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  • Tail Travelers

Dog-Friendly Idaho | Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Exploring the Sawtooth National Recreation Area completely captured our hearts with her flowing rivers, whispering pines, meadows, and the most beautiful turquoise lakes. This area is an outdoor adventurers dream and there is a little something for everyone in the family to enjoy.


We love to camp and made the Alturas Lake - North Shore campground our home for the week. This campground is first-come, first-serve. There is drinking water, picnic tables, toilets, boat ramp, and a dog beach on the west side of the lake.

There are plenty of places to camp in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, whether you want a designated campground or prefer more of a dispersed campsite. You can check out more campsite locations on Campendium, Hipcamp, Free Campsites or

If you are not interested in camping, you might want to consider staying at the Smiley Creek Lodge. They have cabins, lodge rooms, yurts and tee-pees to choose from. There is a $10 pet fee and they ask that you clean up after your pup. If you are looking for a true western experience, then Diamond D Ranch may be what you are looking for. They are an all-inclusive guest ranch surrounded by the Salmon River Mountain. They do allow dogs, sometimes, if the owner agrees to bring a kennel to keep the dog in at night. I would call to confirm your pets stay at the time of your reservation.


Fourth of July Lake is a great four mile round trip hike that everyone in the family can enjoy. You will turn down 4th of July Road and follow the dirt road for about 5 miles until you reach the trail head. You will hike on an easy, gradual incline along a stream. The lake is a breathtaking alpine lake that is crystal clear. We enjoyed watching the pups swim from the shoreline. If you want to extend your hike a bit more once you have reached Fourth of July Lake, you can continue on until you reach Washington Lake which would be six miles round trip.

Titus Lake is another great hike that is five miles round trip. This trail is close to Galena Lodge and will lead you to a beautiful emerald pool surrounded by pine trees and wildflowers in the summer.


Elk Mountain Loop is located at Stanley Lake and is 11.5 miles round trip ride. We parked at the trail head parking lot and started our climb on the Elk Mountain dirt road. You have a steady climb for about two miles and then hit the trail head from there. You will come across beautiful meadows, alpine lakes, and spectacular views of the Sawtooths. This trail is also open to hikers as well.

Another popular ride is the Fisher Creek Loop. It is a 17.5 mile loop and the signature mountain bike ride in the area.


There are plenty of alpine lakes, tributaries, and rivers to fish from. The access points are well marked for you to go and fish. If you like fly fishing like we do or want to give it a try, then I recommend stopping at Stanley Fly Shop. Make sure you ask for Tara. She is fantastic and will give you the low down on where to go.


Being from Minnesota, I am a lover of lakes. There are an abundance of lakes in the Sawtooth area. Here are a few of our favorites that we were able to enjoy.

Alturas Lake is great for boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and fishing. The boat ramp is located at the Smokey Bear campground. There is also a designated dog beach at the Alturas Lake Inlet Day Use area.

Petit Lake is located about two miles west of HWY 75. There is a wonderful day use area with a sandy beach. There is also a boat ramp, camping, and hiking. Dogs must be on leash.

Redfish Lake is a dream. I felt like I was in an adult version of the Parent Trap. The Redfish Lake Lodge has a firm no pet policy with their accommodations, however pets are allowed at the campground, day use area, front lawn, common areas, and their spectacular dog beach. Redfish Lake Marina has fun watercraft rentals to add some excitement to your day on the water and they allow dogs on all their watercraft's. We rented a pontoon boat for a couple of hours. Just four dogs and their two humans going for a stroll around the lake. After a day on the water, stop by the Lakeside Grill for a bite to eat, a tasty libation, or an ice cream. We loved this area so much.


After a day of hiking or biking, head out to one of the hot springs in the area. Our first pick was the Boat Box Hot Springs. There is a small pull-off on HWY 75 just past Lower Stanley. The hot spring consists of an old mining cauldron along the Salmon River. This will seat four people comfortably. To cool the water down, you can use a bucket to put some nice cool river water in it. About six or so miles down the road, there is also Sunbeam Hot Springs. There are four pools right along the bank of Salmon River. The hot spring water is piping hot, so having the river water flow through your pool makes it so delightful. On top of that, you have stunning views and the sound of the river to make it a peaceful soak.


Smiley Creek Lodge is the perfect spot to pick up those forgotten necessities. They have a great patio where dogs are allowed. We had dinner one night and also stopped for a coffee one morning. If you end up stopping in the morning, I recommend getting a Cinnamon Roll. While you wait for them to bake the cinnamon roll, you can enjoy a nice game of checkers. They serve it to you nice and warm and then to topped with a delicious orange cream cheese frosting.

Redfish Lake Lodge has a couple of dining options for you to enjoy. The Lakeside Grill is perfect for lunch or dinner after a day on the lake. The family, including your pup can enjoy the patio together while you enjoy the view of the lake. We kept the dogs back at camp and enjoyed dinner at Limbert's on our last night. It is a lovely, rustic restaurant with a delectable menu.

Stanley Bakery is a perfect stop to start the day. They have a great menu selection. There is seating indoors and outdoors. Dogs are not allowed on the patio, but there is a grassy area to the left of the patio where they can hunker down while you enjoy a home cooked meal.

Peaks & Perks is a great little coffee hut in Stanley. They have assortment of drinks, breakfast items, and ice cream. You can take it to go or enjoy with a view of the Sawtooth's. They are cash only.

After hiking or mountain biking the Harriman Trail treat yourself to breakfast or lunch at Galena Lodge. Pet are allowed on the back patio for lunch.

With so many places to explore in the Sawtooth area, you definitely will not have a shortage of adventures. We only skimmed the surface, but already know a few items to check off our list the next time we are there.

Waggin Tails, Happy Travels!

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