Pilot group to rebuild backcountry lodge in Payette National Forest

The Idaho backcountry pilot community and outdoor enthusiasts suffered a blow when fire destroyed the Big Creek Lodge near Yellow Pine seven years ago, pilot Joe Corlett says.

Located east of McCall, the lodge served as an access point to the nearby Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, which is accessible only on foot and by raft and aircraft.

The lodge was one of a few stops where pilots and their passengers from outside the area could land and pay for a room or breakfast instead of camping, Corlett told the Idaho Statesman. Some of the other backcountry lodges required landing on trickier runways, making Big Creek an ideal resting spot.

A plan for a new lodge where the old one stood will try to recreate what the old Big Creek meant for its users, Corlett said Thursday. The Idaho Aviation Foundation secured permits to rebuild the lodge on U.S. Forest Service land. It hopes to finish the lodge next year.

“The lodge was a destination airport, where it was easy to land and known for home-cooked, family-style meals,” said Corlett, a foundation board member. “There’s a finite number of places where pilots can go and have breakfast or stay the night.”

The rebuilt two-story lodge will be about 3,500 square feet.

Go to rebuildbigcreek.com for more information.