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Unearthing Idaho - McCall

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- More than 40 years ago, a small logging community reached the end of an era. Its last mill closed in 1977 and what appeared as the fall of industry left little hope for its inhabitants. But the town has since become something much more.
A kayaker paddles his way through whitewater on the North Fork Payette River, Idaho, July 10, 2015. Rafting, tubing and kayaking are some of the most popular activities to do on the river. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth/RELEASED))
Today, McCall, Idaho, is a thriving resort town with hiking, boating, skiing, a family friendly downtown and charming restaurants.

It's a bit of a drive. At just over three hours and more than 130 miles from Mountain Home Air Force, Base it's definitely going to drain some gas. That said, the drive isn't bad. I found myself enjoying the trip. Being stationed in Idaho's desert, how often do I get to drive through a place with lush green grass and massive forests?

Speaking of trees, Valley County (which McCall resides) is home to three national forests, hundreds of rivers and lakes and more trails than I care to count. It's a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Valley County is home to many popular rivers and lakes for whitewater rafting and kayaking. However, many of the activities in McCall center around the Payette Lake.

Tubing, water skiing, wakeboarding, fishing, kayaking; if it's a watersport, it's popular on Payette Lake. The best part about it is the ease of access. There are quite a few sports rental shops throughout the city. With downtown running along the sandy shoreline, getting out on the water is a quick and easy process.

McCall also has a rustic downtown. Most of its shops are made with huge logs and have a great old western feel. Families can enjoy the cowboy aesthetic without sacrificing the convenience they're used to. Grocery stores, pizza places, and restaurants are everywhere and pet-friendly hotels are close to the action.

Children skate around the Harshman Skatepark in McCall, Idaho, July 10, 2015. The skatepark was founded by the Tony Hawk Foundation to provide skaters with a safe yet challenging place to ride skateboards, bikes, rollerblades and scooters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth/RELEASED) There's even a free public skate park built by the Tony Hawk Foundation where action sports enthusiasts come from all over Idaho to hit its unique ramps.

If humble diners and skate parks aren't your thing, there's plenty to do just outside the city. A 30-minute drive will put you in the thick of the Payette National Forrest and the Salmon River Mountain Range. The mountains offer plenty of trails at varying skill levels so toddlers and experienced hikers can both have a good time.

The trails aren't just for hiking. Bikers are abundant in McCall and the community is very welcoming to newcomers. There are businesses that offer trail tours for those adventurous folks curious about the area.

Whether it's a day downtown, splashing in the lake or hitting the trails, McCall is somewhere anyone can experience an outdoor family vacation with very few compromises. Expect to have a good time and lots of fun connecting with the outdoors.

Editor's note: This is the fifth installment of a weekly blog highlighting attractions and activities around Idaho. Stay tuned to learn more!

Download the top photo at this link.