208-634-LAKE (5253) | 203 e. lake street (PO Box 1051) mccall, id 83638


Quick Facts:

  • McCall Lake Cruises has been in operation since 2013
  • McCall Lake Cruises operates on the beautiful Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho
  • The boat McCall Lake Cruises uses in named The IDAHO
  • The IDAHO was built in Northern Idaho in 1983
  • The IDAHO was refurbished in 2011-2012 and brought to McCall
  • The IDAHO accommodates 90 passengers
  • The IDAHO has a heated interior cabin with full-service bar, restrooms, sound & PA systems and upper sun deck

Story Ideas:

  • A different way to enjoy the water
  • Most unique places to get a drink in Valley County
  • Create an itinerary about spending a day on the water—we are happy to help with ideas!

Press Releases:

“New McCall Lake Cruises Provides Luxury Lake Tours on Payette Lake”


The Story of “Sharlie,” the Monster of Payette Lake:

Sharlie, Payette Lake’s resident monster, dates back to the early 1900s. The first reported sighting described a scaly cylindrical body attached to a stumpy cow-like head hurtling through the frigid waters of Payette Lake. In 1954 after many reports of this mysterious lake creature, The Star-News held a naming contest with a $40 grand prize. Suggestions came in from across the country and a panel of eight judges, including then-governor Len Jordan, selected “Sharlie.”

Regular sightings of Sharlie have been reported over the years, but no official evidence of Sharlie’s existence has been offered up. Regardless, the residents of McCall need no proof to know she (yes, Sharlie is a she) is real. Her legend continues to grow, adding imagination and mystery to the area folklore, as an unofficial symbol of McCall. Have you been lucky enough to see Sharlie?


Owner Bios:

Doris Armacost, co-owner of McCall Lake Cruises, was born and raised near Heidelberg, Germany. At a young age she developed in appetite for adventure and travel, so much so that a vacation to Hawaii ended up a never-ending vacation! In 1973 she discovered Idaho and the opportunity of the wild and beautiful west. After working for 13 years in the gold mining industry, her next adventure led her to becoming a white water rafting guide on the Snake and Salmon Rivers, and in Hells Canyon.

Bret Armacost, co-owner, was born and raised on a beef cattle ranch between Council, Idaho & the Snake River (Brownlee Dam area).  At the age of 12 Bret went on his first ever boat trip, a 3-day water ski outing on the Snake River.  By the age of 19 the family ranch had been sold and Bret had discovered commercial tour boats.

After meeting in Hells Canyon, the couple got married in McCall along the shore of the beautiful Payette Lake. As a married couple they worked diligently to build capital for the purchase of their very own white water adventure outfitting business on the Snake River in Hells Canyon.  Starting out with two good used jet boats and a combined capacity of 35 passengers, Bret and Doris served 1,200 guests their first year. Through hard work and commitment to the business, their success exceeded expectations and in 2002 they handed business over to new owners.  At the time of the sale they were running three new custom built jet boats with a combined capacity of 118 passengers, serving over 10,000 guests annually.

After selling their company, they had time to travel and experience what the world around them had to offer. With time they come to the conclusion that they both had more to offer to Idaho and when The IDAHO cruise vessel became available they both saw the opportunity to get back at the helm on calmer waters. Doris and Bret can regularly be found on the boat greeting the passengers and setting out for the next cruise. Welcome aboard!

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