Set in a broad basin at the eastern foot of the angular Sawtooth Mountains, 58 miles west of Challis, Stanley (pop. 68; elev. 6,250 feet) is a tiny, isolated town that makes an excellent base for exploring the surrounding two-million-plus acres of alpine forest. In summertime, the population swells to around 500, including visitors, so although it’s just 60 miles north of busy Sun Valley, there’s still plenty of room to move. Hikers and mountain bikers in summer, and cross-country skiers in winter, should have no trouble finding solitude among the 10,000-foot peaks; the ranger station (208/774-3000), four miles south of town on Hwy-75, can supply details of trails and campgrounds as well as rafting trips along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
Places to eat, drink, and be merry stand along Ace of Diamonds Street, the main street of Stanley proper, southwest of the Hwy-21/75 junction. Log cabin breakfasts and great freshly baked goodies are available at Stanley Baking Co. & Café (250 Wall St., 208/774-6573). Later in the day, make your way to the Kasino Club (34 Ace of Diamonds, 208/774-3516), serving steaks and chops and frequent live music on Friday and Saturday evenings.