This is definitely a trip I recommend. You don’t even need your own boat for this one, since you can rent them at North Beach, where the Meanders empties into Payette Lake.
We got to McCall late on Friday, and we almost didn’t get a campspot. It ended up being McCall’s 4th of July fireworks weekend, so we were actually really lucky we got a spot at all. We stayed at Northwest Passage, a part of Ponderosa State Park, but much less developed than the main park. We chose this campground, because we were able to wheel the kayaks right down to the river from our campsite. The kayaks have detachable wheels for transporting, which is really nice, since they’re fairly heavy.
Saturday morning, we chose to paddle south toward Payette Lake, although it looked like we could’ve just as easily gone north. It was gorgeous. I can’t remember how long it took before we made it to the lake, but it must’ve only been a couple of hours one-way. We had lunch on our kayaks on the lake. We could’ve eaten our lunch on land, as there were plenty of places to beach the kayaks and sit comfortably on land, but we were enjoying being in the kayaks.
After lunch, we headed back up the Meanders. When we reached the campground, we kept going north and discovered a much less crowded piece of river. I actually can’t remember seeing anyone else on it. It was also very beautiful, if not more so because of its being empty. It was nice to have the place to ourselves after having spent half the day sharing the lower part of the river with so many other kayakers, canoers and paddleboarders. Of course, everyone was really friendly which made it a lot of fun. It was just interesting to have two such different experiences on the same river and just split apart by the campground.
There’s a nice, somewhat steep, beach that’s a part of the campground, where it was nice to spend the evening after kayaking all day.