Payette Lake is a breathtakingly beautiful glacial lake in Idaho’s Long Valley near the Oregon border. Surrounding the lake is a popular year-round resort area. The main city is McCall, which lies on the southern shore. The lake is a world-renowned fishing spot for lake trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. Summer activities include sailing, canoeing, kayaking, wakeboarding, and water skiing. In the winter, the lake freezes over, and you can ice skate on its surface. Around the city of McCall and other nearby towns, you can also go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and sledding. Here are the most unforgettable places where you can book a vacation rental at Payette Lake.
1. West McCall
A few miles northwest of McCall is Brundage Mountain Ski Resort, which offers skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in the winter. During the summer, you can ride the chair lifts to enjoy the view or get off and ride down 20 miles of mountain bike trails. Close to McCall is Little Ski Hill, a great spot for skiing and snowboarding. Adjoining it is Bear Basin Nordic Center, which has trails for cross-country skiing. At the nearby Whitetail Club are a golf course, indoor tennis, and fitness facilities.
2. Central McCall
Along the lakeshore in central McCall is Mile High Marina, where you can moor your boat or rent power boats for water skiing, pontoon boats, jet skis, kayaks, and standup paddleboards. In the winter, the city center is the focal point of the annual Winter Carnival, a popular event that draws visitors from all over the country. Many local businesses create intricate ice sculptures for the occasion. Activities include snowman building, snowshoe golf, and a torchlight parade on skis. There’s also a special theater presentation at the Alpine Playhouse, a dance for teenagers, and a variety show for children.
3. East McCall
The McCall Golf Club, which has three nine-hole courses in a spectacular setting surrounded by forested mountains, is on the east side of the city, so don’t forget your golf clubs when you leave for your vacation rental. Adjacent to McCall on the northeast is Ponderosa State Park, a beautiful expanse of forest on a large peninsula that juts out into the lake. The park has trails for hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. You can explore the park on your own or with a guide. Birds you can spot include wood ducks, ospreys, bald eagles, and various types of songbirds. You can also observe wildlife such as moose, deer, bears, beavers, and foxes.
4. South McCall
At the southern edge of McCall is the Activity Barn, which features a special snow tubing hill. Lifts carry you to the top of padded snow tubes and release you to shoot down 800-foot lanes with vertical drops of 85 feet. When you get cold, you can warm up in a heated yurt. The Activity Barn also has a beginner’s trail where you can try out cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat bike riding.
5. New Meadows
The town of New Meadows lies west of Payette Lake in beautiful Meadow Valley. It’s small town ambiance and friendly atmosphere makes it a wonderful place to stroll and explore. Of special interest is the restored Historic Railway Depot and Museum, which has exhibits and photos that give you a glimpse into local history. In the meadows surrounding the town, you might spot moose, elk, deer, and other wildlife. Just two miles north of town is Meadow Creek Golf Resort. Besides its elegant golf course, the facility offers tennis courts and a heated swimming pool. Four miles to the north is Zim’s Hot Springs, where you can relax and unwind as you soak in your choice of several pools of natural hot water, one of which is Olympic-size.
6. Lake Fork
The community of Lake Fork is a few miles south of Payette Lake and directly west of Jug Mountain Ranch. During the summer, this facility provides miles of trails for mountain biking through forests of Ponderosa pine. There’s also a world-class golf course in a beautiful natural setting. In the winter, you can use the trails at Jug Mountain Ranch for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Lake Fork is also a gateway for exploring the wilderness of Payette National Forest.
The town of Donnelly lies 11 miles south of Payette Lake on the eastern shore of beautiful Cascade Lake. It offers convenient access to Tamarack Resort, a facility that offers hiking, mountain biking, zip line riding, and white water rafting during the summer. It’s winter activities include skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Donnelly also hosts Gold Fork Hot Springs, which has six natural mineral water hot springs set in rock formations and a special sandy pool for children.
The town of Cascade is on the southeastern shore of Lake Cascade, which provides excellent opportunities to fish for Coho salmon, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and perch. Nearby wilderness areas are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Kelly’s Whitewater Park is renowned as one of the best whitewater sites in the country. You can ply the swift-flowing river by tube, surfboard, paddle board, canoe, or kayak.
The town of Riggins lies in the Salmon River Canyon north of Payette Lake along Highway 95. The Salmon River, which runs right through the town, offers great canoeing, kayaking, and salmon and steelhead fishing so you can make dinner the catch of the day back at your vacation rental. The numerous trails in the area include the pleasant and relaxing Patrick Creek Trail, and the more challenging Seven Devils and Wind River trails.