Down Time is the Best Time: Embrace the In-Between
November can be a tough month. The snow teases us, falling one day and melting the next. We eagerly wax our skis and snowboards waiting for an opening day still a month off. Instead of living for the start of ski season, why not stop and enjoy the now? Slow down and match the pace of this down time between big seasonal shifts. Here are a few of our favorite ways to take advantage of late fall in McCall.
Soak it Up
Rain, shine, sleet or snow, soaking in a hot spring is a favorite pastime in McCall. Spend a few hours or an entire afternoon in the restorative water. For easy access, try Gold Fork Hot Springs. Six crystal clear pools offer a perfect setting for a family soak. The top pool starts with 110 degree water which spills down into each subsequent pool, the temperature cooling with each tier. One pool offers a sandy bottom with shallow water perfect for the little ones. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the umbrella covered tables set along the surrounding decks. Changing rooms and restrooms are provided.
Directions: From McCall, drive south on Highway 55 for 17 miles. Past Donnelly, turn left at the marked blue sign. Follow the road for 8 miles to the resort. Open year round (road is plowed in the winter).
For a bit more adventure, we love Burgdorf Hot Springs. Step back in time at this rustic resort surrounded by the Payette National Forest. Natural mineral water flows into large sandy-bottom pool about five feet deep. You can also enjoy two small “hot pools,” a shallow area for the kids and a bathtub for one overlooking a meadow. The pools are open from 10am to 8pm for day guests, but open all day to guests who stay in the cabins at the resort. Keep in mind that during the winter, Burgdorf is only accessible by snowmobile.
Directions: From McCall, drive north on Highway 55 and turn right on Warren Wagon Road. Continue along Warren Wagon Road for approximately 28 miles. Turn right on Burgdorf Road / NF-246 (a sign marks the turn). Burgdorf is about a mile up the road on the right.
Want a more natural experience? Try Trail Creek Hot Springs near Cascade. Two rock and sand soaking pools are situated at the bottom of Trail Creek just off the paved road. Hot water flows from a fissure in the rocks and down to the pools along the creek. Cold creek water helps to control the temperature of the pools. The first pool is approximately eight feet by twelve feet and the second is about six feet in circumference.
Directions: From McCall, drive south on Highway 55 to Warm Lake Road just north of Cascade. Turn left on Warm Lake Road and travel 19.2 miles. Look for a large parking area on the south side of the road. The hot springs are accessible by a 60 foot long trail near the west end of the parking area.
Spend a Day at the Spa
Treat yourself to an indulgent day of relaxation and rejuvenation. Just a few minutes form your own front door at River Ranch are several excellent options if you are seeking a day of indulgence. Alpenglow Salt Spa specializes in Pink Himalayan, Hawaiian Red and Black Charcoal salts. When combined with massage, which helps detoxify the body by stimulating the circulatory and lymph systems, a salt treatment elevates your spa experience and leaves you feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. We love the Himalayan Salt Stone Massage and Scrub to get the full experience with this amazing compound. And you can even take it home with you. Alpenglow offers a unique “Scrub and Glow” salt bar where you can mix your own signature salt blend.
We also love the warm, homey feel at Spa del Sol and Shanti Yoga Studio. The spa and yoga studio has been offering clients a complete whole-body wellness experience for more than 16 years with services including yoga, massage therapy, skincare, body treatments, and (last, but not least) retail therapy. The most coveted treatment is the Spa del Sol Massage. This massage is hand-crafted to meet your specific lifestyle and wellness needs.
If you are seeking an experience that immerses you in both the natural splendor and adventure of Idaho, look no further than The Cove, An Authentic McCall Spa located in Shore Lodge. With offerings like nature-based massages, facials and body treatments that are performed using a holistic and organic skincare line, The Cove aims to meet the needs of both luxury pleasure seekers and active outdoor enthusiasts. While we love a single treatment, one of the best ways to enjoy The Cove is with a signature “Excursion” and combine multiple treatments into a restorative day.
