Day Tripping in Idaho

Throughout the months of May and June, Al and I took full advantage of our days off from our work camping gig to explore parts of Idaho via a series of day trips.  The Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho are a sight to behold with their jagged and impressive mountain peaks, and just like so many other beautiful places we visit, photographs don’t always do justice to the majestic beauty laid before our eyes.

Exploring the back roads in central Idaho

Exploring the back roads in central Idaho

We found Central Idaho to be a visual treat and an RVer’s delight with a ton of raw wilderness just ready to discover.  Finding a place to dry camp in remote national forest does not seem to be a problem around here.

Looking toward the quaint town of Stanley, Idaho

Looking toward the quaint town of Stanley, Idaho

Sun Vally

Shopping – loved the European feel

One of my favorite day trips was a loop drive that took us about ten hours to complete.  We started at our home base in Arco, Idaho, and our first stop was the popular mountain town of Ketchum, also known as Sun Valley.

To get to Ketchum we had to drive through Hailey, Idaho, which I was particularly curious about.  Now mind you, I’m not one to get all caught up or go gaga over Hollywood celebrities, but I do have a curiosity about the lives they lead behind the scenes.

Back in the 1990’s when Demi Moore and Bruce Willis started growing their family, they moved to Hailey to escape the Hollywood scene and helped rebuild this struggling little town.  “Why Hailey”, I questioned?  What made this little town so desirable to a couple who financially could afford to live anywhere.  After driving around the town of Hailey …. up one street, down the other on more than one occasion, I don’t have an answer.  Although cute, it certainly wouldn’t be my first choice if money were no object.

Maybe its more about Sun Valley.

Sun Valley Idaho

Sun Valley is a popular winter destination with its challenging ski slopes and European Nordic feel.  However, Sun Valley Idahomoderate weather, wonderful biking and hiking trails, and an eclectic variety of dining options, makes Sun Valley equally popular during the summer months.

Expensive second homes dot the landscape.  The elegant mountain style architecture blends in beautifully with the terrain of rolling, flowersgrassy hills.

Wildflowers speckle the hillsides with color while gardens filled with flowers adorn well manicured yards.  I loved the abundance of flowers seen in all directions.

Although I found the area to be charming, I somehow felt disappointed.  After visiting so many mountain resort towns in Colorado, perhaps I was expecting an unrealistic wow factor.   Various places resonate differently with each of us and just because I wasn’t feeling it, doesn’t diminish its allure or beauty.

Sawtooth MountainsThe mountains around Sun Valley are unimposing, but from what I hear, are steep and challenging for skiing enthusiasts.  Our time in Sun Valley was brief and we didn’t get a chance to hit the trails to really delve into the lay of the land as much as we would’ve liked.

While strolling the streets of Ketchum, we found folks to be particularly friendly and helpful.  And unlike the mountain towns in Colorado, Sun Valley was not crowded.  Let’s face it, it does take some considerable effort to get to this part of the country.The Kneadery

I must share …. we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at The Kneadery  located in downtown Ketchum.  I’m all about décor and atmosphere along with fresh wholesome ingredients and The Kneadery hit the spot perfectly; cute place, a tasty meal, at a reasonable price – highly recommend.Sawtooth MountainsWith tummies full, it was time for us to meander north.  As the road twisted and turned, it wasn’t long before we were greeted by those craggy, snow speckled Sawtooth Mountains.  What a stunning mountain range!  We passed numerous places to dry camp, and as much as we wanted to stop and check out the possibilities, I was on a mission to get to our next stop.Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake ….  Wow!  Thanks Donna and Char for insisting I visit this place.  I haven’t seen such turquoise and pristine waters since I last visited the Caribbean. Redfish Lake

I could’ve sat at that beach for hours admiring the view.  I may not have been feeling it in Sun Valley, but I sure as heck was feeling it at Redfish Lake. The beauty of our surroundings had Al and me feeling somewhat nostalgic  as memories of our Caribbean trips were conjured up.  Then there are the memories of us paddling our canoe in northern Minnesota or taking our kids out on our fishing boat in southern Utah.  Yep, we’re lake people and a beautiful body of water always brings a smile to our faces.Redfish Lake

