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Idaho is one of the last stands of pristine, untainted wilderness, a perfect retreat for those seeking wide open spaces and outdoor recreation. Stanley, Idaho, settled at the foot of the Sawtooth mountains, is an outdoor playground for adventure lovers, and kayaking opportunities abound. Here are some of the best places to kayak near Stanley:

Stanley Lake

Situated about 7 miles from town, Stanley Lake offers picturesque mountain views as you glide along its mile-long coastlines. A small boat and fishing ramp is available to make launching your kayak easier. The lake is stocked with several varieties of trout, and since the lake is reserved only for hand-powered boats and SUPs, it’s one of the most serene and undisturbed options in the area. There is also a small campground and a little, sandy beach next to the lake if you’re inclined to extend your stay. Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera!

Redfish Lake / Little Redfish Lake

Redfish and Little Redfish are two alpine lakes located about five miles south of Stanley. During wetter times, the two lakes are connected by Redfish Lake Creek. Redfish Lake is a large, very popular lake with a number of amenities. Kayaks are available for rent, along with other types of personal or family watercraft, at the Redfish Lake Marina. Redfish is long and narrow, about four by ¾ miles, more than enough to keep a kayaker busy. There is a nice lodge on the lake too, with occasional live music and plenty of activities.
Little Redfish is the remote sister lake, just north of the big one. When the water is high enough, this is the place to go for alone time on the water or some quiet kayak fishing.

Conveniently located at Redfish Lake is Triangle C Cabins to accommodate you after a long day of kayaking. They have everything you could need when you’re away from home including a general store and their very own restaurant, Limbert’s.

Alturas Lake

Alturas is a little further than the other lakes, about 21 miles south of Stanley on highway 75, but well worth the trek. Two miles of crystal waters surrounded by beautiful alpine forest make for kayaking Heaven. The lake boasts a larger sandy beach than most, and there is a nice campground in the woods near the lake. The lake is situated within the Sawtooth recreation area, and there is a day use fee for parking and using the lake.

The Salmon River

Kayakers who want a little more excitement can try the Salmon River. Locally known as the River of No Return (don’t let that scare you off), the Salmon extends through several hundred miles of stunning wilderness. The current varies from mild to whitewater, and you can spend a day or even two weeks on a river journey. River kayaking can be pretty technical, so you may want to use a professional guide. Adventure Sun Valley is one of several outfits in the area that offer guided river kayaking tours for every skill level.

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