Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in McCall, ID

  • Published 2022/05/28

McCall, Idaho is an ideal destination for all seasons.

Located in the western part of Valley County, the town is a dreamy getaway surrounded by lakes Cascade and Payette.

Whether you want to dive into a refreshing mineral hot spring on a cold morning, tour one of the largest smokejumper bases in the US, go on a family-friendly bike tour, or listen to live music on a fine evening, there are endless things to do in McCall.

Did that get you excited?

Pack your bags and prepare your maps, because the town has a lot more in store for you.

These are the best things to do in McCall, Idaho:

Set Sail on Payette Lake

Boats on the shore of Payette Lake

Arne Beruldsen /

The stunning Payette Lake is a natural lake formed by glacial activity.

It spans 5,330 acres and drains into the Snake River.

The lake is elevated at approximately 5,000 feet and is specially designated for boating.

A cruise boat on the waters of Payette Lake

Rickmouser45, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visitors can enjoy activities like jet skiing, paddle boarding, and swimming.

In June, you can even sail on a cruise or attend events like the Payette Cup Regatta.

On the cruise, you’ll enjoy live music and breathtaking sunset views.

Aerial view of Payette Lake

Bryce Kanowsky /

Go Hiking at Ponderosa State Park

Daytime view of Ponderosa State Park

BlisfulBreeze /

Venture north of McCall’s central area, and you will find yourself in the region of Ponderosa State Park.

The park is a popular destination for hiking, camping, cycling, and picnicking.

In the winter, you’ll be able to enjoy activities like snowshoeing and skiing.

Hiking trail at Ponderosa State Park

Charles Knowles /

At Ponderosa State Park, you can expect to be welcomed by incredible scenic beauty, wildlife, and amazing views of Payette Lake.

The entire park is covered with pine trees, western larch, lodgepole pine, Douglas firs, and grand firs.

It’s home to wildlife like bald eagles, deer, beaver, and more.

Boardwalk along Ponderosa State Park's lily marsh

BlisfulBreeze /

Visit the Largest Smokejumper Base in the US

What are smokejumpers, you might be wondering?

Smokejumpers are firefighters who risk their lives saving trees from massive forest fires by jumping from planes.

The McCall Smokejumper Base is the largest and the most active one in the US.

On a tour of the base, a tour guide walk visitors through the place and let them in on smokejumpers’ rigorous training methods, activities, history or victories, and more.

Tours led by current smokejumpers can only be enjoyed by appointment.

Go Skiing at Brundage Mountain

WInter view of Brundage Mountain

CSNafzger /

Skiers and snowboarders, McCall is one of the prime destinations for you.

It is said that this quaint town receives the maximum snowfall in Idaho.


Pack your bags and come to Brundage Mountain Ski Resort.

Tourists willingly drive to this resort to see the snowfall and enjoy various winter activities.

A person skiing at Brundage Mountain

CSNafzger /

At Brundage Mountain Ski Resort, You’ll find around 46 named runs, two terrain parks, five lifts, and some unpatrolled backcountry terrains for experienced ski enthusiasts.

Are you completely new to skiing?

Don’t worry, as the resort has the necessary amenities for first-time skiers.

If you visit in the summer, this place is ideal for mountain biking or playing disc golf.

Ski lift chairs at Brundage Mountain

CSNafzger /

Play a Few Rounds of Golf at the McCall Golf Club

The McCall Golf Club offers a mountain golf experience to its visitors.

They have three courses with nine holes each: the Birch Course, the Aspen Course, and the Cedar Course.

This place is located close to Ponderosa State Park.

You can play and enjoy golf with some fantastic mountain views.

There are also some dining options here that you can check out.

Join the McCall Winter Carnival

A steam train-shaped snow during McCall Winter Carnival

CSNafzger /

The McCall Winter Carnival is the largest and most exciting annual event in Idaho.

It takes place in late January or early February and runs for about a week.

Undeniably the town’s most anticipated festival, the McCall Witner Carnival attracts more than 60,000 visitors from across the globe every year.

There are many events and features available for you to participate in and enjoy.

The carnival’s highlights include snow sculpture contests, snow bike races, parades, wine tastings, fireworks over Payette Lake, and a whole lot more.

Go Whitewater Rafting in the Salmon River

People rafting on Salmon River

Roy Luck, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thrill-seekers, how about adding some water-based adventure to your itinerary?

At the Salmon River, you can enjoy whitewater rafting, crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches, and deep canyon gorges.

The 684-kilometer river is considered the longest flowing river in the lower 48 states.

Calm rapids of Salmon River

CSNafzger /

Families can also enjoy rafting with kids under the strict inspection of tour guides and bay watchers.

If you don’t plan on going rafting, you can also sit at the beach or go sunbathing.

You can also join a guided tour of the canyons.

Explore the City Lights at Downtown McCall

Storefronts along Downtown McCall

Charles Knowles /

McCall’s downtown area comprises many shops and boutiques with countless offerings worth checking out.

It’s also home to Legacy Park, where you can take a lake cruise or spend a lazy afternoon lying on the sandy beach.

Go shopping, have a fine dinner at an authentic restaurant, and walk along the waterfronts.

Aerial view of Downtown McCall

Charles Knowles /

Treat yourself to some of the town’s best breakfast meals at The Pancake and Christmas House.

You can enjoy some of the most delicious pancakes, hash browns, omelets, waffles, burgers, and many more.

In the same store, you can also find all sorts of decors and displays for your house.

Learn Some History at the Central Idaho Historical Museum

The Central Idaho Historical Museum was built to educate the public about the state’s local history and culture.

The museum consists of artifacts and written and oral remains of the history of McCall.

Eight buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Out of all of them, the most prominent is the Fire Warden’s House, which was built in 1937.

