Sawtooth Mountains

As you may recall from last year, Utah has a second holiday in July – Pioneer Day. This year it fell on a Monday and gave me a free three-day weekend. So, we decided to head north to Idaho and camp in the Sawtooth Mountains. We were introduced to the Sawtooth range last summer when we visited Ketchum and camped in the Sawtooth National Forest. But this year, I wanted to camp farther from Ketchum at Redfish Lake. Unfortunately, Redfish Lake is incredibly popular, so by the time I decided it would be our camping destination, all of the sites which can be reserved were booked through September. Okay, I thought, no big deal. We’ll just try our luck at the first come, first serve sites. I did my research and there were several smaller campgrounds we could try out. I was overly optimistic.

We left Salt Lake a little before 6am on Saturday morning and by the time we arrived at Redfish Lake everything was full, even the campground across the highway, Sunny Gulch, was already filled to capacity. We’d made decent time, only stopping briefly in Hailey for coffee, but Redfish Lake is just that popular. Lesson learned. Next year, I’ll get a reservation as soon as they become available.

Though we were slightly disappointed, we’d also kind of expected it. So we continued down the road past Stanley, to see what was available along the Salmon River. Just past Lower Stanley, we found a nice spot nestled in tall pines at the Salmon River Campground. The campground is split by the highway and we preferred the open site on the side away from the river. Not as scenic, but better shaded with a nice spot for our hammock. We set up and hung out, whiling away the early afternoon, before going for a drive along the Hwy. 93, another section of the same scenic highway we drove last year from Challis to Salmon.


Driving Hwy. 93 along the Salmon River

Of course, this section of Hwy. 93 is just as spectacular. Along the way we stopped at a couple pull-outs for Zach to practice trumpet, to look at Sunbeam Hot Springs, and to read about the history of the area. Rather than go all the way to Challis, we ended our drive at Sunbeam Village, a nice area above the confluence of the Salmon River and Yankee Fork. There we sat at a picnic table under the trees at the Sunbeam Grill and had maybe the best waffle fries we’ve ever had, coupled with hands–down, the best fry sauce either of us have ever had. Wow.

We think this is a remnant of one of the bathhouses built by the CCC in 1937 for Sunbeam Hot Springs.

Sunbeam Hot Springs down at the river’s edge

On the right, a remaining segment of the Sunbeam Dam, the only dam ever built on the Salmon River. Part of it was blown up in the early 30s to allow salmon migration up the river.

Sunbeam Grill

Their nice patio and expansive lawn with picnic tables

Best waffles fries of all time?

Keeping an eye on the birds

After our snack, we drove back to our campsite, made veggie quesadillas, walked down to the river, and settled in for the night. On our agenda the following day was a 10 mile hike to Sawtooth Lake which I’ve written about here. After our hike we drove over to Redfish Lake Lodge where they had music on their front lawn from 5-7pm. We spread out our beach towels, got beers and food from their Lakeside Grill, and enjoyed the evening. I hadn’t been that excited about going, but it ended up being incredibly relaxing. Truman was worn out from the hike so he was relaxed and didn’t seem to mind all the running children or various wandering dogs, and the entire atmosphere was really relaxed and inviting. It was a nice way to wind down after such a long day.

Salmon River

Truman walked in the river, discovered it was cold, and got on this log to get out.

Chillin’ on the lawn of Redfish Lake Lodge

A good sport

Hanging out

We gotta practice our selfie skills

Our last morning, we got up and packed up our site because we wanted to have breakfast at Stanley Baking Company. Though they do not allow dogs on their patio, the temperature in the morning was cool enough that we could leave Truman in the car for a nap. Stanley Baking Company always has a line, but we seemed to time it well and waited from the door rather than down the long ramp. Everything on their menu sounded incredible so we decided to get two dishes to share – the Basque Scramble and a half order of the biscuits and gravy. I caved and got a blackberry scone to save for the car ride. (It ended up being incredible.)

Pastry case

We weren’t in much of a hurry to get back to Salt Lake so we stopped in Hailey for a while. We did a tasting at Sun Valley Brewery and filled up our growler. Down the street from the brewery was the new location of Iconoclast Books so we dropped in there too. Then, sadly, it really was time to hit the road and return to our lives.


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