Travel Diary: McCall, Idaho

Wow. I never thought I’d be doing a little recap on Idaho.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always wanted to visit all 50 states at some point in my life… But I’ve always pictured myself doing so during a grand ole road trip I would have planned out. And probably living ‘that van life’ I always wanted to experience. Regardless, it was still a blessing to be able to go and overall a really nice trip.

LAX – SLC

On October 17th, we woke up not-so-bright and early at the awful hour of 3 in the morning to grab breakfast, drop off our car, and catch our 7:20 AM flight out of LAX. I love mornings and getting up at any hour to go to the airport, but 3 AM was a challenge– especially when I only banked about 2-3 hours of sleep… Unfortunately for me, I’m quite indecisive and tend to overthink what needs to be packed versus what can actually fit.

We had a short layover in Salt Lake City, Utah before flying into Boise, Idaho. Flying in and out of SLC was incredible. It was my first time ‘there’ (considering I never left the airport) and the views of the great lake, surrounding mountains, and city were just stunning. I’m glad I was awake to see it all since I rarely sleep on planes no matter how long the flight, but that’s a thought for another post.

View of SLC, UT
View of SLC, UT

SLC – BOI

After landing in Boise, we rented a car, grabbed lunch and coffee, and stopped at Cabela’s before a 2 hour drive north.
On the way, it was definitely as I expected and actually looked like California in some parts until we started gaining elevation. The closer we got to McCall, the prettier the surrounding area became. A chunk of the road even wound with the Payette River and was encompassed by green and yellowing pine trees on both sides. 2 hours and something miles later, we had arrived at our home for the week approximately 12 hours after departing LAX.

So… What Exactly Did We Do? In… Idaho?…

What: Fishing
Where: North Fork Payette River and Salmon River

Well… 3 out of the 5 full days we were there, we went fishing for mostly trout with prospects of salmon and small mouth bass.
On the first and last full days of the trip, we drove down to the North Fork Payette River and fished at the same spot. We were fortunate enough to find a little beach off the side of the road where we could park and fish for hours. All the guys were quite successful in catching fish on both days, but I can’t say much myself. On the first day, I kind of caught one? But I technically caught my first line which caught a fish, but then got snagged. I never got to bring it in, though. *sad face.
We went to Salmon River on Monday and instead of the side of a road, we got to spend the whole day in a nice car camp. With a bathroom. Thank goodness, a working bathroom which was also clean. So we parked the trucks and walked down to the river right below it. Not so lucky on fish, but the sunset was a beaut and the overall day was a sweet one by the water.

What: Biking Around Town and then some
Where: Ponderosa State Park & Town of McCall

Kind of self-explanatory, but we rented bikes to go around the small town of McCall and Ponderosa State Park for the day. Even if we didn’t get to bike all of it, the state park was gorgeous especially with the fall foliage. And honestly, biking trails instead of hiking them is definitely a must-try if you haven’t yet. It was my first time ever and although I was quite nervous, (with quite the rational fears of slipping and falling while on the bike) it went pretty well! Despite my front wheel slipping few times, I didn’t fall! It really is the small wins in life.
Anyways, since we didn’t have enough time (and physical endurance as a group without electric bikes) to bike to the viewpoint within the park, we biked into town instead. To me, it was an absolute moment. Biking through quiet neighborhoods to the lake with the leaves falling and the crisp air. It felt like one of those small town movies and I was living in it. For about 10 minutes… but it was still a dream.

What: Hiking? More like Alpining… Just kidding.
Where: Duck Lake (~1.2 miles round trip)

Kelly found this beautiful trail a little over 10 miles away. It was so breathtaking, it was hard to believe that this place existed just a short way from town. On the way up, there’s numerous trailheads to be picked and I can only imagine where those led to, too. Also, I honestly didn’t think it was going to be that cold since the weather was around high 30’s, low 40’s with just a dash of cloudiness and we would be hiking… but boy was I dumb. It was so cold, mixed with the nimbostratus clouds, that it started to snow. Well, little flurries started to fall here and there. It was truly an unforgettable experience for me.
Overall, I recommend hiking up to Duck Lake. It was short, well paved, and so immersive. There’s even a few campsites where you can sit on logs around a fire pit. You’ll definitely forget that town is only a couple miles below. Just dress for the weather and always leave the place better than you found it.

Takeaway Thoughts

I truly undermined the beauty and hidden treasures that Idaho has to offer. Despite Googling different places and things to do prior to going, nothing could compare to seeing and doing everything first hand. The entire experience was one I’ve never had before and I’m so so thankful to have been invited and been able to go. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to experience something so unexpected in the most marvelous way.
A small piece of me does want to go back, since I do know that there are other towns and trails in Idaho just waiting to be explored (looking at you Twin Falls and the Snake River). But I can surely wait especially if that means I’ll be on my grand ole road trip, living in a van. Or if I’ve been to all the other states already… whichever comes first.

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