One of the more one-of-a-kind adventures to have in McCall is to visit the Burgdorf Hot Springs. Seriously? Yup! During the snowy months the only way to get to these hot pools is by either nordic skiing to them or by hopping onto a snowmobile. Since they’re nearly 25 miles into the wilderness we chose the latter. Don’t own a snowmobile? No problem. The folks at Brundage Mountain Resorts can outfit you with one AND if you want you can even get a local guide to them. Since this was our first time out there we decided to go with a guide to show us what’s up.
A Local guide to the Burgdorf Hot Springs
As we check in at Brundage Mountain Resort, we meet our guide for the day, Cody Fox. A true Local growing up in the region, his regular gig is with the Forest Service fighting fires in the Western US. He’s even been in our neck-of-the-woods when he battled the King fire in Placerville CA. In the winter though, he spends time guiding folks like us and manning the Brundage TV studio. Talk about a cool deal! Since we’re heading into the backcountry on snowmobiles, we suit up with our beacons, shovels, and probes. Like they always say about the backcountry… It’s always better to be over-prepared then get caught by surprise.
We get the Ferrari of snowmobiles!
All suited up, we head over to the snowmobiles. Talk about a total shock! We are outfitted with a pair of Ski-doo Summit snowmobiles. We’d gone snowmobiling before but normally their touring machines which drive like a 1987 Lincoln Towncar. Instead, we are on the Ferrari of snowmobiles. Talk about responsive and easy to ride. Revving out of the main area, we make a turn and ascend quickly towards the summit pass.
The Tale of Two Rides
With blowing snow and howling wind, we reach the summit and pass through the worst weather conditions of the day. On the other side of the crest, the wind dies down and becomes more comfortable. Pulling into a meadow, Cody asks us if we want to ride through some powder and play. Cody could tell that I was hesitating a bit. He gives me the option to hop on the back of his for a quick ride just to try it. “Sure!” What’s the worst that could happen? Cody hits the throttle and we zoom off into the untracked pow. Bouncing from side to side, we get face-shots turn after turn. It was a combination of snowboarding deep pow while riding a wild horse. Talk about exciting!
A lap on the Les Mans race course
From there it was time to descend to the valley floor. The route had tight banked turns which reminded me more of a Les Mans race course than a normal groomed trail. Navigating down the terrain is exhilarating and nerve racking at the same time. The snow and wind blocked our views of just how steep the drop-offs were on each side, which I appreciated.
Secret Idaho Pillows… Not Potatoes
As we pulled up to a certain segment of switchbacks, Cody stopped and pointed upwards. Where he is pointing is a perfect slope filled with bumps, rollers, and pillows that you would find in the Kootenays. With a smile, he says this is one of his favorite secret zones to ride. Making a mental note, I’ll be back another season to check it out.
The clouds part above the Burgdorf Hot Springs
Throughout the journey, swirling wind and snow battered our caravan. As we made the final turn into the valley, the clouds quickly parted and glimpses of blue sky peeked through. It was as if Idaho welcomed us to the Burgdorf Hot Springs. With snowmobile or Nordic ski access only, the hot springs felt as if we were deep in Alaska.
It’s getting hot out here!
The old weathered wooden buildings had character and charm not seen anywhere else on our trip and in the center of it all sits the steaming hot springs. A natural gravel-bottom pool filled with people enjoying a good soak and a few beers melts the stresses of life away, miles from the closest civilization. Heated changing rooms sit off to one side of the pool helping us change into our swimsuits without freezing from the wintry weather outside.
Local Freshies® Tip: Entrance fee to Burgdorf Hot Springs is not included with your snowmobile rental so carry a few bucks in your backpack.
Watching the snow fall lightly onto our heads in the steamy water, we asked if anyone could stay out here on the property. Cody told us that it’s only $36 to stay overnight in one of the cabins AND they include all the things you need to keep warm and comfortable, like lots of firewood! No electricity out here so bring lanterns and candles to get cozy. If there’s a meteor shower or you just want to get away from the city lights, this is the perfect place for you to check out.
After a leisurely soak, we change back into our snow gear and saddle up our iron horses for Brundage. Twenty miles in, zipping through the virgin forest and across the mountainous landscape, we arrive at the resort quicker than expected. Hopping off our steeds, we thank Cody for an amazing day. It was time to celebrate and try one of the local breweries.