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September 24, 2011 / mws

2011 Sawtooth Mountains, September

September 20, 2011   This was a long driving day.  We started in Yakima, Washington and travelled northeast through Washington and into Idaho.  We just couldn’t be in this area without stopping in Sandpoint, Idaho!  Shopping at the original Coldwater Creek Store is always fun as is the entire town of Sandpoint.  Oh, and the Razzleberry Pie at Panhandler Pies was an added bonus!

September 21, 2011   This was one of our open, relaxing days as we drove south through the scenic panhandle of Idaho.  Our stop for the night was Grangeville, Idaho.  We had a great dinner at Oscar’s in downtown Grangeville.

September 22, 2011 

At Stanley LakeWe arrived in Stanley, Idaho, Gateway to the Sawtooth Mountains.  We are having unusually warm weather here in Central Idaho, though it is chilly in the mornings. Four mountain ranges: the Sawtooths, Boulders, White Clouds, and Smokies provide scenic landscapes in every direction.  There are over 300 lakes, and 250 miles of trails, as well as four of Idaho’s major rivers: the Salmon, South Fork of the Payette, the Boise, and the Big Wood.  So if you like mountains, rivers and lakes you will not want to miss this area!

We made a stop at Stanley Lake and the Stanley Campground area.  Stanley Lake is situated beneath rugged 9,860 ft. McGowan Peak in a beautiful alpine valley. Just up the road from the Lake is the Campground.  In this campground is a scenic overlook that is sought out by many photographers and artists.  We did our best to try to capture the view.  After enjoying the scenery, we checked into Valley Creek Motel, our home for the next three nights.

September 23, 2011

Sawtooth MountainsThis is the view across the street from our Motel…gorgeous scenery here in Stanley, Idaho!

For the activity today, we drove the Sawtooth Scenic Byway with Redfish Lake as our first stop.  Redfish Lake is named for the crimson Sockeye Salmon that once came to spawn in such massive quantities that the lake appeared red. This alpine lake is located at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho. We checked out the Lodge and went on a fun nature hike.

The Sawtooth Byway continued south and we took the turnoff for Alturas Lake. This lake lies beneath the Sawtooth Mountain Range at an elevation of 7,000 feet. This pristine alpine lake is a popular area for tourists and locals. Our next stop was Galena Summit which is found high in the Boulder Mountains at an elevation of 8,701 feet.  It is the highest summit on a highway in the Northwest.

At Sun Valley

We continued driving south until we reached the Sun Valley Resort.  This was a favorite stop of ours.  It is a very trendy area with lots of shops, restaurants and activities.  We had lunch on the outdoor terrace overlooking the skating rink. We took a stroll through the complex to see the SunValley Opera House, the resident swans and the Swiss architecture in the various buildings.

Petit LakeHeading north again, we saw a sign for a turnoff to Pettit Lake, so being the curious tourists that we are, we had to check it out.  It turned out to be a picturesque alpine lake with mountain scenery, creeks and trails nearby. Our next stop of the day was the Wood River Trail, just south of Stanley. It was good to hike a little and enjoy nature in central Idaho.

There was one more stop on the Scenic Sawtooth Byway. We had to stop at the Sawtooth National Recreation Headquarters to find this stop.  We had a strong memory of being at the Prairie Creek Campground on our last trip through Stanley.  We remembered it as a fabulous location for photography.

Sometimes when you revisit an area, you are disappointed…but not this time.View from Prarie Creek Campground

This picture is pretty, but it doesn’t quite depict how stunning it truly is!

September 24,  2011 
Wisdom, MontanaSince we often travel in the Pacific Northwest, we have some favorite small towns and restaurants.  Today, we travelled northeast from Stanley and made a stop in Wisdom, Montana.  Route 93 North was our beginning direction.  We crossed the Idaho/Montana border and then drove along the Bitteroot Mountain Range.  Midday we stopped in Wisdom to get lunch at The Crossing Bar.  Bordered by the Big Hole National Battlefield area, Wisdom is a very peaceful ranching town.

We discovered The Crossing Bar about 10 years ago and were amazed at the high quality of service and food.  In June, 2010, a fire leveled the restaurant and the owners decided to relocate rather than rebuild.  This was our first visit to the “new” Crossing Bar.  It was not the same but the food was good and the locals were very entertaining.Starting the Roundup

Along the journey today, we were fortunate to see one of our favorite western ideals…the roundup!  It appeared that about 200 cattle were being moved from the summer pasture to the winter grounds.  It was quite a sight to see as the cowhands took the shortest route and that involved the main highway!  The cows were making their presence known with their loud bawling,  Of course, they also left behind evidence of their excursion.Movin' on down the road

Our last stop of the day was back in Stanley, Idaho.   The Park Creek Overlook is a great spot to take in the Sawtooth Range.  This was a fitting way to end our adventures in the beautiful Sawtooth National Recreation Area.Park Creek Overlook

For more photos of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, click here

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