A deck covered in snow overlooking a blue lake. The deck is connected to a dock that juts into the lake. Attached to the dock is white boat. Mountains can be seen in the background.

Valley County, Idaho

Josh and I grew up in McCall, Idaho in Valley County, and had been debating on whether or not to travel up there during our month in Boise. The answer should have been an obvious “Yes”. It is, in both of our opinions, one of the most beautiful areas in the world. But there is a sadness about going back to a home town that is no longer your town. Both of our families have left the area, as have most of our school friends, and the town has seen a growth spurt in the 18 years since we’ve been gone. Will we even recognize it, will anyone recognize us, or will it even feel like home?

Trail Creek Hot Springs

Thankfully, my step-sister saved the day and whisked us off to the emotionally safer neighboring town of Cascade, Idaho (also in Valley County) for a trip to Trail Creek Hot Springs. Cascade is about 1.5 hours north of Boise along a beautiful, winding canyon highway. Once in Cascade, we pulled off onto Warm Lake Rd and drove for what felt like forever on the lightly plowed, snowy road. Our hot springs guidebook described our destination as “a turn out with rocks on the other side”. There were turnouts ever mile or so, and all were rocky, so it’s actually a bit of a surprise that we were able to find Trail Creek Hot Springs.

Three people holding hot beverage cups outside in the snow. There is a snowy road in the background. On the other side of the road is a hill made of rock.

It was an awesome, non-commercialized but still a well-constructed natural hot springs. There were a couple of ropes to help us climb down the steep and snowy slopes. A couple of warmed rocks made for a nice place to put our clothes while we were soaking.


There were three different soaking pools, each with handy nozzles to let in some freezing river water. It helped to maintain a comfy temperature. It was empty of people when we arrived, so we had plenty of space to explore and relax.

Trail Creek Hot Springs in Idaho

McCall, Idaho

Then the time came to decide whether or not to make the 30 minute journey to McCall. To face our worries and fears in order to visit the most beautiful place on earth. How could we not?

McCall, Idaho is the most adorable town that anyone has ever seen, ever (at least, in my “humble” opinion). It is located 100 miles North of Boise and hosts a lake, ski resorts, camping, fishing, and so much more. The current population is around 3,000 people, but that increases significantly during the peak tourism seasons of summer and winter. Even when at night, when the lake is frozen over, the view took my breath away.

Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho

Like many of my irrational fears, it turned out to be… irrational. McCall was beautiful, we were recognized, our favorite shops were still there, and the memories were still fresh. I love and will always love my foresty wonderland.

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