Valley County, Idaho: Our Mountain Home

Alzar School | 28.03.18

Tucked into the West Central Mountains of Idaho, lined with snow-capped peaks that dip down to grassy plains, spotted with glacial lakes and bubbling natural hot springs, lies Valley County. With a past steeped in logging and mining, the community remains deeply connected to the surrounding environment. The wood mills and gold rush mines are long gone, but this area has grown into a destination for vacationers and adventurers alike. Known as a gateway for all types of year-round outdoor recreation and a finalist for America’s Best Communities in 2017, Valley County has a lot to offer as the backdrop to the Alzar School campus.

Winter months bring some of the finest snow in the West to the surrounding mountains. Excellent conditions and vast public land access draw outdoor enthusiasts to the area to ski, snowmobile, ice skate, fish and hunt. Now in its 53rd year, the McCall Winter Carnival also attracts thousands for two weeks of events ranging from dog sled races to snow sculpting contests. Due to the long winter season, both fall and spring students at the Alzar School get embrace winter’s activities – taking ski or snowboard laps at one of the area’s three ski resorts, shoveling yurt stoops and even having an occasional snowball skirmish.

As warmer temperatures bring about spring thaw, locals and visitors alike emerge from their ski pants and don kayaking helmets and biking shoes. Keen on paddling the snowmelt flows, boaters flock to the Payette and Salmon drainages and bikers push past the last patches of snow to ride the valley’s extensive trail system. Alzar School students will brave the colder spring waters of Kelly’s Whitewater Park which, located just three miles from campus, provides endless entertainment and opportunities to hone paddling skills.

Summer arrives in late June in Idaho and provides dozens of opportunities to explore and experience nature. Forage for mushrooms while hiking to one of the countless high mountain lakes, relax on the natural white sand beaches of the Salmon after a day of rafting, or enjoy the pristine sunset from one of the various golf courses. Paddleboards, wakeboards, surfboards, and all types of watersports and crafts are vehicles for adventure, spanning out across Valley County’s expansive network of lakes, rivers and streams.

Autumn does not disappoint in Valley County. Brilliant yellow Western Larch stand out amongst the greenery of coniferous fir while spotted Aspen shimmer and shake their fiery leaves in the waning light. Student backpackers face nighttime temperatures that dip below freezing and spike up 50 degrees during the day. Outdoor adventures shift to outdoor chores – bringing in the garden harvest, gathering firewood and swapping sails for skis and sandals for snow boots. And so, the cycle of living in the West Central Mountains of Idaho begins again. We love our Valley County home.