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Stories From Stanley, Idaho

The Creature Comforts of Stanley: 9 Great Places to Refuel and Unwind After Your Sawtooth Adventures

The Creature Comforts of Stanley: 9 Great Places to Refuel and Unwind After Your Sawtooth Adventures

Tucked away in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, Stanley is known as launch point for wild and rugged adventures. But the town is also teeming with plenty of creature comforts: With a wide range of wellness options and a wonderful restaurant scene, it’s the perfect place to pamper sore muscles and feast on mouthwatering meals you really earned while getting after it.

Whether you’re craving a massage or a soak in a hot spring, you’ll find a soothing cure in Stanley. Its dining options, meanwhile, offer everything from comfort food to upscale dinners. And when it’s time to trade the tent and sleeping bag for a comfy bed, you’ll find plenty of cozy accommodations. As you’re planning your next excursion in the Idaho mountains, don’t forget to include a good recovery plan. Here are nine places in Stanley where you can fuel up, unwind, and recharge before heading back to reality.

1. Redfish Lake Lodge

Redfish Lake Lodge is Stanley’s one-stop shop and the heart of many goings-on in town. The lodge is open year-round and offers far more than just comfortable digs. Visitors can rent bikes or catch a boat shuttle across the lake to climb or take a photography class, among many other activity options. After a day of adventure, grab a drink at the nostalgic Rustic Lounge or book a massage in a room overlooking the Salmon River.

2. Redd Square

Located in the Stanley Town Square complex (next to the public library), Redd Square feels like the kind of restaurant you might find in a big city, with a menu of local, seasonal specials and a nicely curated selection of beer and wine—all without a hint of pretension. In addition to a truly exceptional meal, you’ll enjoy the restaurant’s low-key atmosphere. Top it off with a slice of homemade pie and coffee roasted on-site, and be sure to sign the guest journal before you leave. And if you’re looking for a sweet souvenir, the restaurant’s house-made candies, including spicy peanut brittle and sea salt caramel, are a perfect option.

3. Papa Brunee’s

When you’re looking for that classic post-adventure refuel—that is, pizza and beer, and in large quantities—Papa Brunee’s is the place to be. Order ahead to pick up a pie to go, or stop in and enjoy a slice (or a sub) with a beer. It’s impossible to forget you’re in a small town when you’re eating at this locals’ favorite, which is always full of friendly faces. If you happen to by in town on a Th

4. Stanley Kasino Club

Looking for something a little more interesting than a standard post-hike beer? The Stanley Kasino Club is, fittingly, located on Ace of Diamonds Boulevard, and it’s a lively place to unwind and experience something out of the ordinary. The Kasino Club serves classic, meat-and-potatoes-style dishes (“Nothing fancy, just fine Idaho dining!” in their own words) and tasty craft cocktails. After hours, the place really comes to life as live music cranks up and the festive party atmosphere kicks in.

5. Meadow Creek Resort and Spa

 
 
 

Its adorable—not to mention modern and sparkling clean—tiny house-style cabins are enticing enough on their own. But the luxurious spa packages really make a visit to Meadow Creek Tiny House Resort & Spa memorable. Overnight guests are eligible for great deals on 45-minute massages and facials, among other kinds of body treatments perfect for helping soothe sore muscles after a big day in the mountains. Meadow Creek is open year-round, but its hours are limited in the winter months.

6. Stanley RV + Camp

 
 
 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier spot to park an RV than at Stanley RV + Camp. Not only is it the best RV option in town, but it might also be one of the best options you’ll find anywhere. The mountains provide a stunning backdrop to this pet-friendly campground with 29 full-hookup RV sites, a handful of tent sites, and cozy “wooden tents” for a taste of glamping, complete with queen-sized beds and electricity. In addition to the sparkling clean restrooms (a true joy when you’re camping), you’ll also find laundry facilities, hot showers, and free WiFi.

7. Mountain Village Resort

Three words set the Mountain Village Resort apart from most places you’ll stay in your life: private hot spring. Guests have free access to the hot spring, and they can reserve in advance to have the hot spring (and the view of Valley Creek and the Sawtooths) all to themselves. After a relaxing soak, head for a drink at the Saloon. Then, if you’re ready to kick up your heels, the Velvet Falls Dance Hall, an event space with live music, won’t disappoint.

8. Bridge Street Grill

 

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Sure, all of Stanley is near the majestic Salmon River—but you can’t dine directly on its banks anywhere except the Bridge Street Grill. The restaurant is not only notable for its prime location, but it’s also owned and operated by a family that has lived in the area since the pioneer days. They also own Woolley Ranch, right across the river. While you sip a drink or enjoy a steak on the patio—the signature Woolley Mammoth Burger is also a hands-down winner—you can take in the fresh mountain air and views of the Sawtooth Mountains. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of the resident nesting bald eagle.

9. Sawtooth Hotel

Open mid-May through mid-October, the Sawtooth Hotel has been housing guests in its iconic and largely unchanged log cabin-style lodge since 1931. With just nine rooms (none of which have televisions), the rustic atmosphere makes for an authentic mountain town experience reminiscent of what guests in bygone eras might have enjoyed.

After you’ve been out and about for the day, head to the hotel dining room to experience what owners call “Northwest comfort food.” Smoked pork belly lettuce wraps are a standout appetizer; while entrees like cider brined chicken and chipotle meatloaf offer creative takes on classic favorites.

Any outdoor adventure is even more satisfying when you can reflect on the experience over a delicious meal. Likewise, you’ll appreciate the hardships of the trail even more while soaking in a hot spring or savoring a massage. The time we spend refueling and unwinding seems just as crucial as the time we spend in the wild. Even the most hardcore explorers will admit that one of the best parts of any journey is the return to civilization—especially in a town like Stanley.

Written by Emma Walker for Matcha in partnership with Stanley Sawtooth CoC and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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