Al and I grabbed a snack and a drink from the cooler and found a spot to sit.  We initially sat in silence as we watched the kayakers and stand up paddle boarders paddle by.  Sigh!  Oh how I longed to be out on that water.  Al and I reminisced about our boating days and although there are many aspects about those days that I miss,  I somehow felt incredibly content and fortunate to be relaxing on the shore admiring that view.Redfish Lake

We were quite smitten with Redfish Lake and the quaint town of Stanley.  It is breathtakingly, mesmerizingly, beautiful here! It was tough to pull ourselves away, but return home we must ….. though not before checking out the campground for future reference. This area made our “return” list, which I’ll admit, seems to get longer the more we travel.

Thanks Donna and Char. I’m so glad we made it a priority to visit Redfish Lake.  If there’s one place in Idaho I’d say is a ‘must see’, this would be it.

The scenery along the way was every bit as memorable as the stops

The scenery along the way was every bit as memorable as the stops

Now it was time to complete our loop drive with one more exploratory stop before reaching home.

Mackay Reservoir - boondocking along the shores is a consideration

Mackay Reservoir – boondocking along the shores is a consideration

Mackay, Idaho: from a former mining town to a small recreation town …. folks escape the big cities (big for Idaho, that is) to come to Mackay on the weekends to get away and relax.  The water (my personal fav) and back country 4×4 roads are the draw for this rustic and remote area.

colorful mountains around Mackay, Idaho

colorful mountains around Mackay, Idaho

For now, we need to head back to camp, but we’ll visit Mackay in the next post!


All that water we saw has me eyeing one of these inflatables… hmm! Christmas is coming – wink, wink dear hubby 🙂  Perhaps there will be plenty more boating adventures in our future!


63 thoughts on “Day Tripping in Idaho

  1. Pingback: Final thoughts on Idaho | Live Laugh RV

  2. Beautiful pictures! Idaho is truly amazing, from the pictures, because we never went there. We plan to head that way next year, also Vegas and Palm Springs CA.

    • Be sure and reserve a campsite at Redfish Lake – you’ll love it. I know you and Steve will discover lots of hidden gems in this scenic state.

  3. Your photos are gorgeous. I love those mountain captures, WOW! What an interesting loop you drove. (I’m always creating ‘loops’ for us at our stops.) I’m adding Redlake Fish on our list, Ingrid, it’ll definitely make hubby happy being by water. lol We definitely want to explore Idaho next West trip, and you’re posts are going to make creating our destination list there so much easier. Thanks so much! 🙂

  4. The Sawtooth Mountain Range looks truly stunning. I’ll bet it’s the kind of place where it almost doesn’t matter in which direction you point the camera. 🙂

  5. Great post, Ingrid, and wonderful pictures of a gorgeous area. I hope that some day we’ll make it up there, too.
    Have a great weekend,

    • I would’ve loved to do a little boondocking in the Sawtooths and I REALLY wanted to camp at Redfish Lake, but duties had us heading east. Not complaining though considering we boondocked in the Tetons a second time.

  6. I can see why this was a favorite loop…beauty everywhere:) The mountains are spectacular but add in Redfish Lake and you have a WOW:)

    We have the inflatable Sea Eagle Fast Track 385 and are looking to sell it!! We have only used it three times. Kayakers we aren’t we’ve discovered. So we decided it was dumb to just carry it around. If you really want one, keep us in mind:) The new sleeker model moves really well across the water and feels very secure in rougher water. We just didn’t find we were enjoying it.

    • I would return to Idaho specifically to stay at Redfish Lake; that’s how stunning I found it. Al has concerns about buying a kayak for those very concerns of not using it and thus just one more thing to lug around. However…. I may need to bat my eyelashes in his direction a little more. If you’ll be back in AZ this winter, lets talk. If you sell it in the meantime, I understand 🙂

  7. I am glad you made it to the Sawtooths and Redfish Lake. We camped there in 2003 for a week. And, Stanley… It makes me smile knowing you are there enjoying one of our favorite areas.

    • How fantastic that you were able to camp there. Understandable that it’s one of your favorite areas. It is absolutely beautiful 🙂

  8. Ingrid, what a wonderful lake view, thanks for sharing. Also hope to hear about your workamping experience sometime. I’ll have to go back and check earlier in the blog to make sure you have not already covered that.