Follow the McCall Ale Trail
We love beer in McCall, Idaho. Our beautiful mountain town is home to three craft breweries and as any local can tell you, they are amazing! The McCall Ale Trail offers a perfect opportunity to tour the beer scene and take home a commemorative pint glass at the end. There are four easy steps to the McCall Ale Trail:
#1 Get your passport
Pick up your McCall Ale Trail passport at the McCall Area Chamber of Commerce (605 N 3rd Street, McCall) or at any one of the participating breweries and restaurants along the trail.
#2 Visit 10 stops
Cheers! Enjoy a fresh, local brew. Keep in mind that each location may have minimum purchase requirements. Be sure to check out each brewery’s or restaurant’s hours when planning your route. Your passport never expires, so no need to do this all in one day (that might be a bit much!). Take your time and enjoy each sip.
#3 Get your stamps
Get a stamp from each brewery after enjoying your beer. Your server can provide the stamp when you pay your bill.
#4 Submit your passport
Once you have at least 10 stamps on your passport, drop it off at the McCall Area Chamber of Commerce office (located at 605 N 3rd Street, McCall) and pick up your commemorative McCall Ale Trail pint glass.
To see the stops on the McCall Ale Trail and plan your route, visit https://visitmccall.org/eat/mccall-ale-trail/
Food has a special way of marking a moment and plays a big role in how we celebrate. For an immersive dining experience, we love Rupert’s at Hotel McCall, the Narrows Steakhouse at Shore Lodge and Steamer’s Steak and Seafood.
At Rupert’s start with the Bacon Ranch Shrimp Scampi. Jumbo prawns are sautéed in garlic, wine and bacon butter then served hot with fresh baguette slices. For the main course, try the Seared Sea Scallops with sweet corn risotto or the Grilled Beef Tenderloin Filet set atop light, fluffy Idaho russet mashers. Save room for dessert and enjoy hand-crafted confections while taking in the view of Payette Lake.
Shore Lodge provides several stunning dining options including the Cutwater and The Narrows Steakhouse. The Narrows is a traditional Idaho steakhouse with a mouth-watering menu and more than 450 wines to choose from in the cellar. We like to start with the Ahi Tuna Tower before diving into the main course. Choose from a selection of choice cuts sourced from around Idaho and mix and match sauces and flavored butters.
Steamer’s Steak and Seafood is in the heart of downtown McCall and continues to delight families with their surf and turf menu. Try the Lamb and Trout or the Steak, Shrimp and Scallop Platter. Both bring a mix of harmonious flavors onto one plate. Pair a complimentary vintage with your meal. The knowledgeable servers at Steamer’s in-house wine bar, The Cork, can help you choose the right wine from their extensive selection.
Walk in the Woods
Mary Davis said, “A walk in nature walks the soul back home.” Sometimes, we don’t need anything more that a bit of fresh air to remind us why this place is so special. And River Ranch makes it easy to take a stroll through the trees. The best place to start is the North Valley Rail Trail. We love rail trails because they are wide and flat…a perfect place to bring the whole family and a gaggle of dogs or to take a few serene steps by yourself. The entirety of the Rail Trail is 3.5 miles long.
To the north, we like the Bear Basin Trailhead for its secluded trails that make you feel deep in the backcountry even though you are close to town. Mountain bikers may know this place the best, but every trail at Bear Basin is open to hikers and walkers as well (just be sure to share the trail!). For an easy stroll with lots of scenery, take “Baby Bear” from the trailhead parking lot then head north on the main road when you reach the junction. Take a left onto Blue Ridge Loop…this will connect back to the main road and take you back to the parking lot. This scenic loop has it all – solitary singletrack, great views and tall pines to meander through.
If a stunning vista is your goal, the best place for an easy walk is Ponderosa State Park. There are lots of ways to get to the famed Osprey Point Overlook. We recommend parking at the Lily Marsh Trail trailhead and taking that trail up to the overlook. This 3.5 mile round trip provides a nice afternoon adventure and great way to explore the Park by foot. If you don’t want to do that much walking, there is parking much closer to the overlook where you can take a short footrail to see the stunning vista.