Spring Skiing has always been known for bluebird days, fresh powder, t-shirt attire, and après ski entertainment. I am here to tell you that there is no better place for this than the hidden gem, McCall, Idaho. It is known for its amazing skiing, snow boarding, Nordic snowshoeing, natural hot springs, wildlife, and stunning scenery. So this March, for my brother Blake’s 21st birthday, we decided to fly out to our Aunt and Uncle’s for a ski trip. We were not disappointed!
From the Boise Airport to McCall, it is about a two-and-a-half-hour scenic drive through the canyon and along the Payette River. The quaint city rests in the heart of vast mountain ranges and surrounds the stunning Payette Lake. You could not ask for more beautiful views, nicer people, and great ski town vibes.
We ended up skiing at the two most popular ski resorts in McCall, Brundage Mountain and Tamarack Resort. We were extremely lucky, because the night before our first day on the slopes IT SNOWED!!❄️❄️❄️ For dedicated skiers and snowboarders, this means getting up at the crack of dawn to make First Chair. Now you know I am NOT a morning person, however, as my Uncle Don says,
“Every skier is a morning person on a powder day.”
So on our first morning, I chugged down a cup of coffee, grabbed a Lime La Croix, put on my Head boots, Völkl skis, and Smith goggles, and hit the road. Read my reviews below on both ski resorts and on why McCall, Idaho is my ultimate spring skiing destination!
With a summit elevation of 7,803 feet, Brundage Mountain is known for its undisputed reputation for the Best Snow in Idaho. The mountain averages more than 320 base area inches of snowfall annually. The slopes are open daily from 9:30am – 4:30pm with 6 chair lifts, 46 named trails, 2 terrain parks, and 420 acres of unpatrolled/uncontrolled Backcountry Terrain. At the base, there is also a great ski lodge where you can get gear rentals, sign up for ski school, and grab food & drinks at the cafe or restaurant.
We skied at Brundage Mountain for 3 days and it was awesome! We had clear blue skies, warm weather, and great snow. It was the perfect way to start off our trip!
- No crowds! – McCall typically does not get a lot of tourists due its distance from Boise. This means that the slopes are basically empty except for the locals. There’s no chair lift lines and no fighting for space on the slopes. Just you, the snow, and the vast groomed trails below.
- Variety of trails for all levels – From greens to triple black diamonds, Brundage Mountain offers skiing for every level of experience.
- Beautiful skiing – There were open trails, tree-lined trails, and trails that overlooked the vast mountain ranges and canyons below. The scenery was incredible!
- Quick drive – It was only about a 15-minute drive from McCall.
- Ungroomed slopes – Although the powder skiing was amazing, the slopes were not well-groomed. Without the proper powder skies, the slopes were hard to manage later in the day when the snow was choppy.
Located in Donnelly, Tamarack Resort is about a 45-minute drive from McCall. It has a summit elevation of 7,700 feet, with 6 chair lifts and 45 runs. The resort is open from 9:00am – 4:00pm and offers alpine, nordic, backcountry skiing, and snowshoeing. Ski rentals, dining, and shopping are available as well in the lodge tents at the base of the mountain.
As a last-minute decision, Blake and I decided to ski Tamarack on our final day. We got there around 12:00pm and basically had the entire mountain to ourselves! There were only about 15 cars in the parking lot, including the staff. It was another powder day, so the skiing was amazing, the slopes were long and fun, and the views were stunning. We skied the entire day and even made it onto the Last Chair at 4pm. We had the honor of being the last people skiing down the mountain. It was the most incredible and surreal experience! The Erler Siblings took Tamarack!
- Great variety of slopes – From beginner to advanced, Tamarack offers skiing for everyone!
- Half-way Point – Tamarack has a half-way point up the mountain where you can either ski the trails down from there or take another chair lift up to the top. I loved this because towards the end of the day, it is sometimes hard to ski all the way down from the top! Gotta give the burning legs a break!
- Beautiful views – Many of the trails had points where the slopes opened up to stunning overlooks of the valley below. It is the perfect time to take a break (over to the side of course) and enjoy the breathtaking views.
- The Drive – The drive to Tamarack is much farther than Brundage! On snowy days when the weather is rough, this drive may be difficult to attempt and may take longer.
- Restaurants were not open – Several of the restaurants at the base, including the half-point one, were closed. Whether this was due to lack of crowds or lack of money, it limited the dining choices to one small cafe that offered only a few menu items.
Don’t forget to check out The Shore Lodge (Or as my Uncle calls it, “The Snore Lodge”😂) while you’re in town. It’s the perfect après ski spot for drinks and a snack after a fun day on the mountain! It overlooks the beautiful Payette Lake, the boating docks, and surrounding mountain ranges. It is definitely a favorite hotspot for many locals!
Summer in McCall
As the ski season is coming to an end, Blake and I were very happy to get one last trip in. We had incredible skiing and definitely consider McCall one of our top places to go! While we wait for the ski season to begin again in winter, I will be heading back out to McCall in the Summer. They have hiking, biking, camping, golfing, river rafting, kayaking, fishing, boating, jet skiing, and sunbathing. I don’t know how I’ll fit all of that in! If there’s a will there’s a way! Keep me updated on your ski experiences and where you recommend. Until next time, Ciao Ski Bunnies!👯