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

 

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