    We are loving our new Sea Eagles FastTrack 385. Going out for a paddle tomorrow! Really did a lot of research before the purchase and hope to have it for 10 to 20 years.

    • Definitely put Stanley and Redfish Lake on your “must see list”. It won’t disappoint. I haven’t blogged about our workamping experience yet and I’m still undecided if I will…. it’s complicated 😆

  9. Oh my…I’m verklempt! I am so glad you visited Stanley, Idaho and it’s pristine surroundings..The town itself was dirt streets over 25 years ago..and they had Sawtooth Mt. Mama’s Craft Show back then. I’m wondering if you noticed a grass air strip anywhere near town? They used to to fly the hunters, fishermen and back packers out from there into the mountains. Sometimes they had to much beer they could barely get above the mountains for take off!..I’m sure Al would have spotted it..and it likely is gone now…Thanks for taking us back…one of our very favorite spots out West (before we had an RV)..

    • Thank YOU for giving me the heads up on this area. I really wanted to linger around Stanley and explore, but Al’s back was giving him issues. He had injured it work camping 😦 Although there are still plenty of dirt roads in the area, the main ones are paved and many of the older buildings have been improved but kept in their original charm. The stunning beauty and overall quaintness was right up my alley.

  10. Your first photo looks like a photo we took driving towards Superstition Mts. We called it a “Road to No Where.”
    Redfish Lake and the mountains are absolutely breath taking! Awesome photos. Good job, girlfriend.

    • Thank you Marsha. We really are lucky to come across such incredible scenery. I love the Supersititions. We just arrived in Phoenix today. What diversity I’ve experienced this year 🙂

  11. Beautiful shots of the mountains and the lake. I will have to thank you if and when we make it to Redfish Lake one day! The water sure looks like the Caribbean. Aaah, boating memories. 🙂 But, traveling overland is so much easier and comfortable…

    • I do enjoy my time around water but must agree land travel is far easier. Fond memories. You would love Redfish Lake…. definitely put it on your list of places to see!

  12. As much as we love the desert, we realize that we are basically “water” people too! Hard to reconcile the two….. unless your house has wheels!

    So, what did you find out about the campground at Redfish Lake?

    • I would love a little place like yours on a lake but not east of the Mississippi…. I belong in the west. Al’s back was bothering him the day we visited Redfish Lake so we only drove past a few campsites. It’s a mix with many unlevel but we could fit in a bunch. As stunning as it is, I doubt we’ll personally make it back there, but I do recommend it.

  13. Such a gorgeous area Ingrid. All that wide open sky and gorgeous peaks. Love that the locals were so helpful too. You are getting closer to our neck of the woods. 🙂

    • Yes, we were rather north and those daylight hours were long, but Canada eluded our summer travels once again. The landscape was stunning and as much as I longed to explore more, issues had us heading east 🙂

  14. Loved that whole area. Redfish was a fav too, but we also enjoyed Sun Valley,. Being there a month gave us a pretty in-depth feel and I think you’d enjoy the abundant hiking/biking. But yeah Sawtooths are awesome.


    • Your early morning photos of Redfish are stunning. I would’ve loved camping there. Spending a month in an area really allows us the opportunity to explore. I admit, my opinion may be different if we’d had more time staying near Sun Valley instead of doing long day trips.

  15. Wonderful photos as always, Ingrid. I loved the Sawtooths though we didn’t spend any time really in the towns. Boondocking options are super abundant and all pretty amazing for sure.

    • I remember your post on the Sawtooths and it does look like a boondockers/hikers paradise. Unfortunately, we need to stay connected for work and the internet was spotty at best 😦 But what an incredibly scenic area.

  16. I felt the same way about Sun Valley. I was expecting a true mountain town with big mountains all around. Not so much. But, Stanley is fantastic and the Sawtooths are a sight to behold. Idaho is very welcoming to boondockers. We have stayed at the base of the Sawtooth, and also on Mackey river. Both nice.

    • Loved Stanley and Redfish Lake and would return to ID for that local alone, but other parts of ID, not so much. I will say, the state of Idaho overall is very boondocker friendly and we’re glad we spent a couple of months exploring the area.

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