Boise is situated on the edge of the mountains and high desert in southwest Idaho, putting it at the center of a world for a variety of outdoor opportunities. A network of 130 miles of Boise Foothills trails in the Ridge to Rivers Trail System is at the edge of the city limits, and one of the area’s best canoeing rivers, the Boise River, cuts right through downtown. The city of just over 214,000 is situated in a river valley that puts it within an about an hour from three whitewater rivers, hundreds of miles of high-desert trails and roads in the Owyhee Canyonlands, and trailheads on the edge of the Sawtooth Wilderness. Paddlers can pull off the river and walk 100 feet to a brew pub and plan their next adventure over a craft IPA.
In and around town is the 25-mile Greenbelt, which follows the city’s namesake river. Just east of town are the Black Cliffs, where rock climbers hone their skills early in the season before venturing far and wide across the state. Within 16 miles of the city is Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, which offers downhill and Nordic skiing and snowshoeing in winter, plus miles of mountain biking and hiking trails that link with the Ridge to Rivers Trail System.
Just 7 miles from downtown is Lucky Peak Reservoir, where flat water paddlers have miles of paddling. Paddlers and surfers don’t even need to leave town. The surf wave at the Boise River Park is popular among kayak surfers, boogie boarders, and even surfers in winter and summer.
Trails: With a network of more than 100 miles of trails a few miles from downtown in the Boise Foothills, mountain biking and hiking are serious pursuits among locals. Mountain bikers and hikers hitting trails in the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area or the Reynolds Creek area on the Owyhee Front. Bogus Basin trails provide shady lanes to escape the summer heat.
Water: Canoeists, kayakers, and stand-up paddle boarders have convenient places like Quinns Pond or the Boise River; many of the ponds along the Boise Greenbelt also provide options. For day trips, the Payette River system offers whitewater and flat water sections, as well as Lake Cascade and Payette Lake to the north.
Rock: Climbing and bouldering have been growing steadily over the years in Boise. Climbing gyms can be found throughout town, offering good launching pads for beginner climbers. Table Rock, a mountain plateau overlooking Boise, is one of the closest places to scale cliffs, and the Black Cliffs, just a few miles from downtown, offer many climbing routes on basalt columns overlooking the Boise River. Boise is also a good jumping-off point for climbing areas throughout the West.