From Desert Darling to Mountain Maven; My Trip to McCall

Written by guest blogger Katie Zinn.

Being from Phoenix, AZ means pretty much one thing during this time of year: I’m hot. No, not the flattering, attractive kind of “hot” but rather the 113°, everywhere feels like you’re living in an oven kind of hot. It’s brutal. Thus, when given the opportunity to ditch my scorching desert mountains for the cool, snow-capped peaks of McCall, I was all in.

Having never before traveled anywhere close to the Pacific Northwest, I was clueless on what to expect and thrilled with what I found out. Simply stated: I fell in love. McCall turned out to be the most gorgeous place filled with friendly folks and plenty to keep me busy. Whether I defined “busy” as whipping around the lake on a speedboat or reading a book with a glass of wine on the dock didn’t matter, both options were equally and readily available. As you can imagine, being from a city full of concrete, crowds and climate that (at July 1) feels like I may melt at any given moment I was in awe with all things Idaho and the small town charm of McCall. For anyone who has not yet had the privilege to make the trip to this gem of a Gem State city I urge you to consider it and offer you my must-do’s when in McCall:

  1. Spend some time on the shores. When planning your trip to McCall the place to stay has to be Shore Lodge, a city institution since 1948. Stepping through the doors was like stepping into the most fantastic cabin I’d ever seen. The warm environment, friendly staff and endless activities list make this resort the perfect place to experience all things McCall. Favorite parts about my stay include: fresh baked cookies by my bedside each night, eating popcorn while watching a film in McCall’s only movie theater, riding around town on the Lodge’s red beach cruiser bikes, enjoying an incredible pedicure at The Cove spa, touring around Payette Lake on a vintage speed boat and meeting guests while making s’mores at the lakeside campfire. If you truly want the Idaho experience, this place absolutely has it all.
  2. Take a hike. The summer season in McCall is short so when the snow melts enough for you to hit the trails, take advantage and take a hike up Brundage Mountain. Though known for its exceptional ski runs, Brundage also offers hiking trails that are both challenging and stunning. Surround yourself with pine trees and soak up some sunshine as you get your daily workout in on this lakeside beauty.
  3. Enjoy a meal (or 3 or 4) at the Lake Grill. After an evening flight and a two hour drive from Boise which, by the way, is a gorgeous journey, we were ready to eat and headed here first. Located at the Shore Lodge resort, the patio at Lake Grill sits on the breathtaking shores of Payette Lake. I happily enjoyed a fresh seafood Cobb salad alongside the sunset over the water surrounded by snow tipped mountains. Naturally we returned for breakfast, lunch and a few more dinners- with a view like that and incredible, locally focused-food, this place is a definite must.
  4. Take a stroll through the streets of Downtown. The city of McCall feels like a scene out of the most adorable Disney movie. With a law that prohibits chain restaurants and businesses from being established, everywhere is locally owned and operated. This makes for unique shopping finds, incredible home-cooked food and warm people that are happy to talk to you about the place that they love. My favorite spots include Foglifter Café for a fresh baked Heath bar cookie and McPaws Thrift Store that operates to fund their local animal shelter.
  5. Eat huckleberries in every form you can find. Huckleberries are a widespread local fruit, similar to a blueberry but a whole lot better. I ate them every way I possibly could and loved each and every bite. Get your hands on some huckleberry honey, huckleberry barbeque sauce, huckleberry martinis, huckleberry taffy, huckleberry popcorn… I could continue, but I’m starting to salivate.

My journey to McCall was simply magical, filled with unexpected adventure, much needed relaxation and plenty of new-found friends. If you’re looking to beat the heat this summer (as I know all of us desert dwellers are) just follow the river and hit the road north to McCall, Idaho. I’ll certainly be back and hope to see you there.