Winter Carnival in McCall, ID

For the perfect snowy getaway, head to McCall, Idaho, a town that truly takes advantage of all the winter months have to offer. McCall and the surrounding Salmon River Mountains are home to countless opportunities for winter recreation, but this small town of just under 3,000 residents is perhaps best known for its annual Winter Carnival.

Inspired by the Payette Lake Winter Games in 1924, the McCall Winter Carnival began in the 1960s and now brings more than 60,000 people to the area each year. The carnival kicks off with the Children’s Torchlight Parade which marches through the streets of downtown McCall on the way to Payette Lake for a massive fireworks display. The remainder of the weekend features a snow and ice sculpture carving competition, live music, food and drink and a variety of winter games. Check for dates and more details.

If you can’t make it for the carnival, don’t worry—McCall is a magical winter wonderland the whole season. The nearby mountains see an average of 320 inches of snow a year and the fresh powder draws professional and novice skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers from around the country.

Outdoor enthusiasts in the area can head to Brundage Mountain Resort for a variety of winter sports. The famous ski mountain offers over 1,900 acres of lift-accessible terrain, nearly 50 groomed trails and plenty of options for backcountry exploring.
Not a downhill skier or snowboarder? Head just south of McCall to Brundage’s Activity Barn and hit the slopes on an innertube or take advantage of the free 3-mile snowshoe and cross-country ski trail. Warm up and refuel with a pulled pork sandwich and a seasonal craft brew.

If snowmobiling is more your style, Brundage Mountain offers equipment rentals as well as half- and full-day excursions on more than 540 miles of some of the best-groomed trails in the country. These guided trips explore the rugged wilderness surrounding McCall, and lead to scenic destinations such as Burgdorf Hot Springs and Granite Lake. The full-day excursions even provide the chance to dine in a wood-fired yurt in the forest—a truly unforgettable experience.

After a long day outside, retire to Shore Lodge. This well-known hotel is tucked against the banks of Payette Lake and is a rustic yet luxurious escape in the alpine forest surrounding McCall. Check into a lakefront room or suite and enjoy a quiet, cozy evening while the snow falls outside.

For a relaxing morning or afternoon, book a session at the Cove, the lodge’s wellness spa. Enjoy a full-body massage, a clarifying facial and a soothing soak in both indoor and outdoor saltwater immersion pools.

Work up an appetite on the slopes? Shore Lodge offers several dining options. Bite into a house burger or a filet of Pan Seared Pacific Wild Salmon at Cutwater, or dine at the newly renovated Narrows Steakhouse.

With so many activities and amenities, it’s easy to see how McCall could be a good vacation destination for a week or longer. But if you can spare even a few days to hit the ski slopes, explore the backcountry or celebrate winter during the carnival, you will surely be able to appreciate this special, snowy town.


>> McCall Tourism,
>> Brundage Mountain,
>> Shore Lodge,


Nothing says “cozy” quite like sipping a steaming cup of coffee or mug of tea on a chilly winter morning. Luckily, McCall has several local coffee shops and roasteries guaranteed to warm you from the inside during the snowy months. Here are three of our favorites:
Fogglifter Cafe, located on the corner of Railroad and 3rd, serves coffee and espresso drinks made with fresh Idaho-roasted beans from Landgrove Coffee.
North Fork Coffee Roasters is a small-batch, women-owned coffee roasting company. Stop into the roastery on Colorado Street to try the Osprey dark-roast blend or the lighter Kingfisher roast.
Mountain Java serves coffee and espresso drinks brewed with Cafe D’Arte beans. The shop also sells Marich candies and Chocolove chocolates, handmade mugs and other locally made art.