It contains a great example of rustic American architecture.

Visit the Salmons at the McCall Fish Hatchery

While you can’t fish here, that doesn’t make this place the least bit boring.

McCall Fish Hatchery is a beautiful place that rears and preserves salmons.

In 1979, when dams were constructed on the Lower Snake River, it was a huge challenge to save the salmons, as a lot of them lost their lives.

McCall Fish Hatchery was constructed for this very reason.

There are a lot of private tour operators that offer hatchery tours, but you can organize a trip for yourself, too.

The best time to visit the hatchery is in the summer or the spring.

Cycle through Jug Mountain Ranch

Jug Mountain Ranch should be at the top of your list if you enjoy mountain biking.

Among the most incredible mountain biking tracks in the area may be found on the ranch itself.

You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of rides, from leisurely strolls in the woods to adrenaline-pumping climbs in the mountains.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s something for you to enjoy here.

Those without their own bikes may hire one from the ranch, which keeps the paths immaculate and clearly marked.

Enjoy Various Water Activities at Rotary Park

Rotary Park is one of the town’s most loved and well-kept waterfront parks.

It’s only a short walk from downtown McCall.

A lot of fun is in store for you in Rotary Park.

There are picnic tables, bathrooms, a playground, and a swimming beach in this beautiful park.

The shimmering lake that passes through its middle is its most notable feature.

Swimming, kayaking, and canoeing are some activities you may enjoy in this beautiful setting.

Go Ice Skating at the Manchester Ice & Event Centre

In McCall, the indoor Manchester Ice & Event Centre is a terrific spot to spend a few hours, from open skating to the quirky bumper cars on skates.

Here, skaters can enjoy recreational and competitive skating events.

Payette Lake and its surrounding snow-covered mountains can be seen from the grandstand seats at the ice skating rink.

Cool down at the ice arena during the sweltering heat of July, or think about going ice skating this winter.

Grab Some Fresh Produce at the McCall Farmers’ Market

Don’t miss the McCall Farmers’ Market to see where the locals get their groceries.

From June through October, you can stock up on some of Idaho’s best fruit at this market, which is open to the public.

It is the place to be in terms of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Aside from these, you’ll find a wide choice of handicrafts, household items, art, cut flowers, plants, and more.

If you feel hungry, many food booths sell everything from hotdogs and hamburgers to slushies and smoothies.

Sip Beer at Salmon River Brewery

Salmon River Brewery is the perfect place to wind down after a long day of work or play.

You may enjoy gourmet pub fare and an acceptable range of craft ales, ciders, and wines at this seven-barrel brewpub set in a picturesque setting.

Salmon River Brewery uses as many components from the surrounding area as possible to manufacture its award-winning craft beer.

This family-friendly eatery includes a rooftop and patio seating area with some of McCall’s most outstanding views in the summer.

After a day of skiing or snowmobiling at one of the nearby mountains, you may warm yourself by the outdoor fire pit.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Make Friends with Wild Elks at Hap and Florence Points Memorial Sleigh Rides

Want to spend some quality family time?

Enjoy the best sleigh rides of your life at Hap and Florence Points Memorial Sleigh Rides in Donnelly, just 25 minutes outside of McCall.

Depending upon the weather conditions and snowfall, you can enjoy horse-drawn sleigh rides and see the elks in their natural habitat.

The elks are quite comfortable with people and will run alongside the sleigh.

They also allow you to feed and pet them.

Relax at Gold Fork Hot Springs

Natural Hot Springs in McCall

CSNafzger /

Idaho is home to some of the best hot springs in the United States.

While a dip in hot springs is particularly relaxing in the winter, enjoying them in the spring season is another lovely experience altogether.

Donnelly’s Gold Fork Hot Springs is one of the rare hot springs open to visitors during the spring.

A 30-mile drive away from Mc Call, Gold Fork Hot Springs offers six mineral-rich warm pools for the utmost relaxation.

The hot springs resort is a clean and well-kept facility open all year round.

Camp at Lake Cascade State Park

Lake Cascade is one of the main attractions close to McCall.

Tourists often flock to this location when snowy mountains surround the natural lake in the winter.

Imagine camping on a lakeshore, watching the starry night with the white mountains surrounding you.

There are a lot of activities to enjoy in Lake Cascade State Park.

You can go boating in the gorgeous lake or sit along the shoreline and fish.

Want to hang out at a beach?

Two of the park’s campgrounds, Van Wyck and Boulder Creek, are located close to beaches.

Enjoy Water Activities at Kelly’s Whitewater Park

Aerial view of Kelly's Whitewater Park

Joshua Denniley /

Are you interested in taking an activity-packed side trip from McCall?

Just a 40-minutes drive away from the town, Kelly’s Whitewater Park in Cascade has some of the best options for you.

Surfers on Kelly's Whitewater Park

Joshua Denniley /

Paddleboarding, kayaking, rafting, tubing, volleyball beside the water, and many other adventure activities can be enjoyed here.

The best part?

The park has zero entry fees!

People riding boats on Kelly's Whitewater Park

Joshua Denniley /

Spend a Night at Tamarack Resort

Less than 40 minutes away from McCall, Tamarack Resort boasts luxurious rooms and exciting activities.

The resort’s amenities include a spa and several mountain biking trails.

Originally a ski resort, Tamarack Resort also has its very own zipline!

They offer tourist packages that include water-based activities in Lake Cascade and local sightseeing.

Final Thoughts

McCall is a must-visit for everyone who enjoys stunning scenery, miles of picturesque trails, shimmering lakes, and abundant outdoor activity possibilities.

This sleepy resort town makes up for its lack of nightlife by offering an abundance of daytime activities.

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