Idaho and the Sawtooth Mountains

Sawtooth Mountains

We wanted to explore the Sawtooth Mountains last year, but it was quite a trek from where we were staying. This year we rented a house right in Sawtooth City (which is not a city at all, just a group of houses and Smiley Creek Lodge/restaurant/cafe). It is in a designated dark park. The only problem is that our view has been competing with the smoke from area fires. Some mornings are very hazy and you can smell the smoke strongly.

View from the deck
Same view the next morning

We spent our first day in Ketchum. It takes about 45 minutes to get there up and over the mountain. The views are spectacular.

Views on the way to Ketchum

Ketchum is a lovely town with all kinds of places to shop. Right now they are hosting a big tech conference with all the billionaires. Sadly we did not see anyone famous that we know. Perhaps you don’t know, but Ernest Hemingway spent a good amount of time in Ketchum, ID and bought a house there in 1959. We stopped at the Hemingway memorial, tried to drive by his house, and visited his gravesite. The memorial seemed to be an area to rest if you were outdoors working out. We wanted to drive by Hemingway´s house, but it is a private drive. It was first given to The Nature Conservatory by his last wife, Mary. It is now owned by the Community Library and it is private. You can apply for a residency there and the library is working on how to exhibit some items from the home. The gravesite is easy to see and you can leave a memento if you are a fan.

Hemingway memorial and a person resting from her workout
His grave

We did some browsing in different shops, bought some souvenirs, and stopped for a beer at Sawtooth Brewery. I had a peanut butter porter nitro. It was divine. We were told by a local that we had to eat dinner at The Pioneer Saloon, but they don’t take reservations. It was a Friday night, so we arrived when it opened at 4pm and put our names on the waitlist. The dining room does not open until 4:30. We had a drink and immersed ourselves in the atmosphere. It is like going back in time. The walls are filled with animal heads, old guns, and pictures. The menu explains some of the items and one of them is a gun that was owned by Hemingway (he was a frequent diner/drinker there). Dinner was delicious. I especially enjoyed the Idaho baked potato.


We love seeing wild animals and we have seen quite a few pronghorns on our drives. We have also seen prairie dogs and ground squirrels everywhere. On Saturday morning there was a lot of haze/smoke and we left the house a little later than we planned, but it was 60 degrees. We drove to Stanley (about 25 minutes from the house) to try out a bakery. It was mobbed! Luckily, we were able to sample a cinnamon roll and croissant through the baked goods window and they were both delicious. We went to Stanley Lake and walked around the perimeter taking pictures.

Stanley Lake
Beach area at Stanley Lake

After our walk, we returned to Stanley to the Baking Company and Cafe. The line had receded a bit and we really wanted to try their specialty pancakes. I got their one pancake, one egg, one meat special and Jef got two pancakes, two eggs, and meat. He had the sourdough pancakes, which he thought were delicious. I had the oatmeal pancake and it was unreal. I keep thinking about it, to be honest. If you are ever in this area, I would highly recommend making a stop at this bakery.

On Sunday morning we were able to wake up earlier. We drove to Petit Lake and walked toward Alice Lake, since it went around the perimeter of Petit. We only hiked about a mile and a half of the trail, but it was narrow (we had to move to the side if someone wanted to go by) and very dusty. The views were fantastic and the weather was perfect.

The trail around Petit Lake
Beginning of the trail
View before we turned around

Our time in Idaho has been relaxing. We didn’t go overboard on things, but I would like to kayak one of these lakes next time we visit. Idaho does not get enough credit for the beauty and the wilderness that it contains. It’s not a state that many people talk about wanting to visit, but I think it is one that everyone should visit.

Photo by Jef of Petit Lake

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