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A Visitor’s Guide to Donnelly, Idaho

The Best Rental Cabins, Homes, Lakefront Estates and Romantic Getaways in McCall, Donnelly, Cascade & New Meadows

Rolling, rugged landscapes, abundant trees, and calm, tranquil wildlife pepper people’s minds when they think of a vacation in rural Idaho. On your last vacation, you might have enjoyed the City of Trees (Boise) but not want to try something more secluded and quaint for your next luxe cabin getaway. Enter the charming city of Donnelly, nestled in Valley County, Idaho.

Donnelly is an excellent choice for the budding explorer, historian, or chronic relaxation seeker. That’s why we situated some of our coziest, warmest, and most fantastic vacation homes there.

Still, you’ll need a packed suitcase, itinerary, and budget for this getaway. We can help with this up-to-date guide on the ultimate guide to Donnelly, Idaho.

About Donnelly

At the turn of the 20th century, a 100-mile railroad track that ran from Emmett to McCall, Idaho, led to bustling business transactions, and soon travelers flowed through the Valley and Gem counties.

Somewhere on this prosperous trail, the little town of Donnelly also found success. Founded in 1914, just 90 miles north of Boise, on the northeast shore of Lake Cascade, Donnelly is now a thriving family-oriented community centered around the abundant natural resources that surround it.

Donnelly sits 4,865 feet above sea level and enjoys close proximity to the lovely Payette Lake, Cascade Lake, and West Mountains. It’s chock-full of divine mountain views and vistas, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts or peace-seeking travelers.

Fancy an afternoon boating with the comfort of Lake Cascade’s gentle rocking and your family’s laughter echoing across the water? Or perhaps you’re after more active endeavors, like hiking or mountain biking in the West Mountains. Donnelly will serve you well! It is, at its core, a small town with warm people, but it is the nature that will foster your itinerary here.

What to Pack For Your Vacation in Donnelly

The weather dictates the things you pack and, sometimes, the people you bring! Winter’s a bit harsh for the chilly-averse traveler but a perfect adventure for the curious one.

Here’s what you should pack by season and what you can expect.


Winters are chilly and wet, with highs in the mid-thirties to low-forties. Lows are in the teens. Snow does come, but only for 11 days each month, and sometimes it’s more of a rainy day anyway.

  • Snow Pants, Waterproof Parka, Waterproof Winter Boots
  • Hats, Mittens, Scarves
  • Skis, Snowboards, Snowshoes, Sleds
  • Jeans, Sweatshirts, Sweaters, Long Johns, Long-sleeves


Springtime warms up a bit with highs in the 40s, 50s, and 60s and lows in the 20s and 30s. However, Spring brings a lot of rain, especially in March.

  • Jeans, Long-sleeves, Sweatshirts, Sweaters
  • Rain Jacket, Rain Boots, Waterproof Hiking Boots
  • Waterproof Parka or Windbreaker, Hats, Gloves


The summer boasts highs in the 70s and 80s and lows in the 40s. Enjoy sun-soaked adventures in the woods and feel free and flowy in a t-shirt and shorts.

  • Shorts, Short-sleeves
  • Sweatshirts, Jeans
  • Bathing Suits, Flip Flops
  • Hiking Boots


The Fall drops off in temperature quickly, while September has highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 30s. October cools to highs in the high 50s and lows in the high 20s. You might not need a parka all the time but think twice before going out at night underdressed. It’s hot chocolate and fireplace time!

  • Sweaters, Sweat Pants, Long-sleeves, Jeans
  • Winter Boots, Parka
  • Hat, Light Gloves

Is there a “best time” to visit Donnelly? It depends on the activities and the weather you enjoy most. Donnelly may be most popular in the summer and winter. Still, a trip to Donnelly is never wasted with its natural beauty and mystique.

Now, what’s on your itinerary?

Things to Do in Donnelly

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite activities to do in the area. Keep in mind that Donnelly is quite small, just under 0.75 square miles. So if you notice an activity in a different town, rest assured it’s a close drive away.

1. Fishing in Lake Cascade

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  • Notable features: Lake Cascade State Park also offers dreamy, breathtaking activities like biking, hiking, birdwatching, and even winter snowshoeing.
  • Address: 100 Kelly’s Parkway, Cascade, ID

The fishing opportunities around McCall and Donnelly, Idaho, are abundant! Lake Cascade State Park is a fantastic place for fishing, boating, and paddling enthusiasts. Avid fishermen, listen up. You’re on the hunt for Rainbow Trout, Coho Salmon, and small-mouth Bass, all of which can be found all year long in Lake Cascade.

