by Henry Allen
Some winter vacation destinations have it all. The Western Idaho city of McCall is one of them. And you don’t have to be a black-diamond skier to appreciate it.
Begin your McCall winter getaway by checking into Shore Lodge, aptly named because it sits on the waterfront of Payette Lake. It’s utterly possible to spend your entire vacation without ever leaving the comforts of the lodge—and no one would blame you—it’s a sanctuary that will tempt you to sleep in, order eggs Benny in bed and round out your day with a body scrub and a wrap in The Cove Spa. But for those who manage to buck such temptations, the winter landscape and myriad attractions that await beyond the lodge walls will ignite your sense of adventure.
Whether you are a skier or snowboarder or none of the above, check in with the concierge at Shore Lodge for suggestions on a snow adventure that’s right for you. They can book your gear, and even a guide if one is needed, and send you out on the best snow trail or ski hill for your activity. Maybe you want to try fat-tire biking, snow biking or riding a snowmobile. Or go for a full excursion package like an all-day guided trip snowmobiling in the backcountry and then soaking your tuckered-out body in some steamy hot springs.
McCall gets more than 200 inches of snow a year, so whichever outdoor adventure you choose, you’ll have plenty of perfect terrain. Skiers and snowboarders: Head to Brundage Mountain Ski Resort, just outside of town, to play in what is touted as Idaho’s perfect powder (it gets 320 inches a year). And if you are not a skier or snowboarder, why miss out? You can explore the mountain via one of Brundage’s guided snowcat excursions.
Back in town, downtown McCall is made for browsing. Coffee shops, shopping, eateries and art galleries abound. An art walk around town to visit its 15 outdoor art installations is a fun way to pass the time. And who can turn down a visit to the stops on the McCall Ale Trail—just pick up your passport and visit 10 ale trail stops along the route to sample the local brews.
If it’s a winter celebration you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. After all, Munich has Octoberfest. Fairbanks has the Midnight Sun Festival. And McCall has its Winter Carnival in late January and early February. For festival lovers, this celebration is the place to be to celebrate all things winter. Events include a snow-sculpture competition, a Mardi Gras parade, arts and crafts, live music and theater, a beer garden, wine dinners and dozens of other activities at this ten-day event.
McCall is a drivable destination from most Northwest cities; it is located about 2.5 hours from Boise, 4.5 hours from Spokane, and about 7.5 hours from both Seattle and Portland.