The Sawtooth Valley is a scenic valley in the western United States, in Blaine and Custer counties in central Idaho between the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) on its west and the White Cloud Mountains on its east, with the Smoky and Boulder Mountains on the south. About 50 kilometers long, it is beautifully surrounded by the Sawtooth Mountains to the west, White Cloud Mountains to the east, Salmon River Mountains to the north, and Boulder and Smoky mountains to the south. It is the largest high mountain valley in Idaho and it has been inhabited by one or more wolf packs ever since 1998. The beautiful valley contains the headwaters of the Salmon River, the city of Stanley, and community of Sawtooth City. It is an awesome place that begs you to pull over, lock the car, and put some ground under your feet or a trout stream around your knees. At its picturesque heart stands the splintering crest of the Sawtooth Range, a chaos of crags, razorback ridges, and small alpine lakes and tremendous view of its jagged northern edge rising over a wetland meadow, stop at the Park Creek Overlook.
The SNRA offers many attractions i.e. biking, camping, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, and remarkable wildflower viewing. The best time to see the wildflower is in the late spring when the snow melts and the ground gets warms. There’re three sensitive plant species that are endemic to the Stanley Basin: Stanley Whitlow Grass, Guardian Buckwheat and Stanley Thalaspi. Furthermore; the endemic species, the SNRA is also home to an insectivorous species, Spoon-leaved Sundew.
Therefore; in order to assure the preservation and protection of the natural, historic, scenic, pastoral, fish & wildlife values and to provide for the enhancement of the recreational values associated there with the SNRA includes four mountain ranges: the Sawtooths, the Boulders, the White Clouds, and the Smokies. This region has more than 1,000 high mountain lakes and is the headwaters of 4 of Idaho’s major rivers: the Salmon, the South Fork of the Payette, the Boise, and the Big Wood.
The complete length of the valley is traversed by State Highway 75, which is also recognized as the Sawtooth Scenic Byway. Highway 75 enters the valley from the south at Galena Summit and exits to the north near Stanley. Moreover; highway 75 was formerly United States 93, which is now routed through Arco. Sawtooth Valley encompasses several large lakes in the SNRA, including Redfish, Stanley lakes, Alturas, and Pettit. The valley floor elevations range from just under 6,300 feet near Stanley to over 7,500 feet below Galena Summit. Elevations along the valley’s borders reach 11,815 feet at Castle Peak in the White Cloud Mountains to the east and 10,715 feet at Thompson Peak in the Sawtooth Mountains to the west. Travelers are treated to a scenic drive en route to the SNRA from any starting point. There are a variety of ways to reach the SNRA. Consulting a map source would be the best way to determine the easiest route.