect the ice and the people you’re playing with you’re likley a welcome addition to any game. Hockey is also a feature event of the Annual Winterfest, so grab your skates and join in on the fun at what is likely the most scenic ice rink in the entire United States.
Other Winter Activities
Ice Climbing – Over the last several years, a few dedicated souls have found high-risk excitement in climbing the frozen ice walls that grow on the mountain faces during winter. This activity requires long and difficult effort to access, making it approachable to very few.
Image Courtesy of Idaho Statesman
Curling – With the ice rink located above town, curling has become a feature activity of the Outdoor Bonspiel event each winter. In its simple form, teams compete in sliding large stone pieces toward a scoring circle at the opposite end of the playing surface. Check it out at the Sawtooth Outdoor Bonspiel 2017!
Dog Sledding – Dog sledding is an age-old method of transportation and communication in the northwest. Hitching up a team of dogs to a sled results in a fast-moving means for traveling over snow, and this activity is celebrated in Stanley. Check it out at the Stanley Sled Dog Rendezvous
Interested in visiting for some fun? We’ve got warm beds, hot food, and everything else you’ll need. Plus we’ve got several newly renovated suites and rooms at excellent winter rates, so check our availability and start planning your trip today.