RV’ing AND Skiing all in Winter in McCall
After 3 consecutive winters in the small, isolated community of Steamboat Springs, I decided to spend this winter in an even smaller (and more isolated!) town… McCall, Idaho, population about 2900. How remote is McCall? Well, the nearest movie theater is about 30 miles, the nearest Walmart is over 100, and there is literally one road in from the south, and one road in from the west, that’s it!
But… McCall is a town with charm – and – a GREAT RV Park (open all winter) – and a GREAT Ski Area – Brundage!
Lets start with the RV Park – McCall RV Resort …
The McCall RV Resort is a beautiful full service – full year campground. The camping pads are all paved, and full hookups work (and worked well) all winter. As a full timer now for 4+ years, I can honestly say this place deserves its “resort” name. There is a large INDOOR pool, hot tub, steam room, workout facility that is open daily – and even attracts community residents (for a fee), but is available at no extra fee to those staying at the resort. It is far from “over utilized”, so, most evenings, you’re nearly alone as you enjoy the soothing jets in the hot tub, or nearly 120F temperatures in the eucalyptus filled steam room. (More details can be seen and discovered in the video below)
Winter is a GREAT “second season” to visit McCall
Why a “second season”? Well, “prime time” for McCall is summer, but winter is far from “off season” – all the shops and restaurants (and there are some very good ones) are open; roads are well maintained; and the opportunity for LOTS of outdoor recreation exists – and the weather cooperates! This includes SKIING, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, ice fishing, and more.
The town borders on National Forest and State of Idaho park lands. Ponderosa, a beautiful State Park borders the town as well as Payette Lake. Ponderosa has MANY RV campsites but is not open in the winter. The park remains open all winter for cross country skiing (along with Bear Basin and Jug Mountain).
My video details many of the local businesses – links for several can be found below the video.
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McCall: Highlighted Restaurants and Businesses
There are many fine businesses in town, and as this is my first season, I certainly have not visited them all. Of those I have, I can suggest the following:
For a good (or even great!) lunch sandwich: Evening Rise, Stax or Salmon River.
For a burger: My Fathers Place
Mexican Food: Pueblo Lindo
Italian Food: Blue Moose
Ski equipment, rentals, custom boot fitting: Home Town Sports
Coffee Shops: Mountain Java, TJ’s, FogLifter
Breakfast: Pancake House
But the MAIN reason I came to McCall was…
SKIING at Brundage Mountain
I first learned about Brundage Ski Resort while camp hosting in 2014 at Dworshak State Park near Orofino, Idaho. Throughout the summer of 2014, I spoke with many campers about Idaho skiing. I was actively considering several ski resorts I knew of in the state as a possible location to spend the winter and ski instruct. I knew of Sun Valley, Scheweitzer, and Grand Targhee (yes, its in Wyoming, but you access it from Idaho and would live in Idaho if you wish to ski there all winter) – all great hills, each with a great ski school as well. The one I had NEVER heard of – but was talked up by virtually every camper who had been there was Brundage!
After speaking with the ski school director, I joined the Brundage ski school at the beginning of the 2015-2016 ski season, and have found Brundage to be a hidden gem. Enjoy the video, then read on for additional commentary…
Brundage has perhaps MORE gladed (off-piste, tree skiing) than Steamboat (who boasts tons of tree skiing and twice the acerage of Brundage), however 1500 acres makes Brundage already of formidable size – with plans in the works for additional expansion! The 1800 ft. vertical at Brundage is a REAL 1800 ft – not broken up by large terraces or whatnot.
“If you can see it, you can ski it” was the motto from day 1 – lots of off-piste terrain, generally great quality snow – and UNCROWDED slopes! Even at Christmas, lift wait times were minimal (to non-existent on some lifts). (I know some locals don’t want me to share this!!)
Brundage is also in a “sweet zone” between the super wet (cement) snow that falls north and west, and the spottier (but drier) snow that falls farther east. In other words, Brundage is high enough (peak 7640 ft) yet close enough to the Pacific to get generous moisture – and the snow is often of a powdery nature – perfect for on trail and OFF trail skiing for much of the season.
Now that I’ve nearly completed my first season instructing at Brundage, I can say there are still spots on the mountain I have yet to explore, and I look forward towards “cutting my teeth” in more glades, gullys, and steeps next season! Considering a visit to Brundage? There are several good hotels and motels in town. The mountain has no on site lodging, but there is a free shuttle that runs from town to the mountain 3x daily each morning and afternoon. The mountain road is also well maintained, and there is (usually) ample parking right next to the slopes – part of the parking lot even serves as a giant tailgate area for locals who want to bbq as they enjoy trees and fresh powder!
In closing, as always THANKS for reading/reviewing this post. Got comments? Please share’em below! There’s lots of other articles on How to Spend Winter in a RV, Solar Power for your RV, or other GREAT places to visit and explore.
6 thoughts on “Winter in McCall Idaho – Brundage Ski Resort”
Alan can you leave me your email so i can ask you some questions? Thank you Bobby —
I was browsing around looking for information about Mccall and found you. Writing from our travel trailer out of Bear Basin, actually! After spending 15 years in CO, my husband and I took a chance on Idaho. We live in Driggs, but are looking at Mccall for this upcoming ski season. Would love to pick your brain! Although Teton Valley is stunningly beautiful, we had a hard time with the winter weather at Targhee. It was so foggy that you couldn’t see your feet most of the time and we can’t handle not seeing the sun from November through March. I see you lived in CO too and know about the sunny winters! How are winters in Mccall? Are they dreary, foggy, always overcast? How do winters in Mccall compare to, say, Steamboat? I see you loved Brundage; from your description it certainly sounds like a hidden gem! Another plus for us is the whitewater access! We love the people and the lack of crowds in Idaho and are hoping to just do a little fine-tuning instead of running back to the familiar (CO; if we returned it would be to Pagosa Springs). Thanks a lot! Maybe we will see you on the slopes if we decide to migrate this way!
Brundage is in a zone that is not as foggy as Schweitzer to the north; and while clouds do dominate, there are a fair share of sunny days. The snow quality is not as dry as Targhee, and it is not as cold as Driggs. The coldest day last winter was about -11F. Some of the snow was wetter than I’d care for, but there were also amazing powder days – and the slopes/trees are NEVER crowded. The campground is about 10 miles from the slopes and 1 mile from “downtown”, with very sufficient restaurants and cafes. Let me know if you decide to head out that way – I’ll be arriving around Nov 15 (earlier if the weather turns rough.)
Thanks for the video! I didn’t even know it was an option out there for a RV park in the mountains that’s open year round. Definitely adding to my life goals.
Bobby, there are actually several. I’m going to create a post that highlights the ones that exist and details costs and such.