I recently returned from spending a few days kayaking and camping near Stanley Lake. The destruction left by the March 31 earthquake was a humbling lesson in just how powerful of a quake it really was.

We left Thursday evening (June 18) and headed north to the Ketchum Valley just hours after Galena Summit was pounded by 10 inches of snow in a rare mid-June storm. We had two other people in our party hauling a trailer on Wednesday that barely made it to Alturas Lake Campgrounds. The snow had all but melted when we pulled into the campsite at 8:00 p.m. the following day.

I hadn't visited this region of the state in about eight months. The powerful 6.5 magnitude quake that hit a few miles outside of Stanley on the final day of March I had heard caused some major flooding around the lake and damaged some popular rock formations. I finally got the chance on Sunday (Father's Day) to witness its destruction first hand.

Greg Jannetta

A dirt trail we used to walk on that ran parallel to Stanley Lake's popular day park fishing and picnic area had completely vanished under several feet of water. Massive trees that stood dry for decades were now a quarter submerged, making land in the area now only accessible by boat, paddleboard or kayak.

Greg Jannetta

Following the earthquake, water from the lake flooded well into nearby valleys, producing a series of new wetlands. As I passed close to shore on my kayak I could see the trunks of the tress beneath me. It was a strange feeling, as I had grown very familiar with this section of the lake over the passed couple of years. I travel to this spot because a small inland in the area allows one to float just below the marvelous McGown Peak, which stands at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level.

Greg Jannetta

Don't let the recent flooding from the quake somehow convince you to avoid this beautiful lake. Stanley Lake is still the real deal for Idaho adventurers. I can't wait to go back and get some more kayaking in, and of course stop just down the road for a cold beer and some great pizza at Papa Brunee's.

Greg Jannetta
Enter your number to get our free mobile app