9 Reasons To Visit Redfish Lake, Idaho In 2024

The drive in to your favorite vacation spot is not often considered one of the best parts of the trip.

But that’s not so while making the trek into Stanley, Idaho to visit one of the best hidden gems in the state and all of the country in Redfish Lake.

The mountain highway in offers plenty of incredible views of the rugged Sawtooth Mountains that surround one of the most spectacular alpine lakes in the US.

But while the drive in will be memorable, there are nine more reasons Redfish Lake should be on your bucket list of vacation spots.

9 Reasons To Visit Redfish Lake Idaho

1)  Breathtaking Scenery

They don’t get much more picturesque than Redfish Lake, which offers crystal clear water so that you can see all the way to the bottom in most places.

Couple that with the backdrop of the rugged peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains and the lush pine trees that border the entire lake shore, and you’ll never not have an amazing view while here.

2)  Get Out On The Water

Redfish Lake offers a number of recreational activities to keep both adults and kids plenty entertained while here.

You can rent any number of different water vessels including pontoon boats, paddle boats, kayaks, canoes and paddle boards to explore the lake in.

Or if you’d prefer someone else to motor you around, you can take a guided boat tour of the lake, book a sunset cruise or simply hop on the shuttle boat that will ferry you to the other side of the lake on-demand to explore.

Being out on the lake itself offers some of the best views of the surrounding mountains.

3)  Beach It…At The Lake

That’s right, Redfish Lake is home to a number of sandy beaches that will offer you the best of both the lake and beach with a mountain backdrop.

There are multiple beaches to set up on, all with the kind of soft, white sand you’d expect to find some place more tropical.

And while the main beach by the Lodge can get a little crowded during the peak of summer, there are beaches just across the lake that you can be dropped at by the boat shuttle and have pretty much all to yourself.

4)  Scenic Horseback Riding

About a minute’s drive up from Redfish Lake is the Redfish Lake Corral, which offers guided scenic horseback riding through the breathtaking Sawtooth Wilderness.

Hop on one of their gentle trail horses and experience the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho with the family in true cowboy fashion.

There are multiple rides and trails to choose from, ranging from one-hour to all-day rides.

5)  Wildlife Sightings Galore

Redfish Lake and the surrounding Sawtooth Wilderness are home to a diverse range of wildlife you may catch a glimpse of while here.

Elk, deer, bald eagles, beavers, pine martens, red foxes, black bears, osprey and various other bird species are a few of the interesting critters you may lay eyes on.

And who could forget the bright red salmon the name got its lake from, which can be seen swimming in the clear waters of the lake and creeks that empty into it.

6)  Unmatched Star-Gazing

Like you’d expect in this remote location, there’s not much in the way of light pollution around Redfish Lake.

So when the sun goes down, prepare yourself for some of the best star-gazing you could imagine.

7)  Awesome Hiking

There are numerous awesome hiking trails that wind around the lake itself and through the surrounding Sawtooth Wilderness, all accessible from the lake.

There’s a 17.5-mile trail that’ll take you around the entire lake, and then shorter trails that offer amazing views of the Sawtooth Mountains and surrounding bodies of water.

8)  Relax

Vacation wouldn’t be vacation without a little relaxation, right?  And Redfish Lake offers plenty of opportunity to just chill out if that’s what you want.

There’s an outdoor restaurant that offers cold drinks and great views, where you can sit and catch a sunset.

Or plenty of smaller sandy beaches and areas around the lake shore where you can find some solitude and read a book.

Though there’ll be plenty of others who have come to enjoy this hidden gem along with you during the summer months, it’s a far cry from other loud and crowded vacation spots.

9) Camping With A Spectacular View

There are nine different campgrounds located around Redfish Lake, most of which are situated right next to the shoreline and offer you an amazing view of the Sawtooth Mountains as you unzip your tent in the morning.

The campgrounds range from primitive, tent-only sites to pull-through RV sites.  You can check out the differences here.

Where To Stay

There are three main options for lodging to consider around Redfish Lake:  the Redfish Lake Lodge, the Redfish Lake Cabins, and the lake’s nine campgrounds.

Redfish Lake Lodge

The main lodge area at the lake will take you back in time, as it still appears to be the classic, rustic mountain lodge it was when it opened in 1929.

But inside you’ll find it cozy and inviting.

There are multiple motel-style rooms for guests to stay upstairs, along with a restaurant and a huge front porch where you can sit in rocking chairs and look out over the lake and marina.

There’s also a general store right next door where you can grab a souvenir or any of the basics you may have forgotten.

Private Cabins

If you’d prefer a more private experience or want to get the whole family together in one dwelling, you can rent one of the various stand-alone cabins.

These cabins range in size from being able to accommodate between two and eight total guests.

And they offer their own private deck areas along with more living space than you’ll find in the rooms at the main lodge.


As mentioned above, there are also nine different campgrounds located around the lake if you’re into a more primitive-style stay.

Unless you’re bringing your RV, of course.

Final Word

There are some awe-inspiring mountain lakes out there, but it doesn’t get much better than the picturesque Redfish Lake and surrounding Sawtooth Wilderness.

And with plenty of activities to choose from, there’s something for everyone here.

Whether traveling solo, as a couple, or with the entire family…your trip to Redfish Lake in Idaho is guaranteed to be a memorable one.