Hot spring at night

The Magic of December in Stanley, Idaho!

As winter ushers in its chill, the town of Stanley, Idaho welcomes December, a truly beautiful and serene time of year in the Sawtooth Valley!

As the vibrant energy of summer and the seasonal tourists and workers move on, they leave behind the intimate community feel that sets Stanley apart. Yet, the charm of the town isn’t lost; a few cozy dining options remain open, while the staples of the town continue to offer their reliable services.

The tranquility of winter is more than just the town’s slow pace. It’s the breathtaking beauty of the Sawtooth Wilderness, wrapped in a stunning white cloak of snow. The peaks emerge more prominently, the contrasts in the landscape are magnified, and the whole scene creates a spectacle of quiet majesty, inspiring photographers and artists of any kind.

But Stanley in December isn’t just about solitude and scenery. It’s an invitation to bold exploration. While snow levels and weather may vary, the town remains an adventure lover’s dream.

Hot Springs

Stanley offers numerous natural hot springs, allowing you to indulge in nature’s own spa. See how many you can find during your stay!

Cross Country Skiing

The Park Creek and Alturas Lake Ski Trails also offer pristine cross-country skiing experiences that will get your lungs pumping in that clear mountain air, all while providing panoramic views.


Looking for something a little more unique? Stanley is home to the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, one of the best places in the world to stargaze. Even without a telescope, the sheer clarity and volume of stars visible will make your jaw drop in awe.

Wildlife Watching

For the wildlife enthusiast, the Stanley Basin becomes a winter wonderland teeming with wildlife. Elk and many other locals re-emerge into the valley and can be frequently spotted near the rivers and hot springs, providing an unmatched opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.


Snowmobiling becomes another exhilarating adventure with rentals from Sawtooth Traxx and Smiley Creek Lodge. Whether you choose to snowmobile, walk, or ski into Redfish, Stanley, or Alturas lake, you’re in for an experience unlike any other.

Of course, all of these activities vary from year to year depending on snow levels and weather- please be sure to check conditions as you plan your adventure!

Relax and Recharge

After a day filled with adventure and discovery, there’s no better place to unwind than the Redfish Riverside Inn. The cozy rooms with riverside deck access not only provide comfort but allow you to be one with nature even as you rest.

Stanley, Idaho, in December is a perfect blend of serenity and adventure, of solitude and community, and of natural beauty and wildlife. It’s a place where you can escape the clamor of the world and immerse yourself in the simplicity and peace of nature. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a wildlife lover, a stargazing dreamer, or just someone looking for a peaceful retreat, Stanley in December will leave you amazed and yearning to come back.