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Get Out There

(page 4 of 7)


Drive a few miles to the north or south of the Wood River Valley and you can take your pick of alpine lakes or mineral-infused hot springs. Water-skiing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, fishing or a hot soak are all a part of summer in—and on—the waters of central Idaho.

Stanley Basin

If you want to be wowed with the sheer natural beauty of Idaho, there’s no better place than Redfish Lake ( Named for the red sockeye salmon that come here to spawn every summer, the otherworldly clarity of the water at Redfish is rivaled only by the air quality of the high mountain lake (elevation 6,550’). The views alone are worth the trip, as the Sawtooth Range, highlighted by Mount Heyburn, rises over the lake like a snow-covered sentry. The Redfish Lake Lodge Marina offers a myriad of rentals from kayaks to canoes, paddleboats to outboards and pontoon boats. Waterskiing (also popular at nearby Alturas Lake) is not for the faint of heart, however, and a wet suit is recommended (average summer water temps at Redfish are 50-60˚F). Mooring is available to guests of the Lodge and Sandy Beach has a public boat ramp.

Right Angles

Drive across any river bridge in Idaho in the summer and you’re sure to see a fisherman, casting out in hopes of landing a lunker. Cutthroat trout is the state fish of Idaho for good reason—“cuts” and their fishy siblings, rainbow, bull, brook and lake trout, inhabit most of our rivers and lakes. And they’re not the only species. Salmon and steelhead have long populated area waters as well.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game makes sure that sections of the Main Salmon, as well as numerous other alpine lakes and streams, are stocked during the summer months. So just about every body of water in the basin offers some kind of angling opportunity. Bring your own gear or check in with any of the area guides—in Stanley or Ketchum—or visit the Chamber of Commerce’s website ( for more information.

Into the Wild

To get to the postcard picture of the alpine lake you bought in the gift shop is not impossible, but may require a little legwork. Whether you want to go it on your own, trail map in hand, or connect with a local outfitter, you won’t be disappointed. Sawtooth Mountain Guides ( leads custom treks that can be as short as an afternoon hike or as involved as a multiple-day backpacking trip. Call the Stanley Ranger Station for a map of the area at 208.774.3000.

Getting There

From Sun Valley, less than hour drive north on Highway 75, up and over Galena Summit, gets you into the Stanley Basin.


Magic Reservoir

On the edge of the Camas Prairie lies a small but defiant reservoir that refuses to go away—no matter how bad the drought. It’s Magic Reservoir, a local’s favorite and a warm alternative to the chilly alpine lakes. Magic is a great spot to waterski, wakeboard and windsurf. Rainbow and brown trout abound, as do yellow perch and smallmouth bass.

The Bureau of Land Management watches over the 14,000 acres of shoreline and water that make up Magic. According to Don Hartman, owner of West Magic Resort (, the number of people at the reservoir is directly proportionate to its water levels. “This summer will be a busy one with the amount of water we’ve gotten this winter.” Hartman’s resort includes two cabins, a restaurant and bar, convenience store, tackle shop and RV park. There are two sides to Magic, east and west, with the west side considerably more developed.

The east side does have just enough for some—a boat ramp, dock, nine semi-developed campsites and, perhaps most importantly, a bar (

Getting There

From Sun Valley, it’s little more than a half hour’s drive south down Highway 75, turning west on Highway 20, to reach the east side entrances. For the west side, which takes a little longer to access, stay on 75, past the Highway 20 junction, until you see signage on the right.



Hagerman, to the uninitiated, is home to one of the oldest horses in North America. The Hagerman Horse (Equus simplicidens) hails from the late Pliocene era, three and a half million years ago. But there’s more to this hamlet than old horse bones. Situated on the banks of the Snake River and bursting with natural hot springs, it’s an aquatic play land.

Tub Time

Hot or cold, inside or out, there is no shortage of Hagerman mineral water. Miracle Hot Springs ( has 19 private pools, a large warm outdoor pool and smaller hot pool. Jim House, who drains and cleans the pools every evening, says hot spring groupies, who travel the country like Deadheads on tour, come for the water and stay for the customer service. “We don’t shock the water with chlorine, so everything about it is natural. People appreciate how laid back we are, but at the same time how happy we are to accommodate them,” he said. High alkaline contents make your skin silky smooth, unlike their resident alligators, which are safely ensconced behind a fence near the mineral pools. Geodesic camping domes and an RV park with hook-ups are available if you’d like to make a weekend of it. The only indoor hot spring in town is 1000 Springs Resort, which( offers a large pool with high dive, slides and a lifeguard. It ranges in temp from 84-94ºF and is perfect for the whole family. Private rooms with tubs are also on site. Choice campsites are right on the water complete with docks, so bring your boat. There’s an RV park as well.

Land of a 1000 Springs

Landlubbers who prefer to just look at the water might find the 1000 Springs Tours ( that cruise the Snake River right up their alley. A 52-foot, heated and enclosed Catamaran Cruiser takes you on a “River’s Mist” two-hour, 12-mile dinner or lunch tour (complete with cocktails) where you’ll see waterfalls, birdlife, and maybe even an over-sized, prehistoric-looking sturgeon or two.

Getting There

From Sun Valley it’s less than a two-hour drive to Hagerman Valley. Take Highway 75 south until you hit U.S. 26 and take a right. Follow it until you hit U.S. 30 and make another left.

-Jody Orr
-photo by Cody Doucette



Sun Valley Magazine encourages its readers to post thoughtful and respectful comments on all of our online stories. Your comments may be edited for length and language.

Jun 21, 2011 04:35 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Thanks for these listing and little write ups. They are helpful.

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