Road Tripping to Nowhere: Sawtooth National Forest

Categories Mountains, Road Trips
Sawtooth
Time and time again, I’ve hit the road with no set destination in mind. Road tripping never seems to get old. Since it’s so much fun, this is the start of a new series all about adventures on the road, and what better place to start than my own backyard. Idaho is perfect for exploring, but as a state, it frequently gets lost in translation. Often I’ve heard people confuse Idaho with Iowa, or not know that Idaho exists all together. Idaho is certainly not a state people flock to visit. But Idaho, encompassing 83,642 square miles, is much more than a massive field of potatoes. It’s a recreational playground made up of lakes, wilderness, mountains and desert. It’s a place to disappear and right now, it’s home. I’ve spent over half my life in Idaho from the north to the south, and although at times I’m eager to move on, there are still many interesting areas to discover. One of the best parts about exploring Idaho is you really can road trip to nowhere and see where you end up. There are many scenic drives to choose from, but one of my favorite drives is through the Sawtooth Mountains. This time of year, the leaves are quickly turning, the days are cooling off and before long the valley will be covered in snow just like the bordering peaks.
 
Sawtooth National Forest

 

To enjoy the fall weather, my husband and I decided to drive up to the Sawtooths a couple weeks back. As we drove up from Boise, Idaho on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Drive though Idaho City (See Silver City v. Idaho City for more info on Idaho City) over the mountains to Lowman and continuing along the Payette River, the hills blazed with sprinkles of fall colors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short stop off at Stanley Lake was also well worth the detour. At times, the solitude and peacefulness at Stanley Lake is chilling. On a perfect day, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one around for miles, lost, never to be found.

 

Stanley Lake

 

Stanley Lake

 

After driving a little further, we came to the town of Stanley, an off-the-beaten track community hidden in a beautiful valley between the mountains. From Stanley through the Sawtooth National Forest, the valley opens into broad vistas with the Sawtooth Mountains looming in the background.

 

 

 

We then headed up over the mountains and dropped down the other side, continuing on Highway 75 towards Sun Valley, for more vibrant displays of color. 

 

Sawtooth National Forest

 

 

 
The U.S. Forest Service recommended North Fork Canyon as a good place to view the fall colors in the Sawtooth National Forest, so we sped towards Sun Valley trying to beat the sun setting. By the time we got to the area, the light was quickly fading, but not before I caught a few last shots. 

 

 

 

 

We finished the loop by driving through Sun Valley and back towards Boise on Highway 20 just as the sun was settling on the horizon. 
 
 

 

 
As any traveler, day-tripper or explorer can likely attest, it’s not always about the destination, but rather what you discover along the way. Idaho is a great place to get lost and end up somewhere (or nowhere) amazing!


Here’s the route! 


 

Where is your favorite place to road trip to? 
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