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Long to Live in a Stunning Outdoor Oasis? Consider This Idaho City

From whitewater rafting to snow skiing, year-round fun adventures abound in Meridian.

By Cary Estes on September 24, 2021

father and child zip down mountain coaster
Welton Photography

The outdoor recreation opportunities in Meridian, ID are as wide and varied as, well, the outdoors themselves.

There are times during the year when an outdoor enthusiast can go snow skiing in the morning, then turn around a few hours later and play golf or take a whitewater rafting trip in the afternoon. Mountain biking is popular year-round, and there are parks and hiking trails galore throughout the region.

“Any level of outdoor activity that you want – hiking, running, mountain biking, rafting – you can find it pretty close to Meridian,” says Holly Finch, owner of The Pulse Running & Fitness Shop in Meridian Marketplace. “Everywhere you look, there’s somebody doing something outdoors.”

“No matter which direction you go, you’re less than an hour from something really cool.”

Alexandra Aldecoa/AIRE Whitewater

This can range from rousing (whitewater rafting down the Snake River) and relaxing (a leisurely stroll around Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park in downtown Meridian) to family-friendly foolery (Roaring Springs Water Park or Wahooz Family Fun Zone) and more contemplative, nature-oriented pursuits (hiking to Jump Creek Falls or fishing along the Snake River).

“Outdoor recreation is pretty broad in our area,” says Alexandra Aldecoa, art and marketing manager for AIRE Whitewater. “No matter which direction you go, you’re less than an hour from something really cool. It’s a great area to enjoy a little bit of everything.”

woman running with dog
Holly Cervidae

Hit the Trails to Enjoy the Spectacular Scenery

The simplest way to take in Meridian’s outdoor offerings is to start walking, hiking or cycling. Numerous trails cut through the picturesque landscape, beginning with such small local green spaces as Meridian Settlers Park and Discovery Park and stretching well into the surrounding countryside.

“We have a lot of great parks where you can do things outdoors,” Finch says. “They’re a hub for our hundreds of miles of trails into the foothills.”

Highlights include the Ridge to Rivers Trail System, a network of more than 190 miles of roads and trails linking residential neighborhoods with public lands.

Get Going!

One of the most popular pathways is Table Rock Trail, a 3.7-mile loop about a half-hour drive from Meridian. Though the route is steep in spots, Table Rock is still heavily traveled, especially when the wildflowers are in bloom.

The 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt, a pedestrian and cyclist trail, travels alongside the river from Eagle Island State Park to Lucky Peak State Recreation Area.

Other options include the 2.3-mile Mores Mountain Interpretive Trail in the Boise National Forest (another wildflower showcase) and the easy half-mile Jump Creek Falls Trail that leads to a 60-foot-high waterfall. More experienced hikers and runners can tackle the 14-mile, heavily forested Dry Creek Trail.

“My favorite trails are at Bogus Basin (also a snow skiing location that is approximately 30 miles from Meridian), because they’re so tree-covered,” Finch says. “The (7-mile) Around the Mountain Trail at Bogus Basin is a must-do. It’s just beautiful.”

people rafting down river
Cascade Raft & Kayak

Get Your Thrills on a Whitewater River

Idaho has more than 3,000 miles of navigable whitewater river, the most of any state other than Alaska, and the Meridian area has easy access to many of those rapids.

The Snake River is probably the area’s most famous waterway, but there are plenty of other rivers running through the region for whitewater adventures. These include the Payette River (which has a North Fork and South Fork, providing three different levels of rafting) and the Salmon River. At 425 miles, it is the longest un-dammed river in the U.S.

For the less intrepid, the Boise River is ideal for tubing and kayaking. “It’s an easy float,” Aldecoa says. “Maybe a couple of little ripples, but nothing too crazy. That’s one of the great things about outdoor recreation in this area. There are so many different activity options available that it allows people to grow. They can learn how to mountain bike or how to snow ski. They’re able to get out and experience nature in so many different ways.”

This opportunity for an active, outdoor lifestyle is something that is enjoyed by many in the Meridian area.

“There are so many people around here who feel that connecting with nature and creating those life experiences with family and friends adds to a whole life,” says Finch, who often leads runs with The Pulse Dirty Soles Running Group. “We just have such a great outdoor community in Meridian.”

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