Hello and welcome to my article on Sawtooth National Forest. I’m Ana Flavia Bastos – a Brazilian woman who comes from an adventurous family. I loved taking camping trips with my parents and brother when I was young. These trips sparked a passion in me for exploration!
Recently, due to COVID-19, work was getting a bit slow and I realized that it could be a fantastic opportunity for me to take some time off and go exploring. Having lived in California for a few years, I have spent a great amount of time in the outdoors visiting places like Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.
I was ready to experience something new and have always heard amazing things about the scenery in Idaho. My good friend and I loaded up the car in Santa Cruz, California and set out for Sun Valley, Idaho. We were planning a three day backpacking trip to the Sawtooth Range and then wanted to head to Montana, Wyoming to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
Sawtooth National Forest came onto my radar a few years ago after speaking with friends who had visited. It was always on my bucket list of places to see in the United States before moving back to Brazil. However, it had been difficult for me to visit because of the distance from California.
My Experience at Sawtooth National Forest
Our plan was to do a two night/three day trip through Sawtooth National Forest. We left from the Pettit Lake trailhead and headed towards Alice Lake for our first night. As we arrived, we realized that we were one of only two groups that would be staying at the lake on this particular night.
This was so exciting for me given the crowds I normally experience in the Sierras of California. The following day we went up and over the pass and descended into Toxaway Lake which was absolutely breathtaking! We stayed here for the night and then returned to the car the following day.
On my trip, I found out that Sawtooth offered so many outdoor adventures. My favorite ones were swimming in the mountain lakes, hiking, stargazing and taking photos. I love one photo in particular from Sawtooth National Forest that my friend Bryan Hill took on the first morning at Alice Lake.
My friend was at the water’s edge gathering some water to boil for breakfast. The stillness of the water made for a perfect reflection with the jagged mountains in the background. Although this was my favorite photo, there were so many other beautiful views along the way in Sawtooth.
Best Adventures at Sawtooth National Forest
I would suggest that people do an overnight backcountry trip when they visit Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho. I highly recommend doing the Alice Toxaway Loop. There are many additions that you can add onto this incredible loop if you desire a longer experience. However, the Alice Toxaway Loop itself is sufficient for most visitors to the area.
For those seeking a higher adrenaline rush they can attempt to summit El Capitan (3,018m) on the southeast side of Alice Lake. Other enjoyable activities and adventures include fly fishing on the Salmon River, mountain biking through the forest and relaxing at one of the many local hot springs.
Staying in Stanley and Ketchum
When visiting Sawtooth National Forest, I recommend that people spend at least one night in Stanley, Idaho to enjoy more of a small-town feel. There are many lodges to choose from that are right on the river and offer beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. I also really enjoyed my time in Ketchum, Idaho – a beautiful small town with a cozy mountain feel.
Need to Know Before you Go
We arrived late at night in Sawtooth National Forest. As we were driving towards the trailhead, we encountered several animals in the middle of the road and came very close to hitting one. Be sure to take your time on this drive and watch out for wildlife! Also, this area is beautiful to visit in the Fall as Aspen trees are starting to change color. This makes for epic photos!