Off the beaten path

Smilin’ in the Sawtooths


The Rocky Mountains, Atlas Mountains, Blue Mountains-there are some lovely and descriptively named mountain ranges out in the world. But Sawtooth? Just north of Ketchum, Idaho you’ll find the Sawtooth Mountain range, so named due to their jagged peaks. Once home to a booming gold and silver mining industry, the area now is more well-known for its outdoor activity offerings—and arguably some of the best “gold-standard” milkshakes in the world. 

Once a wintering area for indigenous peoples for centuries, the area around the Sawtooth mountains became a hotbed of activity in 1878 when Levi Smiley discovered gold. A small mining town named Sawtooth City was soon developed in order to house and handle the over 200 miners that would quickly settle there after the big discovery. Unfortunately, Sawtooth’s fall was as quick as its rise, with shaft tunnel problems and accidents causing the suspension of all mining activities by the end of the 19th Century. By the early 1900s, Sawtooth City was a ghost-town, but people would begin to flock once again to the region for a golden opportunity to check out the Sawtooth Mountain Range’s natural wonders. 

Resting along quiet Route 75, miners have been replaced with RVs at Smiley Creek Lodge. Currently run by the Crist Family, the historic lodge has been a home base for outdoor enthusiasts since 1953, providing lodging, sustenance at its restaurant, as well as gas for the rambling passerby. Like Levi Smiley, visitors to the lodge will discover a fantastic secret of the Sawtooth—an ice cream parlor full of mouth-watering ice cream and milkshakes famous around Central Idaho.

From prospectors to keen ice cream enthusiasts, the Sawtooth Mountain Range continues to evoke curiosity from the masses. While hiking, snowmobiling, and camping out at the Smiley Creek Lodge may not be as stressful as a 19th Century mine, be warned, getting a taste of the daily sell-out huckleberry flavor at the Lodge’s ice cream parlor may be!

Written By: Seamus McMahon

Log in

Need an account? Sign up

Sign up

Already have an account? Log In

Enter your email to reset your password

Enter your new password