Snowmobiling Adventure Pays Homage to the Magic of Winter
Before we start extolling the virtues of wintertime adventure in McCall, let’s begin by wishing our online community a happy and healthy decade ahead; we’re sure the best is yet to come. What can we say? That kind of optimism is just what Old Man Winter does to us out here in Idaho.
It’s easy to forget that not everyone has a glacial lake or chain of mountains in their backyard, but it’s par for the course in our neighborhood. And with an average of 138 inches of snowfall each year (that’s eleven and a half feet, in case you’re wondering), there are opportunities aplenty to enjoy the frosty wonderland that surrounds us.
THE MAGIC OF WINTER
According to the Snowmobiling in Idaho guide published by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation in 2015, Idaho is home to a staggering 5,600 miles of snowmobile trails together with 29 grooming programs. To state the obvious: That’s a whole lot of adventure waiting to be had. Trail grooming programs provide smooth trails so that riders with any level of experience can enjoy the sport; added to that, McCall has large swaths of open terrain to sled across. While the former can be thrilling, sledding out in the open has the obvious advantage of affording riders the best views. And while frosty air hitting you at 50 miles per hour may feel like a slap in the face, trust us, one glimpse of Salmon River Mountains‘ glistening white peaks against Idaho’s ice-blue winter sky and you’ll feel warm as a yule log.
THE REAL McCALL SNOWMOBILING & HOT SPRINGS TOUR
During the first days of 2020, Shore Lodge rolled out the first of our new Blaze Your Own Trail Adventure Tour Series with The Real McCall Snowmobiling & Hot Springs Tour. Not for the faint of heart, this adrenaline-soaked ride is of the BYOC (bring your own Chapstick) lot.
This excursion begins at the trailhead near Payette Lake, where riders will be outfitted with proper winter gear and given a sled by their Adventure Guest Services Member. After listening to a safety briefing that covers weather conditions, riding techniques, and how to stay safe in different scenarios, it’s time to hit the gas and cut some powder.
A solid half-day adventure, The Real McCall covers over 30 miles of pristine open terrain. Adventurers will take in the glorious fresh air as they brave the elements before stopping at Burgdorf Hot Springs for a hearty picnic lunch, complete with a piping hot thermos filled to the brim with The Bar’s infamous Hot Toddy. In wintertime, the hot springs are accessible only by snowmobile, which makes for a quieter, more intimate environment and a strong possibility to glimpse some of the area’s magnificent elk, moose, and deer.
After a long soak in the mineral pool, it’s back into the saddle to retrace the day’s earlier route. Afterward, riders will indulge in a luxurious facial or massage at The Cove Spa before spending the night replenishing the calories they burned that day at The Narrows Steakhouse.
Photos courtesy of Chad Case Photography
DO UNTO SNOWMOBILES AS THEY WOULD DO UNTO YOU
One of the more intriguing stories about snowmobiles that we’ve come across lately was written by Steven Fuller, the “legendary” winter keeper of Yellowstone National Park for the last half-century. Titled Riding the Unwild Roar In Yellowstone: A Winterkeeper Explores His Relationship With Yellowstone Via the Snowmobile, Fuller says, “I sometimes remark, when asked about my relationship with snowmobiles, that the first 100,000 miles on them was fun…not literally true, since they were often a source of frustration, inconvenience, and stranding…but still, there is the pleasure of mastering them, as there is in riding horses in wild country, or backcountry skiing finding your way through challenging topography or driving a 4X4 for weeks in a roadless region of Africa.”
In other words, snowmobiles require skill to ride. And anything that requires skill means safety first. While our Adventure Guest Services Member will do everything in their power to ensure the safety of everyone in the saddle, it’s always a good idea to be proactive about safety when going out into the wild.
Here are some basic tips, gleaned from personal experience as well as our friends over at Idaho Parks and Recreation:
- Always yield to a groomer.
- When approaching an oncoming groomer, slow down and move your snowmobile to the far-right side of the trail. If the trail is narrow or winding, you may need to stop at the far outside edge of the trail to allow the groomer to pass.
- When overtaking a groomer from the rear, slow down and assess the situation ahead. If there is good sight distance and the trail ahead is clear of oncoming traffic, pass the groomer with caution.
- Try to avoid riding a snowmobile on freshly groomed trails for at least two hours after the groomer passes to help improve the quality and durability of snowmobile trails.
- Before going out snowmobiling check avalanche warnings, snow conditions, the weather forecast, and grooming status and trail conditions.
- Always keep to the right on snowmobile trails.
- Don’t ride alone.
- Always wear adequate winter clothing and protective glasses, goggles or face shields. Use sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn.
PUT THE WILD IN WILDERNESS
Put the wild in wilderness this winter with a snowmobiling adventure sure to kick up some of Idaho’s best powder along with a flurry of Instagram posts. The Real McCall Snowmobiling & Hot Springs Tour will leave riders with one more checkmark on their bucket list and a new appreciation for this
BECAUSE, WHEN IN McCALL…
“You can keep your Range Rover, but you’ll take the keys to my snowmobile from my cold, dead hand!”
*This year the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation is offering free snowmobile-based avalanche courses for those interested in learning more about “how to safely navigate backcountry avalanche terrain, how to make accurate field assessments, and companion rescue training.”