Rivers, Mountains, Blue Sky
How About Snow Skiing In Boise Idaho?
Tons of skiing options abound within 3 hours of Boise. If you want to drive 5 hours you can be in Jackson Hole or the Salt Lake City resorts as well. From closest to farthest.
Bogus Basin - local home town resort. There is no lodging to speak of and it truly is Boise’s own. It is $149-300 a year for a seasons pass if you buy it in the spring during the sale. With over 1800 vertical feet and 3 high speed quads it is a bargain.
North of Boise one and a half hours you will find Tamarack Resort near Donnelly. Tamarack has more consistent snow than Bogus Basin. It serves skiers and snowboarders on 6 lifts and features 2800 vertical feet. The elevation at the top is 7700 feet.
At 2 hours distance and just 8 miles from McCall you will find Brundage Mountain Resort. Brundage has a lot of powder pockets, but also lots of cat tracks to get back to the base lifts, problematic for boarders. Brundage also boasts a great cat skiing operation and bills itself as having the best snow in Idaho with 320 inches at the base each year! About the same vertical as Bogus Basin at 1800 feet
Both are great weekend getaways. Lots of people have cabins up that way and get a season pass there rather than at Bogus Basin. Pass prices are $369 during the spring sale at Brundage and $429 at Tamarack. I will say Tamarack has a great $99.00 special for college students.
World class Sun Valley lies just 2.5 hours east of Boise and provides a true glam jam. Skiing, skating, cross country, great apres ski festivities, 5 star restaurants, movie stars and high prices to match. If you are fine with the pricing structure it is an awesome mountain. 3000 vertical feet of the best grooming in the world. Upper River is a great bump run, a lot of the early Warren Miller bump sets where filmed here. The bowls for powder hounds and Seattle Ridge for the intermediates in the group! The deal at Sun Valley is the preseason rent a room and get a pass! We went 2 years ago and hit a heavenly 2 days for powder lovers. No lines, 2 feet of fresh at a bargain basement price! I might add the Ketchum- Sun Valley area has an extensive array of trails for cross country skiing as well, but early season they are not all open.
Where Can I Cross Country Ski Near Boise?
Boise area Cross Country skiing is great too. The Bogus Basin Nordic Center is a complete Olympic training center (not officially but it has the stuff) in and of itself. Stay on The Highway and enjoy the views or drop onto the Lower Loop or head up to Mores Mountain if you think you have it in you! No dogs allowed at Bogus Basin, but they do allow snowshoeing and fat bikes! The state runs a less formal Park & Ski trail system where you buy a $25 dollar parking pass and visit any of the regional park and ski locations. These are groom only bi weekly so not the best for skate skiers, but some allow dogs. For dogs try the free Hasbrouck Ranch off Cabarton road near Cascade. The McCall area has numerous private skiing operations and a great trail system run in the Ponderosa State park as well. Many allow dogs but only on limited trails. Jughandle Ranch and Bear Basin are both worth a try.
Where Do People Who Live In Boise Waterski and Wakeboard?
Lucky Peak Reservoir- 6 miles from downtown this is the afternoon evening favorite of everybody!
Arrowrock Reservoir- Just upstream of Lucky Peak and 30 minutes farther drive you will find solitude and long slender rim rock canyons lining the water. Head way up either arm for solitude and camping.
Black Canyon Reservoir- 45 minutes northwest this small impoundment is a great quickie for those living in Eagle. Smallmouths bass fishing is reputed to be sensational as well.
Anderson Ranch Reservoir- 1.5 Hours East past Mountain Home is a huge reservoir that is tree lined and with spectacular scenery. Bring your fishing pole!
CJ Strike- Giant reservoir on the Snake River 1.5 hours southwest. Desert setting, camping, fishing, hunting solitude.
Brownlee Reservoir- 1.45 hours west. This 40 mile long snake river reservoir is great for water sports, fishing, camping and bird hunting.
The list goes on, Cascade, Payette Lakes at under 2 hours offer the spectrum. Alturas, Pettite, Stanely and Redfish Lakes, and Deadwood Reservoir are all about 2.5 hours.
Is There A Surf Wave In The Boise River?
Yes, Adjacent to Quinn's Pond you will find the first phase of the Boise Whitewater Park completed. The managers can raise and lower 2 waveshapers. The managers set the wave for surfers one day and kayakers the next. HERE is a link to the Boise Whitewater park Facebook page.
What About Golf And Tennis In Boise?
The populous of Boise is young and active so golf courses and tennis facilities are around every corner. For tennis all the public junior high and high schools have public courts that are free to play tennis on so long as the kids are not using them. Many of the city parks have free courts as well If you are a little more serious and are looking for an actual tennis club, there are two. Eagle recently built an indoor tennis facility called Eagle Tennis Club that offers amenities to kids as young as four years old with youth and junior clubs. Think tennis club inside a Costco sized building.The other, The Boise Racquet and Swim club has outdoor hard courts, outdoor clay courts, and indoor courts, a total of 23 courts! They also have junior programs for the kids. Finally all of the Caddy Shack style country clubs have tennis, in addition to golf and club house amenities.
