Our Story — The West Central Mountains

Our region is a collection of vibrant communities that are collaborating together under a new vision for our future. “Valley County/Meadows Valley” is now termed “The West Central Mountains – Idaho’s Adventure Corridor”.  We are a unique area with over 3 million acres and only 10,800 residents. Only 8% of the land is privately owned; the rest is public lands. The region is traversed by the Payette River National Scenic Byway, which is about 75 miles long. The West Central Mountains region encompasses valleys with scenic views of pine trees and quaking aspens, rivers, lakes, and pastoral meadows, all surrounded by high, rugged peaks. It is a recreational mecca for all, and is host to 15 youth camps, such as the YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H programs.

Cascade (el. 4760’) is the County Seat of Valley County. Cascade was founded on the logging, mining and agricultural industries and now is investing in the recreation sector to capitalize on world-class recreational amenities. Kelly’s Whitewater Park is a popular destination for those looking for fast whitewater kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. They have hosted the Payette River Games for the past 3 years, bringing international media coverage to the area. This represents a true commitment for a town of only 939. Cascade has remained true to its historical roots as the venue for the Valley County Fair and Rodeo.  The town also features The Roxy, an historical theatre that, when it opened in 1939, was the most advanced theater in the northwest. It was rejuvenated in the 1980’s, and again in May 2013. The theatre runs current release movies and provides a stage for concerts and plays. Another area highlight is the 40 sq. mile Lake Cascade, a favorite of fishing and boating enthusiasts. The dam, which was built in 1948, now supports power production for the area. Building on its history, the Thunder Mountain Railroad line still provides train rides in the summer from Smith’s Ferry to Cascade. A War Memorial is located at the Legion Hall and the town holds regular veterans functions. Cascade boasts 8 churches within the city limits; these churches offer Soup ’n Scripture (lunch) to the Junior High and High School students. It is popular with the youth, where approximately 106 of the 143 students attend weekly.

Seventeen miles north is Donnelly (el. 4871’). Donnelly is the “Crossroads to Recreation”. This town of 152 residents hosts the annual Huckleberry Festival, where the town is decked out in purple in honor of the popular berry abundant throughout the region.  As a community central to Valley County, it provides access to the northern end of Cascade Lake and entry into Tamarack Resort, a four-season ski resort. Just east of Donnelly is Historic Roseberry, home of the Valley County Museum. Donnelly has a number of artisan shops such as the Hat Shop, which is located in the old bank that was moved from Roseberry when the railroad came through town. The Donnelly area also is home to Gold Fork Hot Springs, a developed hot springs, with a charming atmosphere, that is tucked away off the beaten path into the forest.

Eleven miles north is McCall (el. 5028’), the largest city in the region, with a population of 2,991. Originally a logging community whose last sawmill closed in 1977, McCall is now an all-season tourist destination known for outdoor recreation; in fact, the town was just given a “Silver Ride” designation from the International Mountain Biking Association. A downtown ice rink is the base for the Idaho Junior Steelheads, a Western States Hockey League team. It is home to Winter Carnival, started in 1923, which features professional ice sculpting. In the early 19th century, The Statesman referred to McCall as a “pleasure resort.” Tourism continued in the early 20th century. The arrival of the Railroad in 1914 secured McCall as a viable community and tourist destination. The beauty of McCall and Payette Lake drew attention from Hollywood in 1938 when it was selected as the filming location for the Academy Award-nominated Northwest Passage. McCall has a large public art collection and is home to an eclectic mix of artisans. McCall sits along the shores of Payette Lake with a depth of 392’ and home to “Sharlie”, The Twilight Dragon of Payette Lake. It is the name given to a reptile-like sea serpent much like the Loch Ness Monster that is believed by some to live in the deep alpine waters. McCall has produced 8 Olympians and a U.S. astronaut.

Fifteen miles to the west is Meadows Valley (el. 3868’). Along the way is the Little Ski Hill, where youth learn to ski at affordable rates through community supported programs. The hill once had a 60 meter Nordic ski jump and has served the area for over 75 years. Next along the route is the entrance to Brundage Mountain Ski Resort. Brundage was developed in 1961 by Norwegian Olympic skier Corey Engen and Warren Brown. The resort is owned by family of Warren Brown and operates as a premier powder resort with the tagline “Best Snow in Idaho”.

New Meadows (which sits within the greater area of Meadows Valley) is a rural town with a population of 496. “Idaho’s Heartland”,  it is located just south of the 45th parallel at the junction of the only north-south highways in the state, U.S. Route 95, and State Highway 55, at the northernmost point of the scenic byway. The city of New Meadows hosts the last surviving Pacific and Idaho Northern Railroad Depot. The depot, built in 1910, was labeled “end of the line” and was a functioning facility until 1972. It is now used as the home of the Adams County Historical Society and holds many exhibits throughout the year. In 2005, it hosted the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition “Barn Again!”.   New Meadows has  logging industry roots, hosts logging competitions every Labor Day, and the area is still home to Evergreen Forest Products. The community is creating a solid recreation base, with a golf course and numerous trails for motorized use, mountain biking and hiking; the area is connected to the 500 miles of snowmobile trails that span the region. It also is home to Zims Hot Springs, one of the many geothermal springs found in the area.

The West Central Mountains envisions a future where we honor our heritage while developing a resilient and diverse economy, with inclusive and engaged citizenry dedicated to preserving our unique landscape and strong sense of belonging. We will continue to support our existing industry and prepare for the future development of new and innovative technologies. Upgraded infrastructure to include affordable housing, safe highways, robust telecommunications and municipal services will sustain this growing economic base.

