Stanley, ID – Shhh… Let’s Keep It Between Us

by Yasmina Platt
© Copyright 2023. All rights reserved!
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine June/July 2023 Digital Issue

Idaho may be known for its seaplane and backcountry flying, but one does not have to be a seaplane pilot or have a STOL airplane with Alaskan bush tires to visit Idaho. (Skis would be fun in the winter though.) Let me tell you about Stanley in Central Idaho, for example.

Stanley is in a valley surrounded by high mountainous terrain (the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains), although the airport is higher than its downtown area. Like several airports in the state, Stanley Airport (2U7) is owned and operated by the State of Idaho, Division of Aeronautics. It is not maintained in the winter, although it does seem like a great airport to visit with skis. The airport has one runway: 17/35, which is 4,300 by 150 feet. But there’s a trick… only the first 1,600 feet on the north end is paved…the rest is dirt. Keep in mind, the airport sits at 6,403 feet MSL (Mean Sea Level), so check density altitude and weight and balance prior to departure!

Stanley Airport is only 1 mile away (up the hill) from downtown. While a courtesy car may not be available at the airport, walking into town is definitely an option, as is a local taxi. During the winter, cleats/crampons/spikes and a snowmobile may be an even better option!

Stanley Airport does not have many facilities or amenities, but it does have a pilot shelter on the northwestern end. While the chart supplement does not say whether 2U7 offers fuel or not, I have seen an avgas tank at the airport before. Don’t count on it though…check first! The Idaho Aviation Association offers great, up-to-date information about the status of airstrips around the state.

Once on the ground, the outdoor activities are endless! Stanley is surrounded by over 1,000 miles of untouched wilderness. Here are some of the area’s favorites:

• The Redfish Lake area for swimming, hiking (up to the Bench Lakes, for example), snowshoeing, snowmobiling, camping, canoeing, and boating.

• Goat Lake for hiking or snowshoeing.

• Sawtooth Lake and Alpine Lake for hiking or snowshoeing.

• Alice Lake, amongst others along the way, for hiking and backcountry camping, maybe from Pettit Lake.

• Stanley Lake for hiking or snowshoeing, swimming, snowmobiling, Jeep-ing or ATV-ing, canoeing, etc.

• The Kelly Creek Loop for snowmobiling.

• Park Creek for cross-country skiing.

• Hot Springs: Boat Box, Sunbeam, or Mountain Village Resort.

• The Stanley Winterfest in February.

• Rafting or fishing the Salmon River.

• Learning history at ghost towns Custer and the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge.

• You are many miles from “civilization” as we know it, so stargazing is pretty great!

• Many, many miles for (regular) biking and off-roading in the summer and fat (tire) biking and snowmobiling in the winter.

Looking for wildlife anywhere and everywhere? Stanley, Idaho is the place to go.

The Stanley Chamber of Commerce website has more suggestions:

Even though Stanley is considered one of the coldest places in the country, winter is such a fun and beautiful time to visit.

Stanley has a few lodging options, but camping is also allowed at the airport, according to the 2023 Idaho Airport Facility Directory.

Let’s keep the Stanley secret between us! And, as the locals say, let’s also keep it weird!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yasmina Platt’s full-time job has her planning the future of aviation infrastructure for Joby’s electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft. She also writes an aviation travel blog called “Air Trails” (, in addition to articles on pilot destinations for Midwest Flyer Magazine. Pilots can locate articles Yasmina has written by going to and typing “Yasmina” in the search box, or by going to the “Archives” section, then “Columns,” then “Destinations.”

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