Winter Adventure ft. Stanley and Sun Valley, ID

Shortly after we moved to Idaho, we discovered some of our favorite spots in Idaho that made our adventurous hearts beat so fast! We took some of friends to these spots recently and I figured I would take you along for the ride, in case you are looking for an epic adventure filled with hot springs and epic mountain views & adventure! We started our trip in Boise and did a big loop through Lowman, Stanley, Ketchum, Sun Valley and back to Boise! It's such a good way to see so much and experience the incredible Sawtooth Mountain Range.

Stop #1: Kirkham Hot Springs

Kirkham Hot Springs is a popular destination for local Idahoans and visitors. Since it's a little less than a two hour drive from Boise, many people take a day trip North to soak for a couple hours and then head home. It's busiest on the weekends in the fall. We went on a Tuesday in February and we were the only people there, which has never happened before for us! A rock staircase leads you to several soaking pools so even if there are other people there, you should be able to find your own soaking pool to enjoy.

How to get there: From Boise, head North on ID-55 for about 40 miles, then turn right to go West on Hwy 17. Follow it to Lowman. Kirkham Hot Springs is right off the road. During May - September, the campground is open so you can park in the parking lot for a small fee ($5). In the winter, when the campground and gate is closed, you can park in the small area right off the road and walk across the bridge to the hot springs.

Pro Tips:

  • Wear chacos or some kind of waterproof sandals/shoes. They will give you some traction when climbing over the slippery rocks and protect your feet too!

  • Bring a large beach bag or dry bag to throw your clothes and belongings in once you get to your chosen soaking pool. We walk down with clothes on (because it's usually cold when we go) and then throw everything in a big bag and place it on a nearby rock!

  • Always pack out your garbage and leave it better than you found it.

  • You can camp at Kirkham Campground May - September

Stop #2: Stanley, Idaho

About an hour Northeast of Kirkham Hot Springs, you will hit Stanley, ID -- my favorite mountain town of 63 locals. This is a popular destination for people in the Summer because of Redfish Lake and Stanley Lake, but in early October most businesses in Stanley close down for the season. Fall and Winter are much more quiet, which I love!

Where to Stay in Stanley, ID:

Redfish RiverSide Inn - the Salmon River flows right outside your window, which is so peaceful! Even though it was winter when we stayed there, I opened up our door as much as possible to hear the river flowing and also sat out on the deck soaking in the views. The deck is a perfect spot to enjoy your hot coffee in the morning (my favorite thing)!

Mountain Village Motel - this is where we usually stay because you get free access to their private hot spring. Soaking times are by reservation so we usually sign up for the earliest time slot (7:00am) when we check in so we can watch the sunrise and I can drink my morning coffee while we soak. It's pretty much the dreamiest experience ever! The hot spring seats up to 8 people so it's possible that you will have some friends soaking in there with you, but we've found that the earlier you go, the less likely it is that other people will be there too! If you don't stay at the motel, you can enjoy their hot springs for a fee. It's $25 for a group of up to 5 people if I remember correctly. Definitely worth it for the amazing views and experience! Just remember, if you aren't staying there, you have to come the day of to reserve your spot.

Things to do in Stanley:

Boat Box Hot Spring: this hot spring consists of a wooden tub along the Salmon River. I sometimes refer to it as "the cauldron hot spring"! My favorite time to go is at sunset so you can watch the sun sink down and light up the hill & trees along the river. To get here, head North on Hwy 75 for about 4 miles until you see steam and a small pullout (fits 2-3 cars). The main soaking pool is the big wooden tub, but there are also some smaller soaking pools in the rocks below the tub too!

Snowshoe to Redfish Lake:

During the winter, the road to Redfish Lake is closed, but it's such a beautiful lake so it's worth the 2 mile walk from the road! You honestly don't need snowshoes because the road is flattened out from snowmobilers, but if there's a fresh snowfall, you might want snowshoes. We parked on the pull out right across from the road to Redfish and took to walking! There is a beautiful bridge right on the path and gorgeous views of the Sawtooth Mountains the whole walk!

Dinner at Mountain Village Restaurant:

This is the only restaurant that's open in the Winter so we always end up there for dinner. Their menu is filled with hearty meals that will warm you up after a day of exploring! This last time we got the pulled pork sandwich, fries and some of their soup of the day! For other meals, we bring our own groceries (sandwiches, oatmeal, granola bars, fruit, snacks, etc.) and stop at the small grocery store right across from the restaurant for anything we forgot!

Stop #3: Miner's Yurt in Ketchum, ID

After one night in Stanley, we headed South on Hwy 75 towards the next little mountain town of Ketchum. The drive is absolutely beautiful and only takes about an hour! We had the Miner's Yurt reserved for the night so we checked in at Galena Lodge and then started our short 1.5 mile hike up to the yurt. There are a few other yurts available to rent too! They are usually booked out pretty far out so check your dates and reserve online in advance.

You also have the option to cross country ski to your yurt if the trail allows. Just make sure to get a BCRD trail pass for $18 at the lodge.

What to bring:

  • warm clothes

  • sleeping bag & pillow

  • flashlight / headlamp

  • personal items

  • snacks and meals that can be cooked with a propane stove or wood stove

  • water

There is more important info and an FAQ on their website.

The yurt was absolutely dreamy! I totally forgot to take pictures of the inside, but it was equipped with bunk beds, pots, pans, games, books; everything you need for a cozy stay. The wood stove kept things nice and toasty all night! I can't think of many things that are cozier than falling asleep to the crackle of a fire. Oh, and the stars were INCREDIBLE!!

The next day, we hiked back down to Galena Lodge and had a warm breakfast before heading on to our next adventure!

Stop #4: Sun Valley Ski Resort

Our last stop before heading back to Boise was Sun Valley, the famous ski town! It's a very cute, quaint mountain town with zero chain restaurants (except for one Starbucks). We weren't planning on skiing this trip, but we still wanted to see the epic views at the top so we took the lift up (there's a cheaper lift ticket if you are going up just to eat at the restaurant or see the views). You feel like you're on top of the world when you're up at the top!

We grabbed some pizza in town and walked around to the little stores before heading back to Boise. Be sure to check out the thrift stores! I always find the best second hand treasures in mountain towns like this one.

Annnnd that's wrap! All of my favorite spots in central Idaho in one trip! It was an action packed 3 days, but that's how we do it! You could totally make this a longer trip and spend multiple days in each spot, if you have the time.

I hope this was helpful! Stay well and wander, my friend!