Stanley and Sunbeam both stand along the northern border of the more than 750,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area, which extends south for over 20 miles of untrammeled meadows, forests, and lakes and includes the headwaters of many major Idaho rivers. It also holds one of the nicest places to stay in the Rockies: the historic Redfish Lake Lodge (208/774-3536 or 208/644-9096, May-Oct., rooms $76 and up, cabins $138-598), seven miles south of Stanley on Hwy-75 on the east shore of Redfish Lake, which has rustic log-walled rooms in the main lodge and spacious cabins. The lodge also has a good restaurant.

There are two main visitors centers for the Sawtooth NRA: a summer-only one near Redfish Lake and the headquarters (208/727-5000) on the north side of Ketchum.

South of Redfish Lake, Hwy-75 switchbacks steeply up to 8,707-foot Galena Summit, which gives a grand view over the surrounding mountains before dropping steeply down toward Sun Valley along the headwaters of the Wood River. About 5 miles south of the pass, 20-odd miles before you reach the resort area, there’s one last stop worth making: Galena Lodge (208/726-4010), which dates back to the mining era of the 1880s and has been resurrected as a cross-country ski lodge, with food service, ski or snowshoe rentals, and the Sun Valley area’s most extensive system of groomed trails. The community-owned lodge also maintains four backcountry yurts ($100-165): tentlike structures with wood-burning stoves and bunks for up to eight people.