Government, Guides and Outfitters, Recreation

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Hours of Operation

SNRA Visitor Center:
8:30am – 5pm Mon – Sat (Summer)
10am – 4pm Mon – Fri (Winter)

Nestled in the Wood River Valley, the Headquarters Visitor Center is the southern gateway to the majestic landscapes of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The Visitor Center features a wide range of information services, compelling educational programs, video presentation, audio tour tapes and natural history exhibits. Here you will find the headwaters of the Salmon River and over 300 alpine lakes which lie nestled between the jagged peaks. Trail rides and pack trips, scenic drives, hiking and boating are all available near Stanley.  There is a Dump Station, Gift Shop, Handicap Access, Instruction, Motor Coach Parking, Parking, Restrooms, Visitor Center.

The SNRA can be reached by driving 2.5 hours east on State Highway 21 from Boise, Idaho; making a one-hour drive north on State Highway 75 from the Ketchum/Sun Valley area, or by driving one hour west on State Highway 75 from Challis, Idaho. Driving times vary by season; during the winter months, call the Idaho Department of Transportation for road conditions.

Located at the northernmost end of the Sawtooth National Forest, SNRA comprises one of the largest and most magnificent National Recreation Areas in the United States. Four mountain ranges: the Sawtooths, Boulders, White Clouds, and Smokies provide scenic landscapes in every direction, with more than 50 major peaks over 10,000 feet, 300 lakes, and 250 miles of trails. There are more than 1,000 high mountain lakes here, as well as the headwaters of four of Idaho’s major rivers: the Salmon, South Fork of the Payette, the Boise, and the Big Wood.

Summer and fall activities within SNRA include fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, nature trails, wildlife viewing, mountain biking, birdwatching, canoeing, kayaking, and whitewater float boating.

Most trails within the Sawtooth NRA are open to mountain bike users, with the exclusion of wilderness trails. Other trails are open to motorized off-road vehicles. Many of the lakes on the SNRA are open to motorized boating. The SNRA also contains the headwaters of the Salmon River, which is a float boater’s paradise. Redfish Lake is a wonderful place for sail boating. Other warm-weather activities include water-skiing, horseback riding, picnicking, hunting, airplane tours, llama trekking, and swimming.

Family camping attracts more recreationists to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area than any other single activity. There are 37 developed campgrounds with a total of 700 individual sites along the Salmon River in the Stanley, Redfish, and Alturas Lake areas and in the Wood River Valley. Camping outside of developed campgrounds is allowed with some restrictions.

The Sawtooth NRA is heaven for those looking for scenic drives. Three National Scenic Byways—the Sawtooth, Salmon River and Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byways—converge in Stanley, Idaho, the largest settlement in the Sawtooth NRA.

Tape tours are available from the SNRA headquarters, the Stanley Ranger Station, and the Ketchum Ranger Station. This tape tour describes the Forest Service management of the SNRA, geology, history, and natural history. The tape tour and cassette players are available on loan free of charge for area visitors. Evening campfire programs and interpretive activities are available at the Wood River Campground and Redfish Lake Amphitheaters Wednesday through Saturday during the summer season.

During the winter and spring, popular activities are cross-country skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, steelhead fishing, winter camping, and ice skating on a pond at the SNRA Headquarters located eight miles north of Ketchum. The SNRA maintains about 150 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and more than 70 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. Backcountry skiing is quite popular and helicopter skiing is available in the SNRA with a heli-ski outfitter.

Visitor Center (208) 727-5013
Information (208) 727-5000
Toll Free (800) 260-5970
SV/Ketchum Ranger (208) 622-5371
Stanley Ranger Station (208) 774-3000
Redfish Lake Visitor Center (208) 774-3376 (mid-June to Labor Day)

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