Stanley is located in northwestern North Dakota in Mountrail County (of which it is the county seat) about 50 miles west of Minot and 60 miles east-northeast of Williston. Lake Sakakawea lies about 25 miles to the south.
In addition to the big lake, a half-dozen pothole lakes are within a half-hour's drive to the north and northwest to accomodate hunters and anglers. Golfers have Stanley Golf Club, a 9-hole facility built in 1930, to challenge their skills. The 3,000-yard course has a par of 36 and is open to the public.