Thursday, January 3, 2019

Stellar midwinter conditions in McCall! Five reasons to visit before Winter Carnival

Tubing at the Activity Barn (courtesy Activity Barn) 
Powder riding at Brundage on a bluebird day (courtesy Brundage Mountain) 
Hi all,

You'd never know it in Boise, but a whole series of snowstorms in McCall have created stellar midwinter conditions for alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snow-biking. Add hot springs to the list and you've got 5 reasons to visit the McCall area before Winter Carnival starts in the last week of January.

Wendy and I were fortunate to stay at our Cozy Cabin in McCall for almost two weeks over the holiday break, and that put us pretty close to heaven. Being winter people coming from Michigan (her) and Minnesota (me), we love playing in the snow. After multiple days of skiing, xc skiing, snowshoeing and snow-biking, my legs were crying "Uncle!"

Wow that's some deep powder! (courtesy Tamarack Resort) 
That's got to be one of greatest feelings when you feel so sated from doing the things you love to do with friends and family.

Lodging should be easier to find now that New Year's Day is behind us, so see if you can book a room/condo/house and enjoy one or more of the following activities in McCall and surrounding areas:

  • Tubing at the Activity Barn - No advance reservations are needed to go tubing in McCall. The Activity Barn is located a few miles south of town on a hill that provides an 800-foot exciting ride down the tubing lane. There's a lift that brings you back to the top. Dress warm. You can go it alone, or link up and slide down the hill together with your kids. Tickets cost $18/person, or $13 after 4 p.m. for 1 hour of fun. The Activity Barn is open on Fridays and weekends, and closed Monday-Thursday. See the web site for details.  
    North Valley Trail, south of the Activity Barn. Perfect conditions.  
  • Go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snow-biking on the North Valley Trail and Activity Barn trails. A lot of people are just learning about this opportunity, but you can use the Nordic trails at the Activity Barn and on the North Valley Trail for free (donations for grooming gladly appreciated). Snow bikes are available for rent at the Activity Barn or bring your own. The North Valley Trail runs for about 2.5 miles from the Activity Barn out to the southern trailhead on Heinrich Lane, so you can do a 5-mile outing in that regard, or you can jump on the Activity Barn trails and add 3 miles to the whole outing. I recommend both trails if you have time.  
  • Alpine skiing at Brundage Mountain north of McCall or Tamarack Resort west of Donnelly. The snow gods have been kind to Brundage and Tamarack, providing an excellent base for this time of year. Brundage has a 42-inch base at the bottom of the hill and 47 inches at the summit. One-hundred percent of the mountain is open. Tamarack has 31 inches at mid-mountain and 36 inches at the summit. Nearly all of the mountain is open. Tamarack is  operating 7 days a week this year. Both mountains are super fun to ski/ride. 
    Snow biking at JMR. 
  • Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Bear Basin, Ponderosa State Park or Jug Mountain Ranch. Dogs are allowed on all of the trails at Bear Basin and JMR, which is a bonus for us dog-owners. JMR also has excellent snow-biking trails and rental bikes. All three of these venues are worth visiting. All are scenic with diverse terrain, groomed xc trails, and separate snowshoe trails.  
    Bear Basin xc ski trails on a snowy day. 
  • Go to Gold Fork Hot Springs or take a snowmobile trip to Burgdorf Hot Springs. After all of the day's activities, it's time to soothe the muscles with a long soak in hot, natural geothermal water. Gold Fork is about 30 minutes south of McCall via the Davis Creek Road, south of Donnelly. Make sure you bring cash. It's closed on Tuesdays. Bring a suit and a towel, and you're golden. Non-glass beverages are allowed at pool-side. Burgdorf is open 7 days a week, starting at 10 a.m. each day. You can rent a snowmobile or go on a guided tour with Brundage Mountain to Burgdorf. It's a 25-mile trip on a groomed trail with optional off-trail sledding available along the way. I've taken my family on a guided trip, and they absolutely loved it. Make sure you pack a lunch or snacks for the trip.
    Main pool at Gold Fork Hot Springs. (courtesy Gold Fork) 
    There you have it! Hope everyone has a great year in 2019! 

- SS


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