This itinerary proves how easy it is to experience Boise’s great outdoors.
Outdoor adventures like hiking, biking and paddling usually require a long trek deep into the wilderness, a full tank of gas, and at least a day of PTO to accommodate the travel time. But in Southwest Idaho, outdoor excitement is quite literally around every corner.
Boise is surrounded on all sides by the Gem State’s natural crown jewels: mountains, desert and rivers — and all the recreational activities each has to offer. With nearly 200 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails located minutes from downtown, and tons of natural areas within an hour’s drive, you’ll never run out of ways to get outside around Boise.
Up for an unforgettable day? Dust off your gear. We’ve mapped out an epic one-day outdoor adventure itinerary to showcase the Boise area’s easy access to the great outdoors.
Sunrise: Hike and Boulder at Table RockGreet the day with gusto at Table Rock, a foothill of the Rockies just a short drive east from downtown Boise. Once there, hike the popular, moderately difficult 3.7-mile loop trail for an incredible sunrise view of the city and surrounding landscape.
Feeling invigorated after your one-hour hike and want more outdoor action? Follow the loop trail toward the southern edge for a morning climbing or bouldering session — BYOG (bring your own gear).
Late Morning: Take a Bike Tour Along the GreenbeltSome outdoor adventures happen right in the heart of Boise, like taking the family for a guided ride with Boise Bicycle Tours, locally owned and operated by husband and wife team Shawn and Cindy Welsh. A Boise native will guide you on your scenic journey, providing helmets, bottled water and great recommendations for locals and visitors alike. While visitors comprise most of their tour groups, Welsh says some of their favorite tours involve teaching locals about the amazing history of their city. “Everyone learns something on our tours. We love helping tourists get the most out of their visit with recommendations and local tips.”
For a great morning outside, we recommend the relaxing Greenbelt tour, which gently winds groups of six or less through parks and preserves, over bridges and through tunnels, on a traffic-free ride perfect for nearly all ages and abilities. Welsh noted they’ve welcomed guests from two months to more than 90 years of age, and the slow-paced rides do not require a high skill or endurance level. “We have always thought the best way to see any city is by bike. Boise is a great city to experience by bike; bicycle is how the locals get around. We guarantee that our guests will enjoy a truly jam-packed experience you can’t get anywhere else, without feeling like a tourist.”
Afternoon: Hit the RapidsGrab lunch to go and head 45 minutes north for an afternoon river rush. Idaho is known for its whitewater rapids, and the stretch of the Payette River between Boise and McCall is the perfect place to dip your toe in the water. A number of companies run half and full-day trips, such as the family-owned Cascade Raft & Kayak. Families will enjoy the half-day “Splash,” featuring level II-III rapids, while adrenaline-chasers may opt for the half-day “Rush” along an eight-mile section of the South Fork packed with level II-IV rapids, including the “Bronco Billy.” Both half-day trips feature multiple departure times, though the 1:30 is recommended if following this particular itinerary. Don’t forget your water shoes!
Evening: Explore Downtown’s Great OutdoorsAfter your day out on the trails and rapids, it’s time to experience the beautiful outdoors, city-style. Walk around downtown for a taste of Boise’s vibrant food and beverage scene. You might do a little shopping, enjoy some locally-crafted beer or wine, or catch live music along the riverbank during summer Wednesday evenings during the Alive After Five series. If you like your dinner with a side of culture, snag tickets to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, performed in a dedicated 770-seat outdoor amphitheater and habitat reserve.
Of course, there are endless adventures to be had in Boise, and you’ll need far more than a day to see and do them all. From renting a raft or kayak to float the Boise River, stand-up paddle-boarding at Quinn’s Pond, or skiing, snowboarding and hiking at the nearby Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, there’s always more fun awaiting tomorrow.
This article was sponsored by the Boise Metro Chamber.