Magazine article Sunset

Winter Fun in McCall

Magazine article Sunset

Winter Fun in McCall

Article excerpt

Test your skiing and snow-sculpting skills in central Idaho

Everyone's hoping for a cold snap this month in McCall, Idaho. Not because they're fans of frostbite, but because subfreezing temps will keep the powder dry on the just-opened ski runs at the region's new Tamarack Resort. And chilly days will aid construction and preservation of the stars of the town's 40-year-old Winter Carnival: more than two dozen snow sculptures competing for the festival crown.

"If the weather cooperates, it goes a lot quicker," says Ben Colley, who has helped build McCall Memorial Hospital's artistic submission in each of the last six competitions. Last year his homage to The Lion King, inspired by the carnival's movie theme, took his crew about two weeks to finish, a typical amount of time, barring slush-creating sunshine slowdowns.

McCall is a lakeside resort community that's a 100-mile drive past slopes of snow-edged pines along the Payette River north of Boise. The city's 10-day winter revel, held January 28 through February 6 this year, is a call to both visitors and locals to get out and enjoy the cold, with dog-sledding demonstrations, snowshoe golf, parades, a hairy-leg contest, dances, ice-skating, hockey, and the Idaho Snow Sculpting Championship. Locals and professionals compete in the two-round competition, which climaxes with a 24-hour sculpt-off.

But whether or not the weather holds for the festival, the stars have aligned to provide central Idaho visitors with expanded winter recreation options.

The big news is the opening of Tamarack Resort (2099 W. Mountain Rd., Donnelly; www.tamarackidaho.com, or 208/325-1000), about 18 miles southwest of McCall. In December, Tamarack fired up its five new lifts ($55 per day) after a soft opening last season for snowshoeing and nordic skiing ($10 per day).

The massive resort, which will have cost about $1.5 billion when fully complete, currently includes 25 downhill runs that drop a total of 2,800 feet, 20 miles of nordic trails, 6 miles of snowshoe trails (including a section open to dogs), a ski school, and six restaurants. Lodging is available in 62 rental houses (from $350 per night); a hotel is scheduled to open at the end of the year. Planners hope to draw as many as 70,000 skiers a season to the icy shores of Lake Cascade.

"The skiing here is phenomenal. …

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