The Satwooth Mountains of central Idaho have no shortage of lakes, yet of all the ones you can drive to, Stanley stands among the nicest. This smallish lake (about a mile across) sits at 6,500 feet about 7 miles west of Stanley, which is the hub and gateway for travelers into the Sawtooth. Two campgrounds line the shore and several trails begin from here. There’s a boat ramp and fishing. Plenty of people show up during the day to boat, swim, and fish, but most clear out in the afternoon, leaving a sublime all-to-yourself feeling. While the trails heading into the mountains from here see fair use, they are empty in the early morning and that is when we saw a wealth of wildlife.
Lake Redfish is a massive and clean mountain lake in Idaho's Challis National Forest and a great place to spend a summer weekend. Idaho is obviously a looong ways from the beach, so what's the local summertime solution when you need to cool off? Head to Lake Redish! While the water is a bit chilly even in August, the lake has several soft, sandy beaches where you can set up the deck chairs, break out the picnic cooler, and take a swim or simply relax in the shade.
There are two main bases of operation for those visiting Lake Redfish. The first is the Redfish Lake Lodge, a private restaurant/boat rental area which, while a bit pricey, is probably your best option if you're just visiting and don't have your own gear. They have reasonable rental prices on canoes and kayaks which will let you explore the lake and find your own little sandy corner away from the crowds that sometimes gather around the lodge. Other other main starting point is the state campgrounds, but it's more appropriate if you have your own camping gear, boats, fishing gear, etc.
There are rental cabins scattered around the lodge and they'r really state of the art! I'd even go as far to call it "glamping." I mean, everything was new, the floors were heated...just amazing. You can ask or call the lodge to find out about availability. If you're visiting in summertime, I'd suggest getting a cabin for a couple of days (better during the week to avoid crowds) and doing some swimming and fishing with the majestic Sawtooth Mountains in the background.