best of camping

Wood River Valley resident Tory Canfield cruises on Redfish Lake on a stand-up paddle board in early summer.
Photo by Willy Cook

a mountain lake
like no other

An Idaho favorite, Redfish offers recreation with a view.
Jennifer Liebrum

The lure of Redfish Lake is so powerful that fish have literally risked their lives to get there and, well, die. And then, the people followed, and they thrived.

Robert Limbert declared the pristine glacier lake 6,550 feet above sea level a place where one can literally "turn your back on the grind of the civilized world," as he did in 1929 while stacking logs in the Sawtooth Mountains. Today, it is still considered the best camping spot in the region.

The 4.5-miles-long lake south of Stanley is 387 feet deep with 11 miles of shoreline. Its name comes from the brilliant sockeye salmon that once returned from the Pacific Ocean in such massive numbers that the lake shimmered red during spawning season.

A rustic lodge, cabins, sandy beaches and even a dog beach have just added to its allure. Visitors on jet skis and paddle boards make peace, and many use the shoreline as a wedding destination.

Live music, boat rentals and plenty of hiking, horseback riding, fishing and campsites mean Redfish Lake is a one-stop vacation paradise.
Valley residents often "move" up to the lake for the summer, securing campsites and commuting from the hills into the city for work.

For less rugged types, there are a variety of rustic indoor accommodations; all ensure a great journey to a great place to live, or—in the cases of the determined salmon—die.

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