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By Jonny Conger

It was 10:30 p.m. as we pulled into the Redfish Lake campgrounds near Stanley, Idaho (about a 9-hour drive from the Portland, OR, Escape Camper Vans rental site). The trip was how most of my trips go: fairly spontaneous and not too well planned. My girlfriend and I happened to have two days off in a row and we decided to make the most of it by taking a winter weekend getaway.

Redfish Lake was on my must-see list while living in Idaho temporarily, but it had to be soon because the lake closes due to snow every winter. I checked the forecast and it said it would snow in the morning, but I wasn’t expecting it to start snowing on our drive there. Elk crossed while the snow fell heavily on the already snow packed road from a few days before.

Winter weekend getaway in the Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

We were car camping, so when we arrived we organized our belongings in the front seat so we could make the bed in the back of my Forester. Delaney helped and, of course, I had some beer in the process. There’s just something about a cold beer in the snow during a winter weekend getaway.

When I woke up and couldn’t see out of the snow-covered windshield. It must have dumped six inches of the freshest powder ever overnight. Being from Northern California and not getting much snow at home, I always get excited being around it. There’s something about how calm and quiet it makes everything. Fortunately, there wasn’t much more snow otherwise the Subaru might not have made it.

This clear, high altitude lake sitting at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains looks like something you’d see in Canada. We spent the day exploring the area and drove 15 minutes north to Stanley, which is the closest town to the lake. Stanley is small with a population of around 70, but it has the essentials if you end up needing something during your winter weekend getaway.

Once we got back to Redfish, we found a cool beach. I dug out an area of snow and I set up a campfire while Delaney painted the beautiful Sawtooths that fence the western side of the lake. We were the only people there, probably because most people do their majority of camping in the warmer months. We cooked some hotdogs and enjoyed sitting by the fire but quickly retreated to the warmth of the car after sunset.

The second night was much colder than the first. I did manage to grab a long exposure of the stars reflecting off the lake. We couldn’t stay outside too long as the temperature dropped quickly down to a low of 9 degrees that night and I couldn’t feel my hands.

Although the lake would be nice to experience when it is warmer, I’m glad we were able to experience this gorgeous lake all by ourselves, and you just can’t get that in the summer. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere which is every camper’s dream.

Plan Your Winter Weekend Getaway Today

Looking to plan your winter weekend getaway? Book your Escape camper van today to explore the best places in Idaho. You will not want to miss out on these beautiful views and the peacefulness.

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