When looking for a skiing destination, one of the factors that typically comes into everyone’s mind: “Is there more than one ski area to visit?” The answer when talking about the cozy town on the shore of Payette Lake is a wholehearted YES! In fact, McCall Idaho skiing has the perfect amount of resorts big and small to fit everyone’s budget, plans, or vision of what they think a ski town is all about.
McCall Idaho Skiing – Covers All Needs
Within half and hour from the center of McCall, you have access to three vastly different ski areas. The closest is the Little Ski Hill which is only a few minutes away, offering affordable skiing and schussing under the lights. Less than nine miles away, you have the flagship resort: Brundage Mountain. Not just a ski area but rather a basecamp to outdoor fun such as snowmobile excursions to Burgdorf Hot Springs. The furthest away, but a MUST for all visitors, is Tamarack. This resort is now coming into a renaissance due to a new owner. Both Tamarack AND Brundage are a powder hound’s dream especially during mid-week. You’ll pretty much have each place to yourself. The best part is both of these offer lift-accessed backcountry skiing if you have the gear, knowledge, and fortitude to step outside into the wilderness.
The Little Ski Hill – For 1st Timers & Ski Addicts
As T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia said, “Big things have small beginnings” and the Little Ski Hill in McCall, Idaho is the greatest example of this. Founded in 1937 for local forest workers to recreate during the winter, this quaint area doesn’t have one or two Olympians but SIX who got their start here. Although it may only have a 405-foot vertical drop, it makes sure that every inch of it is maximized. They do this by offering night skiing, a legit terrain park, AND a kid-first attitude that families love. How do you know it’s good? By hearing the laughter and whoops on the slopes. If you’re looking for a fountain of youth or just affordable skiing, this place is it. How affordable? Well, an adult day pass goes for only $25 or hand out $125 and get a SEASON PASS!!!! College students can pick up a season pass for $95 and kids 5-17 can get one for $75.
Little Ski Hill Hours:
Tamarack Resort – Idaho’s ‘Untapped’ Ski Resort
Compared to other ski resorts throughout the country, the road to Tamarack isn’t treacherous. Heading due south from McCall on Highway 55, follow the massive ridgeline until you pass through Donnelly. We HIGHLY recommend making a pit stop here for breakfast at the Flight of Fancy Bakery. Besides serving tasty pastries and other scrumptious options, their baked oatmeal is the BEST oatmeal you’ll have anywhere.
If you pull into Tamarack’s parking lot mid-week, it will feel as though it’s your own private resort. Although it might have less in-bounds acreage than its cousin Brundage, the 2,800’ of vertical skiing will make sure your legs are screaming especially that you can lap the mountain without stopping. For those that have knowledge about the backcountry, the lift-accessed terrain is MASSIVE since the resort sits on a ridgeline making for easy pickings. That’s just a few of the many reasons you should visit Tamarack Resort.
Brundage Mountain – McCall’s Classic Resort
Last, but not in any way the least, Brundage Mountain Resort will always be near and dear to our hearts. Looking at the trail map and statistics, you’ll think that it isn’t very big or that it’s pretty mellow. Well, you’d be wrong. Just like all Idaho skiing, you have to look in-between the lines or rather in the glades to find the challenging stuff. For example, from looker’s left, the trails or rather “zones” of the Hidden Valley area holds some amazing steeps you’d find in places like Kirkwood. And if you have a few extra dineros in your pocket, we HIGHLY recommend booking a backcountry guided tour via a snowcat. At over 18,000 acres to explore, the snowcat tours will make sure you find some untracked pow to shred.
Although we’re focused on the gravity fed version, we have to give a nod to the McCall Idaho skiing version known as nordic skiing. Instead of an afterthought, cross-country skiing here is big. So much so that there are multiple nordic centers that maintain and manage trail networks. The jewel on the crown is Ponderosa Park. It’s located on a 1,000 acre peninsula that splits Payette Lake. Featuring heavily forested trails with rolling topography to ridge tops offering up spectacular views of the lake. The newest edition, opened in 2005, is Bear Basin which contains 30 km of trails to explore. You’ll also find trail networks at Tamarack Resort and the summer activities hot spot for mountain biking at Jug Mountain.
As the throngs of skiers and snowboarders head to busy destinations like Vail, Park City, or Whistler, you may want to consider McCall, Idaho for your next ski vacation. From consistent snowfall, thousands of acres of skiing, and fun winter activities like the McCall Winter Carnival, you’ll understand why we consider not just McCall but ALL of Northern Idaho – the last frontier of skiing. If you want to learn more about McCall like what’s there to do, what places to eat, and even insider tips on how to get there be sure to read our insider’s guide: