Ultimate Planning Guide for Eloping in Stanley, Idaho

Stanley, Idaho is one of the top places to elope in the entire state of Idaho, and for good reason! The little mountain town of Stanley, Idaho is surrounded by the towering Sawtooth Mountains. It's the perfect place to live or to vacation if you love all things outdoors. It's also the perfect place for your outdoor adventure elopement!


I have two elopements there next summer, so I have prepared an ultimate planning guide for eloping in Stanley, Idaho! I have found some awesome things to do in Stanley, so this blog post will go over:


  • Places to stay (including pet friendly places so you can bring your furry friend)

  • Places to eat

  • Awesome hikes, ranging from short day hikes to backpacking trails

  • Lakes to see and visit in Stanley

  • Campgrounds with some amazing views of the Sawtooth Mountains

  • Recreation areas

  • Some of the best hot springs in Idaho

  • Other activities to do in Stanley

karlie larson photography, idaho elopement photographer. ultimate planning guide for eloping in stanley, idaho. sawtooth mountains.

If you book me for your elopement, you will receive a more extensive, personalized and detailed list of recommendations for whatever location you're thinking for your elopement! If you want to book me for your elopement, you can contact me here!


Now, let's dig right in!


Places to Stay in Stanley - Including Pet Friendly Places | Local Places, Airbnb's, and VRBO's

Pretty much any place you book in Stanley has stunning mountain views. Since Stanley is a small town, all of these places are pretty close to each other. Here are some places right in Stanley that you can stay at.

  • Redfish Lake Lodge

  • Triangle C Cabins - Cabin #4 and #5 are pet friendly

  • Stanley Town Square

  • Sawtooth Hotel

  • Mountain Village Resort - pet friendly options and free access to hot springs

  • Lower Stanley Country Store and Motel - pet friendly options

  • Redfish Riverside Inn - pet friendly options

  • Stanley High Country Inn - pet friendly options

  • Redwood Cabins - pet friendly options

  • Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch

Here are some awesome Airbnb's to stay at that (these would also make for some awesome photos for your elopement too):

Lastly here are some VRBO's as well. You can click the link here to see even more pet friendly VRBO's in Ketchum/Sun Valley area.


Places to Eat

Now that you have a place to stay, you're gonna be hungry for dinner! All of the restaurants in Stanley have different operating hours, and I've noticed most are closed for fall break. So these places are usually open for their winter season and their summer season. Check out their specific websites to see their menus and operating hours. Here's a few more popular options!

  • Redfish Lake Lodge - Limbert's, The Rustic Lounge, and Lakeside Grill

  • Papa Brunee's

  • Sawtooth Hotel

  • Stanley Supper Club

  • Stanley Baking Company

  • Mountain Village Resort

  • Smiley Creek Lodge

  • Sawtooth Luce's

Awesome Hikes

Moving on to one of the main reasons why people travel to Stanley: their hiking trails! Stanley has absolutely amazing and stunning trails, some of the best in Idaho! Who doesn't want to hike among the towering Sawtooth Mountains?! So, I have found some cool trails to share with you! I found some easy, moderate, and longer backpacking trails.


-Easy hikes:
  • Fishhook Creek Trail - Length: 4.5 miles. Elevation gain: 288 feet

  • Marshall Ridge - Forks off of Fishhook Creek Trail. You climb a short ridge, and it offers stunning views of the Sawtooths.

  • Fourth of July Lake Trail - Length: 5.5 miles. Elevation gain: 862 feet

  • Lily Pond and Redfish Lake Creek Falls - You have to take a shuttle boat from Redfish Lake to access the trailhead. Length: 1.7 miles. Elevation gain: 370 feet

  • Yellow Belly Lake - Length: 3.8 miles. Elevation gain: 206 feet

-Moderate hikes:
  • Goat Lake - Length: 8.1 miles. Elevation gain: 1,768 feet

  • Bench Lakes Trail - Length: 7.8 miles. Elevation gain: 1,240 feet

  • Sawtooth Lake via Iron Creek Stanley Lake Trail - Can be done as a day trip or backpacking trip. Length: 10 miles. Elevation gain: 1,873 feet.

  • Hell Roaring Lake - Length: 10.7 miles. Elevation gain: 728 feet

  • Pettit Lake to Twin Lakes and Alice Lake - A shorter version of Alice Toxaway Loop. Length: 13.3 miles. Elevation gain: 2,191 feet

  • Redfish Lake to Alpine Lake - You need ride the Redfish Lake shuttle to arrive at the trailhead. Length: 11.5 miles Elevation gain: 1,978 feet

  • Saddleback Lake - Length: 8.6 Elevation gain: 2,237 feet

-Backpacking trips:
  • Alice Toxaway Loop - 3 day backpacking trip (Pettit Lake, Farley Lake, Toxaway Lake, Twin Lakes, Alice Lake) About 20 miles total.