We see a community that treasures its youth and embraces opportunities for personal fulfillment, rich in programs for lifelong learning, arts and entertainment. We believe in enlarging our extraordinary network of nonprofit organizations, volunteerism, and community involvement. We foresee universal access to healthcare, through expanding health infrastructure, education and wellbeing initiatives.

Collectively, we believe in a future where the best of what we enjoy today is carefully blended with year-round jobs, increased prosperity, and endless opportunity. Our intent is not to reinvent our area but to effectively build upon what makes our community so desirable. We have the essential ingredients, momentum, determination and vision to become America’s Best Community.” We invite you to visit Idaho’s Adventure Corridor.  #ABC50


Cascade 5th Graders Rock!

The 5th graders at Cascade Elementary showed their civic pride by composing some fantastic essays about their love for the West Central Mountains and the quality of life we enjoy here. Thank you, Cascade Elementary 5th Graders! #ABC50

Here are 4 of those fantastic essays:

1. “I love living here because the mountains are really beautiful and the flowers are also pretty. The people in our mountain community are very helpful and kind. The activities here are really fun.

Going snowmobiling in the winter time and going to the golf course to sled down the steep hills are great adventures. I also like going to the mountains here because you can go skiing, hiking, and snowboarding. The lake is nice to swim in the warm summer and go ice fishing in the winter. Kelly’s whitewater park is also a fun place to go because you can go paddle boarding, surfing, and you can kayak.  20150702_114025

The wildlife here is really amazing, you can see white tailed deer, elk, coyotes, foxes, bears, and all sorts of birds. I like osprey the most. I love deer and bears. During hunting season I see a lot of those animals, because my dad and mom hunt. They are really beautiful creatures in nature.

I have lived here my entire life and the nature here just gets more beautiful. Living here has been a blast throughout the ten years I’ve been here. My dad has lived here his entire life too. My brother has lived here his entire life too. I love living in this mountain community. My parents are very nice loving people and help a lot. My friends are really nice to me and they’re super fun to hang out with. My brother is funny and very kind and helps me a lot too.”

2. “I have lived here my whole life because my mom and dad met here and stayed here. Both my parents have lived here their whole life too. They were raised here and they had a fun childhood here so they wanted to raise their family here. I am glad because I have lots of fun activities and things to do.

I am going to say here my whole life, because I want to raise a family here so they can have the opportunities I have. I will stay here because many generations have lived here that are related to me. I want my future family to see this beautiful town.

I love the great smells. I enjoy that it is small and that there’s only one of everything. One Family Dollar, one D-9, and one amazing small town. I like it because our mountains surround us. I think it is an amazing sight for us and our tourist. It’s beautiful. Its great when I wake up christmas morning and it’s snowing and I can look at the mountains and it’s just beautiful. I think it’s fun how we can go outside and build snowman. I like how we will go to boise and there will be no snow and then we come back home and there’s the pretty white fluffy snow.

I like that everyone knows everyone. I love how nice the people are here. If someone is down I’ve seen this town move mountains for them. Everyone thinks of others. We have the food pantry to help people and people often donate money to the people with cancer that don’t have enough money to pay for medical bills.

I like that we have many activities. On our lake we can go wakesurfing and practice for competitions. We have the rodeo and fair each year. We have Kelly’s Whitewater Park where we can go tubing and play in the water and discover things.I enjoy that the mountains are around us to go hunting.

I enjoy the wildlife because I will wake up and see deer and elk in the yard. I love when we go on drives and see all the animals. I feel like the animals kinda keep us safe like there our guards. Thankful for this amazing town.”

3. “I have been here 7 years. Those years have been amazing to me because I have tons of frieIMG_2606 (1)nds and awesome teachers who teach me a lot especially Mrs. Dilenge. We moved here when I was 3. I would stay here because the community takes care of me. I wouldn’t want to move away and never see them again. I also would stay here because the population is small and I don’t like big populations. I don’t want to ever leave the beauty of the mountains and wildlife. The wilderness and the beauty of the mountains make me love the community.

The activities here are so fun. People can go camping and swimming. There’s art, golfing, boating, and I can ride horses, and dirt bikes. I love our mountain community because I can go ride four wheelers in the mountains.

The mountains give me an opportunity to get out of the house and go camping. I love the wilderness because I can go get wood and stay warm for the winter. I love the smell of the pine trees. The creeks are amazing because I can swim in them when I am hot. The wilderness is like my home because I can do more than I could do in the city. I can shoot guns here but I can’t in the cities. The wildlife here are so beautiful and I can enjoy the animals. There are bears, wolves, deer, elk, and rabbits.”

4. “I have been here for 4 years. My mom and dad did not grow up here. We came here because my mom and dad got a job here, my dad works at Granite and my mom works at the courthouse. I started school here in second grade and have been here ever since. I hope that we don’t move from Cascade. Since I have been here I have got to do a lot. I have stayed here because all my friends are here and some of my family. I have stayed here because of the school and the teachers. They are all very nice and the school is small so it is a lot easier to do things and learn things.

I love cascade because I get to see so many beautiful views of the mountains and lakes. We have a lot of wildlife in Cascade we have deer, wildcats, bears, foxes, and many more. The wildlife is very cool to see and hunt.

The people that live here are very kind. I love all the people here it would be sad if they left. The activities you can do here are endless. You can hike, hunt, swim, surf, paddle board, raft and many more. my favorite activities are surfing and basketball and swimming. The activities are really fun up here. It would be sad if we lost some of our activities.”cascadefoodbank