“When in Rome”

I can’t say I have lived in Idaho without summer hiking and camping in the Sawtooth Mountains. This is more of a trip diary rather than a “how to” post, but if you’re interested, this is what I did:

The Big Picture:

To start off our Sawtooth camping trip, you need to hike to the scene: The name of the trailhead is Redfish to Alpine Lake and you can find the All Trails profile here. At this time, I’d like to remind you all to always remember the 7 principles of “Leave No Trace,” which you can find here.

How We Got Here:

Stanley, Idaho, which is the heart of the Sawtooths, is about 110 miles from Boise, which brings it in to a little under 3 hours. We took Idaho Highway 21 the entire way, which is apparently the best way to avoid summer traffic. Once you get to Stanley, you need to park near Redfish Lake Lodge and walk to the lodge.

The Dirty Deats:

In the back of the lodge, there will be a dock where you will need to pay $19 roundtrip to get to the other side of Redfish Lake. Yes, the trailhead starts across the lake, but you kind of get two for one! Redfish is so beautiful.

It’d consider this out and back hike hard, especially if you’re carrying gear like we did. Extremely high reward comes to you after a 2200 elevation gain in 5 miles. The first three miles had very little, so those last two really got us after working, driving and then hiking it on a Friday night. It took us nearly FIVE hours to get this done, but only about 3 hours to get back down. Once we arrived, we set up camp and the views were to die for.


Eventually, we relaxed and that we did. We swam, read, hammock napped, laid out, camp-fired, s’mored and stargazed. It was a really pleasant spot we found.

Going Home:

The hike up afterwards was so much easier than the hike down, but the shuttle times are really important! They offer 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 5pm and 7pm return boat rides. We signed up for the 12pm, but we caught one at 11:30 as they were bringing someone in.

My Recommendations:

Although we camped, this technically could be a day hike. Do I think you’d be able to drive from Boise, take this shuttle, hike up, enjoy the lake, take the shuttle, drive back to boise in one day without being stressed? Not really. If you do this as a day hike, I would recommend camping or staying in Stanley. There’s a huge campsite with bathrooms on the other side of Redfish where the shuttle drops off! If I could do it again, I think we could have stayed one night at the other side of Redfish and one at Alpine. I do love how secluded it was, as we saw only maybe 5 more campsites other than ours! Also: hiking sticks are a must if you’re backpacking out.

All in all, it was such a nice weekend camping in the Sawtooth mountains. Good luck exploring and happy traveling! As always, please let me know if you have any questions.

xoxo alex

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