  • Redfish Lake Inlet to Cramer Lakes - Can be done on a day hike or backpacking trip. Length: 14.7 miles Elevation gain: 2,080 feet


Must-See Lakes

Besides the alpine lakes that you can hike to, Stanley also has drive up access to stunning lakes with just as of pretty views. This also means more people, so if you're eloping, try to pick either off season or opt for sunrise for more chances of privacy. But these lakes are still worth seeing regardless!

  • Redfish Lake

  • Little Redfish Lake

  • Stanley Lake

  • Pettit Lake

  • Alturas Lake

  • Perkins Lake

Campgrounds by Lakes

If you want the rugged, outdoor experience of staying in Stanley, camping is the way to go. There are breathtaking campsites available, so make sure you make your reservations in time! Some campgrounds are free, and others require a fee. Listed below is a list of campgrounds right next to the most popular lakes in Stanley!

  • Stanley Lake Campground/Lake View Campground

  • Iron Creek Campground

  • Sunny Gulch Campground

  • Chinook Bay Campground

  • Mountain View Campground

  • Redfish Lake Inlet Campground

  • Sockeye Campground

  • Mt. Heyburn Campground

  • Point Campground

  • Outlet Campground

  • Redfish Outlet Campground

  • Glacier View Campground

  • Pettit Lake Campground

  • Alturas Tent Campground

  • Smokey Bear Campground

  • North Shore Campground

  • Alturas Inlet Campground


Recreation Areas

Perfect for photos, eating lunch, or going swimming, here's some day use areas.

  • Orval Hansen Point Beach

  • North Shore Picnic Area

  • Stanley Lake Overlook/Day Use

  • Pettit Lake Day Use Area


Hot Springs

After a long day of exploring Stanley, why not relax in some of the best hot springs in Idaho? These are the ones I found to be the prettiest, but there are some other good ones to choose from as well. If you go during peak season, you might want to go early in the day, or later at night. These spots will be popular during the day in peak season. Make sure you pay all necessary fees to access these pools (if required).

  • Boat Box Hot Springs

  • Kirkham Hot Springs (1 hour outside Stanley)

  • Valley Creek/Snake Pit Hot Springs

  • Mountain Village Resort - free hot springs access if you stay with them

  • Sunbeam Hot Springs


Other Activities

Besides hiking, boating, or mountain biking, there are many more unique activities available to enjoy in Stanley. Here's a few popular options!

  • Fly fishing on the Salmon River

  • Horseback riding with Redfish Lake Corrals

  • Dark Sky Reserve

  • White water rafting/floating the river

  • Sawtooth Fish Hatchery


karlie larson photography, idaho elopement photographer. ultimate planning guide for eloping in stanley, idaho. sawtooth mountains.

Vendors for your Elopement

If you're coming in from out of town, there are limited vendors you can hire. There aren't a ton of options in Stanley, but the nearby town of Ketchum/Sun Valley has more options for vendors like hair stylists, makeup artists, and florists. If you still can't find what you're looking for, Boise is 2-3 hours away and some companies can deliver. You could also probably meet in the middle so the delivery cost isn't so high.


There are some tips you can keep in mind to make the process smoother, such as ordering wood flowers so they won't wilt by the time you are ready, or keep in mind flowers can be ready to go for a few days if they're kept cold. You can order pre-made floral bouquets as well, and they come in a cooler. Usually bouquets can be put together before the blooms open, so in the few days until you arrive, they won't be bloomed out. Or you can simply make the bouquet yourself. I've had brides do this and the florals turn out beautiful! As for food, you can also order dessert ahead of time, and have it delivered to you if you don't order locally. There are some restaurants in Stanley that offer desserts as well. If you aren't a fan of cake, it will be easier to order something like custom cookies, and bring them with you.


Other Info

Since Stanley is such high elevation (over 6,000 feet above sea level), you might want to come into town a few days early because you might get altitude sickness. When I visited McCall for an elopement (check out those images here!) I felt sick for a couple hours. It wasn't bad, but I didn't feel great. There is some medicine you can order for that and take it with you, like this one from Amazon.


Another cool thing about Stanley is that there isn't any light pollution. So there's good chances to see some amazing stars, which also means awesome photo opportunities!


Stanley is such an amazing place, and one of the prettiest in Idaho! This ultimate planning guide for eloping in Stanley, Idaho will be perfect if you're eloping here, or just visiting! Have you been to Stanley? I am so excited to go in the summer for the elopements that I'm photographing!


karlie larson photography, idaho elopement photographer. ultimate planning guide for eloping in stanley, idaho. sawtooth mountains.