The Salmon River starts a the south end of the Stanley Basin (that’s what the valley is called) and flows north picking up water along the way. Eventually it turns west and runs into the Snake. We tried to drive to the headwaters but snow stopped us a little short. Here it is as far as we got.
The Middle Fork of the Salmon also starts in the basin. It runs through the wilderness area and is one of the best rafting rivers in the country..I floated it for six days in my youth.
About ten miles south of Stanley ( term used to mean both upper and lower Stanley) is the site of the old Clark-Miller Guest Ranch. Our family went there every year when I was growing up. About eight old cabins situated on a creek about a hundred yards from the edge of the primitive area (ie,the Sawtooths- no motors allowed-ride a horse or walk in). Built in the 1920s, they had wood burning stoves, hand-crank water pumps, and outhouses (with Sears catalogs in them). We took pack trips back into primitive area each year. It was run by Isabel Miller, a family friend and my fifth grade teacher. When she died, so did the guest ranch. It is now a family compound. It is still the closest thing to a sacred place for my family. This picture was taken from the highway so it unfortunately does not show much.
Going north from there towards Stanley, one comes to Redfish Lake an the Redfish Lake Lodge.The lodge also goes back to the 1920s but there are new cabins and campgrounds. The food is good and the view across the lake to the Sawtooths spectacular. An evening cocktail cruise on a pontoon boat defines the good life.
Near the lodge is the corral of the Mystic Saddle Ranch which provides day rides and pack trips into the Sawtooths. Family, friends and I have taken five or six Sawtooth pack trips with them since about 1989. If you ever want a real wilderness experience, do that. I cannot express how wonderful it is back in the Sawtooths with a first class outfitter. Here is one of there employees, Becca (yes Becca), at the corral having a love fest with Gus.
Mystic Saddle Ranch is owned and operated by Jeff and Deb Bitton, really great people who seem to know everyone around. Also, Jeff knows most everything about the area, its animals and plants. He is the consummate outdoorsman. We have become friends over the years. In the winter, they go down to Phoenix and run trail rides out of two county parks (they are no fools-the winters in Stanley are hellacious). So we see them when we go down for spring training. Here they are with their daughter Katy.
There are numerous lakes in the area in addition to Redfish. One is Petit Lake which is just south of Clark-Miller. It is noteworthy since it is the only lake with cabins on it. As a result, those cabins are very expensive-one is owned by Bruce Willis. Gus like the lake-which means dog prints in the car.
Finally, in addition to all the other scenic wonders in the area, there is also an abundance of wildflowers. Mid-June is spring time here and the wild flowers are just getting started.