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Ice man?

Ice man?

Idaho’s Unworldly Ice Sculptors

By Emma Echelmeier

Have you ever seen a sculpture bigger than a house and made entirely of snow and ice? How about a life-sized icy Darth Vader? A classic snowman, but make it 30 feet high, or maybe a larger than life-sized Gandalf head?  

The Winter Carnival in McCall, Idaho happens every February, and the main attraction is the fantastic ice sculptures found throughout the town. Lots of them are just on the side of the main road, but others might be found at certain restaurants, tourist stops, lodges, or other places of importance. Some are even found at the top of Brundage Mountain, the closest ski resort.  

The ice sculptures are created intricately and are all very different. Some years there are themes, and sometimes these sculptures are purely random. While some are oddly shaped and abstract, others are as tall as buildings, and some you can even walk through! The subject of each artwork varies greatly, but lots of them end up being familiar people, characters, and animals.  

Flopping fish ice sculpture. Photo from

This small but accessible town is the perfect place for this event. People from all over put their sculpting skills to the test in the Annual Idaho Snow Sculpting Championship. The sculptures are judged and ranked into the top 10 and given money prizes in the end. [1] 

The Carnival has other activities to celebrate, including the torchlight ceremony, a dogsled contest, live music, snowshoe golf, and fireworks! [2] 

McCall offers more than just the Winter Carnival during the snowy season. With two ski resorts close by, the small mountain town still manages to stay busy all year long. Brundage Mountain Ski Resort and Tamarack Ski Resort are great options for skiing and snowboarding. The Payette National Forest gets many feet of snow each winter, making the usual green mountains even more incredible and majestic. 

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Train and workers made of snow. Photo from

Other wintery and festive activities are available in McCall, like sledding, sleighrides, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and even an ice rink in the middle of town. 

Sadly, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Winter Carnival is not taking place this year, but many of the other activities are still open. Hopefully in coming years the full celebration can continue.[3] 

  1. McCall. (2020, December 5). McCall Winter Carnival. Retrieved from
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 

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