Treasure Valley, Idaho, is full of gems; some are hidden, and others are shining brightly. Whether you’re a longtime resident, a tourist, or considering moving to the area, you won’t regret taking the time to explore some of southwestern Idaho’s family-friendly activities. No matter what the weather is, there is always an outdoor adventure waiting for you to try it.
1. The Boise River Greenbelt
The Boise River Greenbelt is a perfect way to escape the city without having to go too far. Just five minutes away from downtown, this 25-mile path is used by both cyclists and pedestrians to access the city’s riverside parks, view wildlife, take in the scenery, and even commute from neighboring communities. If you want to do more than just take a picturesque stroll, check out some of the many activities you can do on the Greenbelt:
You can literally look for hidden treasures in the heart of Treasure Valley by following the bicycle scavenger hunt designed by the Parks and Recreation Department. Follow 14 clues to collect the letters that will help you solve the puzzle. Along the ride, you’ll visit historical sites, statues, parks, and even a time capsule that will be opened in 2019.
Idaho Birding Trail
The Coeur d’Alene-based WREN Foundation has placed signs along the Greenbelt to help you identify some of the birds native to Idaho. Part of the Idaho Birding Trail network, this is just one of 175 such trails in the state, so if this is an activity you enjoy, check out some of the other Treasure Valley trails in McCall, Cambridge, Grandview, and other parts of southwest Idaho.
Ribbon of Jewels
Boise has a rich history of prominent female leaders in the community, and they have been celebrated with the Ribbon of Jewels, which is comprised of 10 city parks along the Greenbelt that have been dedicated to extraordinary women. This includes a detour off the paved path where you can walk along the 1.6-mile pedestrian-only walkway known as the Bethine Church River Trail, which is also where you’ll find the Idaho Birding Trail signs.
2. Givens Hot Springs
Although there are plenty of man-made water parks and pools in Treasure Valley, the true hidden gems are the natural resources for which the valley was named. Along the Snake River, southwest of Nampa, you’ll find Givens Hot Springs. Families come from all over the area to soak and swim in the naturally hot mineral water. Services are offered all year long with a climate-controlled indoor pool for ultimate comfort.
Bring your own tent or RV, or rent one of the rustic cabins or vintage trailers offered at the park. Disconnect from the world as you gather around the campfire after a relaxing day of floating in the hot springs. Pack a picnic, cook on the fire, or use the cabin kitchenette to whip up a quick meal in between soaking sessions. If you feel the need to reconnect, free Wi-Fi is available just in case.
While you’re in the area, take the time to explore some of the surrounding natural beauty. Take a hike at Jump Creek Falls to find the refreshing swimming hole at the base of a stunning waterfall. Bring your fishing gear to Bernard’s Landing and use the public boat ramp to start your day on the water. If you bring your four-wheelers along, check out Reynolds Creek Road and Rabbit Creek Road for a scenic adventure.
3. Bogus Basin
Just 16 miles northeast of Boise, Bogus Basin is a nonprofit mountain recreation area that provides year-round activities for the whole family. Whether you take lessons, join a race, bring a group, or just get a day pass, you can’t avoid having fun at this Treasure Valley gem. Bogus Basin also offers adaptive programs, so everybody can enjoy the many outdoor activities the facility has to offer.
In addition to the typical downhill and cross-country skiing you would expect at a mountain resort, Bogus Basin also offers snowshoeing and tubing. However, the most unique thing you’ll find on the mountain is the Glade Runner. This epic roller-coaster flies through the woods on a track that is more than 4,000 feet long. Like a luge, you can control the speed with a manually operated brake, or you can just let gravity take you on a wild ride through the trees.
The mountain is just as fun after the snow melts. The Glade Runner stays open all year long, so you can get your thrill fix at any time. Other summer activities include:
- Mountain biking
- Summer tubing
- A bungee trampoline
- A climbing wall
- Chairlift rides
- Disc golf
- Horseback riding
Unlimited day passes allow the entire family to enjoy all of the various activities, so you don’t have to decide who’s going to do what. Kids also enjoy the Shafer Butte Mining Company activity in which they learn a little local history while finding hidden treasures in the sluice.
4. Starlight Mountain Theatre
About an hour northeast of Boise, in Garden Valley, Starlight Mountain Theatre is a gem that glimmers primarily during the warmer months. Opened in 2000, the theatre is a summer highlight for local residents and visiting tourists. Talented performers join from all over the region, with several auditions held in both Idaho and Utah.
Every season, the company stages four classic musicals that are sure to please. The family-operated nonprofit makes the sets and costumes for the open-air theatre, which has a naturally wooded backdrop. Make an entire evening of it by having dinner with the stars. Before each show, you can enjoy a catered meal along with breathtaking scenery.
If you make the trip into the scenic countryside for a show, you have the option to spend the night on the property in your tent or RV. With 23 camping spots near the Payette River, you can have a sing-along by the campfire and fall asleep to the peaceful sounds of the water rushing by.
The fun doesn’t stop when the temperature drops. Every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the theatre transforms into a winter carnival with activities for all ages, including sleigh rides, face painting, cookie decorating, and reindeer games. You can also pick up your Christmas tree at the same time. The Christmas Tree Extravaganza is held at a theatre, so naturally there is a 15-minute show and carolers to provide entertainment.
5. The Owyhee Canyonlands
There might not be many people in this southwesternmost part of Treasure Valley, but there is plenty to do and see in Owyhee County. The Bruneau River Canyon has a pristine, turquoise river running through it, which can be seen only after walking to the overlook on the canyon rim and peeking over the edge. This gem is truly hidden.
You can take an easy walk through the sage fields along the rim of the canyon and enjoy the breathtaking view for a few miles. For more adventurous folks, the hike to the bottom of the gorge is a treasure in itself, with peaceful meadows, looming rock walls, and plenty of secret nooks and crannies along with the occasional cave. Keep your camera ready for wildlife sightings of deer, bighorn sheep, cougars, and bobcats. If you make it to the bottom, you might also get to see river otters splashing around in the current.
The river runs through the canyon for 60 miles, so there is plenty to explore on foot or on the water. Guided rafting tours take you through Class IV rapids, serene pools, and everything in between. However, the river is unpredictable and not always safe to navigate on a raft, so going with a veteran guide is recommended. One tour company provides multiday trips for people at any skill level, with upscale camping and gourmet meals.
Building in Treasure Valley
If you want to make Treasure Valley your home and build a new house, the experts at Adair Homes are here to help. Covering 14 counties in southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon, we have built affordable homes all over the region in both the bigger cities and the rustic countryside. If you’re new to the homebuilding process, our Home Ownership Counselors will help guide you through every step, from finding the right piece of land to selecting tile and other finishes.
Schedule an appointment in our Caldwell office or give us a call to learn more about how Adair Homes can help you build immediate equity while building the home of your dreams.