If you’re interested in catch-and-release, you might explore additional species in Lake Cascade, like the Bull Trout and Sturgeon. Regardless of your intentions, make sure to stick to bag limits and follow park regulations. Do your part to keep our fish populations stable.

2. Skiing and Snowboarding at Brundage Mountain Ski Resort

  • Notable features: Attracts thousands of Americans every year for its fabulous slopes.
  • Address: 3890 Goose Lake Rd, McCall, ID

One of the best things about visiting Idaho is the amazing opportunity to ski and snowboard in the beautiful surrounding mountains.

Luckily, Brundage Mountain Ski Resort offers an excellent opportunity for downhill skiing and snowboarding in some of the best powder in Idaho. Are you traveling with a first-time skier or snowboarder? Enroll them in a full-day or half-day lesson so they can learn the ropes before hitting the slopes!

Is Nordic skiing more your speed? Ponderosa State Park is a great place to zen out as you move through the beautiful snowy landscape.

If you want a slower-paced outdoor adventure, try snowshoeing! Donnelly, McCall, Tamarack Resort, and Jug Handle Mountain have plenty of open areas offering supreme snowshoeing opportunities.

After a long day on the mountain, consider soaking in a hot tub at your vacation rental or sitting around the fire pit for some much-needed relaxation.

3. Snowmobiling in the West Mountains

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  • Notable features: If you book a snowmobiling tour through Mountain Meadow Rentals, you can ride in from the parking lot and access trails like Council Mountain and No Business Mountain!
  • Address: 2445 West Mountain Rd, Donnelly, ID

The West Mountains are a stunning range with hair-raising cliffs, miles of trails, and exquisite scenic views. This area is also known for getting a lot of winter snow, so it is perfect for snowmobiling or snowshoeing! If you are looking for a place to rent a snowmobile, consider Mountain Meadow Adventure Rentals.

4. Gold Fork Hot Springs

  • Notable features: Remember to bring cash, as credit cards are not accepted!
  • Address: 1026 Gold Fork Rd, Donnelly, ID

Enjoy a magical experience at the six natural pools of Gold Fork Hot Springs. Each of the six pools sits in a natural rock formation, and the water is anywhere from 85-110 degrees all year round! Talk about relaxing! These pools are open every day of the week except Tuesdays and are open on all holidays. For just $10 per person, you can unwind and feel inspired by nature’s wondrous hot tubs.

5. White Water Rafting at Tamarack Resort

Photo Credit: tamarackidaho

  • Notable features: If you’re craving an adults-only day on the water, the Tamarack Resort has a daycare facility for children six months to 12 years old.
  • Address: 311 Village Drive, Tamarack, ID

Did you pack an appetite for adventure? It’s time to satiate it with a white water rafting trip!

Over on the Payette River, you can find exhilarating opportunities for white water rafting. Tamarack Resort offers a full-day white water rafting excursion from May through September. You can have as few as four and as many as twenty-four people, so bring your family or a whole party!

No prior experience is necessary, and Tamarack Resort supplies everything you need to make this experience fantastic. All you need to do is wear a bathing suit and shoes.

6. Hap and Florence Points Memorial Sleigh Rides

Photo Credit: idahonews

  • Notable features: Some of the elk may even feed off of the hay bales that serve as seats on the sleigh!
  • Address: Farm to Market Road, Donnelly, ID

Have your kids ever wanted to ride on Santa’s Sleigh? Or maybe you brought some kiddos hankering for a Christmas experience. Well, Donnelly doesn’t have reindeer, but it does have a horse-drawn sleigh that brings you through Long Valley to see elk and other majestic wildlife. Yes, please!

Make sure to check out Hap and Florence Points Memorial Sleigh Rides to experience the beauty of these creatures personally.

Book Your Next Vacation in Donnelly

Does hiking, fishing, snowmobiling, white water rafting, wildlife sleigh rides, hot spring soaks, and gorgeous sights sound appealing to you? Then Donnelly, Idaho, is a great place to consider for your vacation.

Need help with logistics? Done Right Management has years of experience providing comfortable, local accommodations for families, couples, and friends alike. A nice bonus? What you see is what you get — no hidden booking fees here. Book your Donnelly vacation rental today!

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