July-August 2016 – McCall, Idaho, is perched right on the edge of beautiful Payette Lake, and in the summertime it is a wonderful waterfront beach town if there ever was one. What a great destination for an RV trip!
Even though McCall sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the temps in August were toasty warm and everyone was enjoying cooling off at the waterfront beach parks. What a beautiful setting!
Kids were everywhere, and they were just loving the town beach. Two little boys were standing in the water blowing bubbles and two little girls up on the beach were trying to catch them.
A little ways down the beach a little girl was playing with a wagon.
Boats were lined up at the docks, and there was a steady stream of boaters heading out onto the lake.
The main street of McCall is very cute with historic buildings wedged together cheek-by-jowel. For those that want to cool off without going swimming, we found a skating rink just a few doors down with sessions that are open to the public.
We made our way to Mountain Java on many mornings, sipping a tasty cuppa joe while sitting in the colorful Adirondack chairs that fill the lawn in front of the Mountain Monkey Business store and look out onto Payette Lake.
This was a wonderful way to start the morning, and we met both locals and tourists alike while kicking back and savoring the view and a brew.
By a stroke of very good luck, we happened to be in town during the Antique and Classic Boat Show at the elegant Shore Lodge on the edge of Payette Lake. What a fabulous display of lovingly varnished boats from yesteryear!
These gorgeous boats were known as “lakers” in their day, because they were specifically designed for happy boating days on fresh water lakes. Their meticulously varnished and gleaming woodwork wouldn’t hold up to the salt water of the ocean.
I can just imagine spending a day on the water in one of these, complete with lunch at anchor in some secluded cove on the lake.
These boats have a lot of get-up-and-go too, and many of them have been upgraded with modern engines that have even more zip. The owners of these classic boats just love them and love talking about them too.
Whenever one fired up its engine, a little crowd would form around the boat to listen to the engine purr and to find out where the owner had purchased the boat, what its history was, and what he had done to refurbish it to its former glory.
There’s nothing like a classic yacht, and last year during our travels in Maine, we took a fabulous factory tour of Hinckley Yachts, a boat builder that has morphed from producing stunning sailing yachts to zippy, luxurious powerboats.
The boats here in McCall, Idaho, were a lot smaller than the Hinckleys in Maine, but their owners got just as much pleasure from taking them out for a spin. Every time someone began untying the dock lines and shoved off into water, there was a murmur of oohs and aahs from the rest of us watching in envy from the dock.
The setting for this fabulous boat show was the equally fabulous Shore Lodge, a high end resort hotel that presides over one end of McCall’s lakefront.
We wandered through the elegant Shore Lodge and explored its many nooks and crannies. It dates back to 1948 and has many refined touches of an earlier age.
The dining room has a breathtaking view of the docks below and all of Payette Lake and the distant mountains too. For those that needed a break from walking between the antique wooden boats, this was a great place for a bite to eat with a bird’s eye view of the goings-on.
McCall, Idaho, has a lot more to offer than just beach and boating fun, though. We found some fantastic mountain biking trails west of town near Brundage Mountain, and we enjoyed a beautiful bike ride through Ponderosa State Park which is located on a peninsula that juts out into Payette Lake on the east side of town.
One day we took a drive down Highway 55 to do some exploring south of McCall. We came across the historic town of Roseberry which was settled by a few Finnish families in the 1800’s.
The whole area is now a museum that honors those rugged settlers and offers a peek into their lives.
There are some old log cabins that the families lived in as well as a fun town site with a general store, church, school, barn and other neat buildings.
The town of Roseberry had its hey day in the early 1900’s, boasting a hotel, two black smith shops , a butcher shop, logging mill, creamery and restaurant. However, ten years later, the Pacific, Idaho and Northern Railroad line came through about 2 miles west of town, and Roseberry wilted while the bustling town of Donnelly right on the railroad tracks thrived.
Amazingly, lots of Roseberry people moved their homes and shops over to Donnelly to take advantage of the boom there, transporting their buildings by wagon! It’s hard to imagine that kind of boom and exodus today, especially given the easily driven luxury homes we RVers get to live in.
Down at Lake Cascade, next to the town of Cascade, we found several campgrounds along the shoreline. RVers, boaters and fishermen were enjoying these lakeside campsites. We didn’t stay, but what a great spot to camp!
Back in McCall, we enjoyed some moonless nights, and one evening Mark snuck out with his new 12 mm fish eye lens to catch the Milky Way straight up overhead. This made a very cool effect!
If you are looking for a wonderful area for an RV trip in the heat of the summer, McCall, Idsho, is a very fun beach town. There are more links to help you plan your travels below.
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Here’s a little more info about McCall, Payette Lake, Roseberry, etc:
- RV Camping in McCall – McCall RV Resort
- Antique and Classic Boat Show at Shore Lodge on Payette Lake
- Ponderosa State Park
- Historic Roseberry Idaho and Roseberry’s General Store & Musuem
- Camping at Lake Cascade State Park
- Locations of McCall, Ponderosa State Park, Shore Lodge, Roseberry & Lake Cascade
Some related posts from our Idaho and the NW Montana / Idaho Panhandle RV travels:
- An Idaho Panhandle RV Trip on US-95: Sandpoint, Moscow & McCall 09/10/16
- Ross Creek Cedars & Kootenai Falls – Giant Trees & Swings in Montana! 09/03/16
- Eagles and Hummingbirds in Libby, Montana 08/31/16
- Whitefish to Libby – Big Surprises on the Back Roads of Montana 08/28/16
- Northern Idaho – Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes 08/23/07
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Another beautiful place in Idaho. Didn’t realize the state had so much to offer. When my daughter lived in Montana we rented a cabin in Idaho close to Yellowstone for a week with her and the grandkids but the area didn’t have the water like where you are now. We definitely need to see the rest of the state. Love the shot of the stars- Mark is convincing me I need that 12mm!
The lakes in Idaho are spectacular, especially in the summertime, and each has its own unique town perched on the edge. Yes, you need that 12 mm lens, Ed!! I stole it out of Mark’s bag for an evening of Milky Way shots at Bryce Canyon a few days ago — what an awesome lens!!
Nice blog! Good to know about McCall.