Back to Civilization – Hanging out in Boise, Idaho

Leaving beautiful Stanley behind, we headed down, down, down the rugged mountains to Garden City, just a few miles outside of Boise.  Steve was totally focused on driving Betsy as I enjoyed the scenery along the Ponderosa Scenic Byway, Wild Canyon Scenic Byway and the Payette River Scenic Byway.  The 130-mile drive took us from an elevation of 6,253′ in Stanley to 2,566′ at our destination- the airbed mattress was totally flat when we arrived 🙂

Steve hates missing the gorgeous scenery on challenging drives like this one

After a week of feasting our eyes on stunning natural scenery, we shifted gears to check out some man-made creations.  Garden City, Idaho is only a few miles west of Boise, the state capital.  What do we do when in a capital city?  Tour their capitol building!

Our interest in touring capitol buildings began when we were very impressed while touring the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka.  Since then we’ve made it a point to visit other capitol buildings when we can, including the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln and the North Dakota State Capitol in Bizmark. And they were all impressive.


Beautiful faux marble columns support the rotunda

The Idaho State Capitol was constructed in 1905, and a recent restoration,preservation and rehabilitation led to its rededication in 2010.

Looking way up at the interior of the dome

Boise’s capitol building was deserted when we arrived on a Sunday morning, so we enjoyed the quiet until we heard screaming from a toddler echoing through the building a while later.  It’s bothersome enough to hear that outdoors, but inside a cavernous building it can make you want to tear your hair out!  Don’t get me wrong, I like kids – I have more than 2 dozen nieces and nephews.  But in a situation like this I got a bit cranky – but I digress 😦

Gov. Otter, may I have a word?  Hello?
House chamber holds 70 members
Looking out at Capitol Boulevard toward downtown
Idaho State Capitol, the only one in the U.S. heated by geothermal water

Leaving the government building behind, we walked a few blocks to see another of man’s creations known as Freak Alley of Boise, Idaho.  It runs west between 8th and 9th streets, and has been re-decorated constantly since 2002.  Walking through the alley we saw a range of painting styles, abstract art and graffiti-like images.  We’ve seen similar use of spaces that have being transformed into unusual urban attractions.  As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

Meandering along the wet city streets, our thoughts turned to quenching our thirst via some handcrafted Idaho beers.  Locals we talked with were happy to tell us about their favorite brews, and we listened intently while taking copious notes.  We were able to visit three breweries within the city, and we both enjoyed at least one beer at 10 Barrel Brewing, Barbarian Brewing and Cloud Nine Brewery.

Steve and I have different tastes in beer; he likes stouts and porters, while I go for the lighter Hefeweizens and wheat beers.  But for once at Cloud Nine Brewery we both enjoyed the same beer – The Salted Caramel Stout – agreeing it was flavorful and delicious.

We camped at Hi Valley RV Park north of Boise, in close proximity to the Ridge to River network, 190 miles of trails in the Boise Foothills.  After replenishing supplies, completing household chores, ticking items off Betsy’s to-do list, and exploring the city it was time to head for the hills.

With dozens of trails to choose from, we settled on three – Spring Valley Creek, Hulls Gulch and Polecat Loop.  They were all moderate and followed numerous finger ridges with decent ups and downs.  We enjoyed great views of the Boise Ridgeline, Treasure Valley and the city skyline.

Looking down at the creek trail we had just completed
Hey there, where do you think you’re going?  I Hope Steve remembered his cow spray!
Steve interrupted the Deer’s peaceful breakfast
Boise skyline

These were really fun hikes, mostly in open space.  Good to start early after applying the sunblock and hat…

Along the trails, several bugs and wildflowers caught our attention:

I caught sight of a few Sagebrush Mariposa Lilies showing off their tulip-like flowers
Syringa Flowers (Idaho’s state flower) were blooming profusely

It must have been breeding season, as we heard several Lazuli Buntings singing from the shrubs.  Hearing them and the Meadowlarks made the hikes even more delightful.  Wildflowers, birds, bugs and beautiful views were the highlights of our treks.

Isn’t he handsome? – Lazuli Bunting

In less than a week we had gotten some good vibes from Boise and its suburbs – maybe a contender as a place we’ll settle down one day?




  1. Since I live in KS, when I saw your link to your tour of the capitol I went to see what pictures/impressions you had posted. I then went and looked at all your other Kansas posts. You could work for our department of tourism!

  2. Cow on the trail and Lazuli buntings LOVE LOVE LOVE! I agree, though, with the previous poster that Boise is great but the winters would be painful.

  3. We’ve begun enjoying touring the Capitols whenever we can!
    Again such amazing photography and the subject matter was fabulous!

  4. We loved Boise! We biked everywhere on the miles of trails along the river and downtown and had a blast. And I agree, the Salted Caramel Stout at Cloud Nine Brewery is the best! We also felt like Boise is a place we could live. We didn’t see Freak Alley…it’s kinda creepy! But that Lazuli Bunting is just gorgeous, and so are your wildflowers. We’ll have to check out some of those hiking trails next time we’re in the area.

    • Thanks to you, Laurel we drove to Cloud Nine Brewery and yes that stout was delicious. There are so many trails in the Boise Hills, and I think spring is the best time for wildflowers and mild temps.

  5. That stout sounds delish!

    We started full timing in Boise, spent two weeks there. It’s a nice city. I remember a nice farmers market with reasonable prices.

    • We did hear about the farmers market but we arrived there on a Sunday. We like the city too so we will continue to pay attention to its temps this summer and winter.

  6. Salted Caramel anything sounds wonderful to me! Love the far away shots of Steve, although I do wish he’d wait for you before getting so far ahead! The Bunting is beautiful as are the flowers. Pretty nice stop I’d say!

    • I can guarantee you will like that stout and the brewery boasts all their brews are organic. I did not realize I had a good shot of the Lazuli until I uploaded it in the computer, he was posing still and the light was perfect.

  7. Your photos of the state capitol building are awesome and a good reminder that we should go check those out more often. We’re supposed to head to Boise later this summer and I was looking forward to it, but keep hearing that it can be extremely hot during the summer. So, I’m not 100% sure we’re gonna be staying as long as we originally planned. We’ll see. it certainly seems like there’s a lot of fun stuff to do in the area – especially salted caramel stout. Wow!

    • Go up further north for better temps this summer. But if you do stay in Boise then you can tell us what you think of summers there. That stout was delicious and I for one is not a stout drinker.

  8. The Lazuli Bunting is gorgeous MonaLiza! Also impressive pictures of the capital building…such great depth and perception. You and Steve always find the best hikes…

    • We have reaized that after two days being cooped up we did to warm up our legs, so he research trails in the area. And we were glad that Boise and the suburbs do take care and preserve their open spaces and built trails.

  9. Fantastic images from your visit … I especially love the photo up towards the dome. It’s a shame when the drivers have to miss the scenery, so us co-pilots have to make sure we double-enjoy it for them.

  10. We have heard great things about Boise. Thanks for giving us a tour. What a great shot you got of the Lazuli Bunting! I love street art so enjoyed all the images.

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