Redfish Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Redfish Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Posted on August 29, 2017

Headed out from Rexburg

After the Eclipse we had no reservations and our plan was to go down to the Craters of the Moon and grab a walk up site to spend a few days. That was an easy 2 hour drive, piece of cake. 🙂

Well, when we got there it was swarming with cars. We’ve been to Craters of the Moon a couple of times and we had never seen it like this. But, it was too late, we had turned in. There was no parking at the Visitor Center and there was a line to get into the park. When we got to the gate, the attendant told us the campground was full and that there was no admission today. No wonder it was so crowded. So, on to plan B, which was only that we were going to keep heading to Sawtooth. Ha!

Picabo Angler Silver Creek RV Park

We found another RV campground through Campendium at Picabo Angler Silver Creek RV Park. It was only 35 minutes away and it gave us a spot to do some laundry (we hadn’t done laundry in over a week) and kind of regroup and figure out what we wanted to do next.

I called and they told me that we needed to make reservations online through Reserve America. That was easy, but, when we got to Picabo Anger we were confused because Google took us to the gas station and convenience store. We took another look and saw from Google Earth that the RV sites where across the street. So, we headed across the street. When we got there, there was a sign saying we had to go to the convenience store to check in. I felt like we were going in circles. Hahaha!

Since I had to do laundry anyway, we unhooked the car and I drove over to check us in and get the laundry started. They have one washer and one dryer (it cost us $2.50 per use), a gas station, fishing store, cafe, convenience store, and post office. The kids and I loaded the washer, then ordered food and got to eat while the laundry was being done.

Picaboo Angler RV Park

Picaboo Angler RV Park Picaboo Angler RV Park Picaboo Angler RV Park

While the campground is right on the road, we were surprised that the road noise was not too bad. The campground is well taken care of and it is only 35 minutes away from Craters of the Moon! They also have fishing tours which would be fun if you enjoy fly fishing.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Our original plan was to visit Craters of the Moon again so the kids could finally get their Junior Ranger Badge there, but, we decided to head to Sawtooth NRA instead. We figured because it was so crowded it wouldn’t be too enjoyable, maybe we can head there on our way down. We again used Campendium to plan out where to camp. There are so many boondocking/free camping options in Sawtooth! They have a 16 day limit in the area that we picked out.

16 day limit at some of the Free Campsites in Sawtooth

The first site that we picked out didn’t have any cell or internet, but, it was right next to a river. It was gorgeous!!! First though, we had to maneuver around the big mud pit! Plus, it was a little steep to get in. You can’t tell from the picture, but, our jacks under our rig barely cleared it going down.

we had to get around a big mud puddle in our site

Once we got down there and set up it was worth it! I could spend the full 16 days here if it were not for the lack of connection. It was nice to disconnect for a few days though.

Sawtooth Boondocking

Sawtooth Boondocking Sawtooth Boondocking Sawtooth Boondocking Sawtooth Boondocking Sawtooth Boondocking

Salmon River 2 (on Campendium)

After a few days at the first spot, we wanted to head up to Redfish Lake to explore. We drove through the campgrounds at Redfish Lake and they were pretty packed, plus our new mission was to try to find more free camping options so that we could stretch our budget. We headed out from the Redfish Campgrounds and found a free campground. This area has a 10 day limit for camping.

Sawtooth Boondocking

This FREE camping site had really easy access to about half of the campsites.

Boondocking in Sawtooth National Recreation Area Boondocking in Sawtooth National Recreation Area

The stream wasn’t as close as the one we just came from (you had to climb down a steep hill), but, it so close to Redfish Lake and the surrounding area.

Sawtooth Boondocking

The kids just wanted to spend all of their time at the river. The dogs thought it was pretty cool too!

Sawtooth Boondocking 

Redfish Lake

Redfish lake is beautiful! We went down to the lodge to attend a Ranger talk for the kids’ Junior Ranger Booklets. The Ranger was very informative and talked to the kids about the Salmon lifecycle. We also walked along the path along the lake and sat down to enjoy some ice cream from the snack shop.

Redfish Lake  

After a refreshing snack we walked along the Visitor Center’s Nature Trail. There, we were lucky enough to be there during Salmon spawning season. We watched as the salmon swam up the river. These were Kokanee Salmon and they were bright red. Some of them jumped up the dam and others found areas to swim up. We even got to watch a few get sucked back down, only to have to do it all over again.

Redfish Lake Kokanee Salmon at Redfish Lake

Kokanee Salmon at Redfish Lake 

Sawtooth Fish Hatchery

Right down the road from Redlake is the Hatchery. They have tours everyday during summer at 1:30. The kids loved seeing how the fish were being spawned and reared in huge raceways.

Sawtooth Fish Hatchery Sawtooth Fish Hatchery Sawtooth Fish Hatchery Sawtooth Fish Hatchery

After walking around the hatchery, we drove up the road to the Buckhorn parking area. There, we walked along the river and were able to spot a few Chinook Salmon spawning.

Chinook Salmon building her nest

If you can see the lighter and cleaner rocks, this is the Salmon’s redd (pronounced red) or their nest.

Chinook Salmon building her nest

This is a picture of a Chinook Salmon that is cleaning her redd. She is preparing her nest for eggs. It was the coolest thing that we have seen. To be able to actually see the fish swimming up stream and nesting.

Stanley Lake

Stanley Lake

We ventured down to Stanley Lake to check it out. What a beautiful lake! The kids enjoyed wading in the waters and we enjoyed sitting on the shore.

Stanley Museum

Stanley Museum

Ice House at Stanley Museum Ice House at Stanley Museum

Just down the road from Stanley Lake is the Stanley Museum. Stanley Museum is a former Ranger Headquarters and Residence for the Rangers, the building was built in 1933. They were having a Salmon Festival that day and we loved walking around the Museum, exploring all of the homestead artifacts. We learned about what life was like for the rangers back then. The kids especially liked the Ice House, where they stored their food before electricity was brought there in 1954.


Kids getting their Junior Ranger Badge

After the Salmon festival, it was back to the Redfish Visitor Center to get their Junior Ranger Badges.

We’re hearing about a few fires up in Glacier National Park, but, that is where we are headed next. We will see, as always we play it by ear and we can change our plans if it doesn’t work out.

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