Summer Adventures in McCall, Idaho  

by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

McCall is calling. Only two hours north of Boise, this mountain village has much to offer warm-weather visitors who want to experience the summer sensations of high-country recreation. 

The Sound of Music

Listen to the hills come alive with the sound of music and enjoy the scenic beauty of the iconic Summer Music Festival at Roseberry, produced by The McCall Folklore Society. 2023’s dates are July 13, 14, and 15.

“The McCall area hosts three other free weekly outdoor concert series during the summer months,” states McKenzie Kraemer, McCall Chamber of Commerce spokesperson. “The lakefront Ponderosa Center hosts ‘Tuesdays at the Terrace’ concerts from mid-June to late-August. Brundage Mountain’s TGIF Concert Series is offered on Friday evenings from late June through early September, and Tamarack Resort hosts free weekly summer concerts on Thursday evenings all summer long.”

The Scenic Paddle

Meander the waterways of the wild and scenic Payette River by canoe or kayak. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the white sand beaches of the gentle tributary. The Upper North Fork is a designated “no wake zone” that features wildlife and a wilderness experience. Look for moose, deer, elk, otter, mink, eagles, osprey and more alongside the peaceful waters. Besides canoe and kayak rentals, Backwoods Adventures also offers guided tours with naturalists, kayak lessons and even a kids’ “learn to kayak” program.

Golf, of course

Bring your clubs or rent a set and practice your swing at one of the valley’s best kept secrets.  The uncrowded serenity and peaceful beauty of the public golf course at Jug Mountain Ranch soothes your spirit from the first tee with its spectacular views. Terrain ranging from dry desert sage to wetland/lake habitats, wide open meadows and secluded forests challenges the golf enthusiast. Jug Mountain Ranch offers natural beauty, coupled with quality design. After 18 holes, relax on the patio or in the clubhouse and enjoy the view while dining on delicious homemade dishes and desserts. A great bargain awaits with weekend green fees of only $60 for 18 holes after 3:00 p.m.

Bike the Mountain

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing ride in a gorgeous setting, or an adrenaline rush at high altitude, you can find it mountain biking on Brundage Mountain. Their high-speed chairlift whisks you to the 7,640-foot summit, and the rest is up to you. With more than 30 miles of hand-built single-track trails, there’s a route to fit every experience level. Beginners can work out the kinks on the scenic Elk Trail, which gently winds its way down through scenic forests and meadows. Extreme thrill-seekers can test their mettle on Hidden Valley, a technical route that takes full advantage of gravity’s pull.

“Two new trails that wrap around the backside of the mountain will appeal to cross-country riders,” states Brundage Mountain spokesperson April Whitney. “Rock Garden and Lakeview Vista traverse talus slopes, wildflower meadows and offer stunning 360-degree views of the Payette Lake and surrounding peaks.”

With access to hundreds of acres of Payette National Forest and a vertical drop of 1,640 feet, mountain biking at Brundage is sure to satisfy your sense of adventure. Bike rentals, including helmets, are available from Kona and Rocky Mountain bike rentals on site. 

Get Hooked on Wildlife

McCall is at the southern tip of Payette Lake, a mitten-shaped 6-mile-long crystal jewel surrounded by 7,000-foot peaks. While fishing for trout or salmon, keep an eye out for bald eagles, osprey, moose, beaver and a rare Long Valley resident—the great grey owl. Search for Sharlie, Payette Lake’s “Loch Ness” monster, first sighted in 1920. 

When You Go