Escape to the Sawtooths and Redfish Lake

July 16, 2015

After record-breaking heat, a trip to Redfish Lake was just what we needed.

This post is brought to you in partnership with Merrick Pet Care. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s amazing how some things work out when you don’t make any plans. As a self-described type-A, I like plans. Knowing where I’m going to be and when, for how long, etc., is important. Without these plans I can turn into a complete basket case, but often that’s where Kyle thrives. Even though most of the activities we do and trips we take are pretty well thought out, occasionally I sit back and venture over to the wild side of spontaneity. For it’s here where some of life’s best moments live.

The last weekend in June is a busy one. Our little lake town fills with visitors from around the world for Ironman Coeur d’Alene. While the excitement of the big race is fun, we typically choose to avoid the crowds and get out of dodge until the influx of athletes and their families vacate for another year. This year we had planned to head up north for a little camping, but changed our minds last minute and headed south instead.


We packed my little Subaru to the hilt with camping supplies, weekend bags and most importantly, Juneau. Finally pulling out of the alley around 6 p.m., we headed down the oh-so-familiar route of Highway 95 south toward Boise. Our goal was to make it to McCall and camp for the night, but as we wound our way down through the Palouse Kyle’s eyes became a bit to heavy to continue on as driver. So, around 10 p.m. I took over and got us as far as Riggins before I finally needed to call it a night.

Too exhausted to set up the tent, we opted for a cozy bed and continental breakfast at the Salmon Rapids Lodge. We woke early the next morning, fed Juneau her favorite new food, fed ourselves, played a little fetch in the lawn and hit the road again.


We spent the next couple days catching up with family and friends in Kyle’s old stomping grounds. We typically stay with his uncles, Joe and Keith, along with their dogs Diego and Sophie. This was our first time bringing Juneau along, and she and Sophie hit it off. Juneau isn’t one to really play with other dogs, she’s more likely to just hang out with them or ignore them altogether, so the fact that they played fetch together and hung out made me pretty happy.

A much as we love visiting Boise, our real trip began when we left Monday for a new destination. A place not yet explored by us.




Heading northeast on the 21, the scenery quickly changed from high desert to much higher rocky cliffs and river valley. Trees populated the hillside and the occasional deer lifted its head to watch us pass. It wasn’t long before we reached our destination – the little town of Stanley and Redfish Lake.

If Coeur d’Alene is considered a small town by some, then Stanley is barely a blip on the radar. With a population of just 63 in 2010, Stanley is one of many of the small mountain towns along the forks of the Salmon River. Nestled along the base of the Sawtooth Mountains, the town of Stanley consists of a couple river outfitters and outdoor retailers, a small store and gas station, a couple motels, a restaurant and a saloon. Just a few miles up the road is the stunning Redfish Lake.


Redfish is a small, alpine lake named for the salmon that come there to spawn. It’s shallow and due to this year’s extreme heat, very warm. Upon arrival we decided to get out and spend the afternoon hiking.

We hiked from the lodge to the Redfish Lake Trailhead. It wasn’t hot when we started, we expected it to be quite a bit cooler because of the elevation. It wasn’t too long before we realized the surrounding forest was sparse due to a fire in 2013, with little-to-no shade. We stopped frequently to drink water and spray Juneau down with water from our packs and let her lay in what little shade we could find.

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Despite the heat, we enjoyed the views  of the lake and surrounding mountains from high above as we climbed closer to the peaks of Mt. Heyburn. About half-way through our six-mile excursion, we took a detour to the bench lakes (I still don’t really know what that means) to cool off and have a snack. I’ve never seen Juneau so happy to be in the water. At the end of the hike we caught a ferry back to the lodge and all three of us were thankful to be cool and seated.


That night we ate at the lodge and crashed hard after a long day in the sun.

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We had planned an early bike ride before leaving on Tuesday morning. Feeling still a bit hungover from the heat and long hike, we grabbed breakfast at the diner and decided to get a little lake action instead. Kyle rented a canoe and I gave Juneau a swimming lesson with her new life jacket (more on that later) while we waited for him at the dog beach. We spent the morning paddling around the lake and streams, soaking in every bit of relaxation before hitting the road for home.


We started the weekend with nothing but a few days off work and finished it full of good memories, fun stories and an incredibly tired pup.

Of course, Kyle made a video to show you even more than any blog post could ever tell.

I’d like to say thank you to Merrick for sponsoring this awesome trip and supporting the health and well-being of adventure dogs everywhere.

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More about Andy

I'm a north-Idahoan, a WSU grad, local writer, content marketing specialist and photographer with a passion for where I live. I love the outdoors, animals, good food, wine, and time spent with my husband, family and friends.

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