Winter: the season between autumn and spring; the coldest part of the year and often a period of inactivity. Wintertime is always bittersweet. The cold temperatures start to wear on even the most patient of us, waiting for the dull, gray sky to break. An icy cage engulfs the area without a hint of sun for weeks. Some days it feels like the inversion will never go away. But then there are the winter activities that brighten up the days: snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice skating. The list goes on and on.
In particular, one great thing to do in southwest Idaho this time of the year is attending Winter Carnival in McCall, Idaho. The small lakeside town transforms into a winter wonderland with prize winning ice sculptures built on street corners in addition to food trucks, lakeside vendors, horse-drawn carriage rides and a week long list of activities to keep winter enthusiasts entertained. If you’ve never been to McCall, it’s a beautiful drive from Boise and one of the best places, at least right now, to escape the inversion and enjoy the blue sky and sunshine waiting up above.
Although snow levels fluctuate from year to year, the town of McCall always manages to valiantly attract visitors to the carnival by enlisting artists to create snow and ice masterpieces. The 2014 theme for the carnival is the “World of Wonders.” As a result, sculptures depicting everywhere from Machu Picchu to Niagara Falls to under the sea are on display. This year’s grand prize winner portrayed a scene straight from Eqypt by constructing a towering snow and ice pyramid guarded by with a Pharoah’s head at the entrance.
Some of the other notable snow and ice scultures depict a stream full of icy fish, a lumberjack, a penguin family, and a giant whale next to a bear.
If you prefer to stay away from the crowds, it’s also fun to drive down Warren Wagon Road to catch a different view of the snow-covered lake.
At the end of the day, choose from one of the delicious eateries in town to fuel up before heading home or stay overnight at one of the many hotels or vacation rentals.
Each year, the Winter Carnival in McCall occurs during the last weekend of January through the 1st weekend of Feburary. This year’s carnival is still going on, but it ends on February 2nd, so get up there while you still can!
- If you’re traveling north into town, take a left on Deinhard Lane, which turns into Boydstun Street and reconnects with Highway 55 , to avoid the downtown traffic and for quicker access to the ice sculptures on the west part of town.
- Also consider parking in the parking lot at Ridley’s Grocery Store at the corner of Deinhard Lane and Highway 55 to walk downtown and avoid being stuck in traffic.
- Visit the McCall Chamber of Commerce for more info.
Good Places to Eat in McCall, ID:
- My Father’s Place (One of my favorite places in town) – 901 N. 3rd St. McCall, ID 83638
- The Pancake and Christmas House – 501 N. 3rd St. McCall, ID – (http://www.mccallpancakehouse.com/)
- Growler’s Pizza and Grill – 209 N. 3rd St. McCall, ID – (http://growlerspizza.com/)
- Stax Sandwiches – 802 N. 3rd St. McCall, ID
- Lardos Grill and Saloon – 600 W. Lake St. McCall, ID 83638 – (http://www.lardogrillandsaloon.com/ordereze/default.aspx)