Is golf more your cup of tea? Boise has that covered as well. With all the sun hardcore golfers play almost year round. We have several really good municipal courses like Warm Springs and Quail Hollow. Many fine private courses as well, The Banbury Golf Club and Eagle Hills come to mind here. Then of course we have the traditional country clubs with golf, tennis, pool and club house. Hillcrest Country Club, Plantation Country Club, Crane Creek Country Club and The Club At Spurwing. Our country clubs offer pools, clubhouses, dining, social events year-round, and tennis courts all alongside fantastic golf courses. Complete with food minimums each month these are more of a lifestyle not a hobby. All Golf Course Descriptions
Answers To 101 Questions About Moving To Boise
What About Whitewater Rafting Close To Boise?
There is good reason two of the worlds largest raft manufacturing companies call Boise home! The state has literally thousands of miles of white water to run. On more than 10 rivers you will find world famous runs like the Lochsa and Selway to more local or regionally known runs on the Payette and Boise rivers! Start with a beginner stretch in town on the Boise river or on the Swirly Canyon of the Payette and work your way up to hair raising class 5 runs like the North Fork Of The Payette or the Deadwood River, both just an hour from town! One of Boise Idahos most popular summer time activities is floating the Boise river from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park. An event that is complete with rental facility at the put in and a shuttle bus at the take out, family fun is waiting! There are tons of great websites out there that outline the options, but rest assured you can get off work at 5 on a summer evening and be running class 1 or class 5 by 6 o'clock. If you have a weekend the over nighter options are endless. From the stunning Bruneau to the world class fishing section on the South Fork Of The Boise, world class rafting is at hand!
Whitewater Rafting Near Boise
Closest-Farthest Drive Times
Main Payette- Class III, 45 minutes
"Bring The Kids"
South Fork Payette- Staircase- IV, 55 minutes
North Fork Payette/Jacobs Ladder Section- Class V, 55 minutes
South Fork Payette/Swirly Canyon- Class II, 65 minutes
South Fork Payette/Canyon Section- Class IV, 80 minutes
North Fork Payette/Cabarton- Class III, 80 minutes
"Another Kid Friendly Run"
South Fork Payette/Whoop Em Up- Class III, 85 minutes
"Won't See Another Boat"
Middle Fork Salmon- Class IV, 3 hours
"Lovely, Abundant High Water Permits Every Year"
Main Salmon/Riggins- Class III, 3 hours
"Better The Lower It Gets"
Main Salmon/Stanley- Class III, 3 hours
"Best When Dam Is In Play"
South Fork Salmon- Class V, 3 hours
"Technically Sound Boaters Only"
Lochsa- Class IV, 5.5 Hours
"Stellar, Long Wave Train Rapids, One Punch In The Face"
The Main Salmon, Selway, Bruneau and Owyhee Rivers are all world class multi day trips and all worthy, however long it takes to get there. See you on the river!
Natural Hot Springs Close To Boise!
It is practically universally agreed, natural hot springs are therapeutic, relaxing and pretty much sensational! Franklin D. Roosevelt was a big fan and so am I. Idaho in general and southwest Idaho is packed with all shapes and sizes. From all natural springs, left as nature intended. They are there for the taking 24/7, mostly on Blm or United States Forest Service land. Others are commercially developed springs with swimming pool style accommodations . The locales are often in inspiring locations, from those in the Owyhee Canyonlands, to hot pots along the world famous Middle Fork of the Salmon River, a little research and effort will yield some unforgettable moments stargazing, camping and soaking. The diversity is endless, choose road side easy access year round affairs like Trail Creek near Warm Lake or Kirkham near Lowman. If you are looking for an un roaded setting hike into Fire Crew near Crouch. If you are looking for an all to yourself experience in the wilderness try Bear Valley which is a 4 mile hike from Fir Creek Campground. There are two ways to get there. Both have challenges, with either bush whacking on right for a mile below campground til trail crosses or cross on bridge at trail head and ford creek which can be treacherous in high water. The spring is on the right a quarter mile above the confluence of Marsh and Bear Valley Creeks. There is everything in between, the boatman’s box downstream from Stanley alongside Highway 93 to the hot springs dotting the map in The Frank Church Wilderness Area! Rafters on the Middle Fork Of The Salmon enjoy the likes of Trail Creek at mile 7, Sheepeater at mile 12, Sunflower Flats at mile 32 ish and Loon Creek at mile 50. All 4 of these are wonderful in their own way, along the Lochsa river, Stanley Creek, Jerry Johnson Hot Springs and Weir Creek are all hikes and all worth it! Family and grandma in tow? Enjoy easy access by trying Gold Fork or Burgdorf. If you don’t mind sharing and want a world class tub next to the road, Trail Creek off the Warm lake Highway would be my first stop! I have driven past this one 25 times in the last 5 years and only 3 times have I had it to myself. Need some help, feel free to pick up the phone and I can help you figure out which one might be right for your first visit to a world class Idaho soaking.
Hot Springs In Boise Idaho!
The Springs Resort (commercial)
45 minute drive on Hwy 21 close to Idaho City
Availability: All Year
Roy Stone Hot Springs (commercial)
1 hour drive from Boise Between Horseshoe Bend & Emmett
Availability: All Year
Little Anderson Hot Spring (public)
1.25 hour drive from Boise close to Garden Valley Id.
Hot Springs Campground (public)
1.5 hour drive from Boise just past Garden Valley Air Strip
Availability: All Year
Pine Flats Hot Springs (public)
1.75 hour drive from Boise 3 miles before Lowman off Highway 17
Availability: All Year
Miracle Hot Springs Resort (commercial)
1.75 hour drive from Boise near Snake river past Bliss
Availability: All Year
Trail Creek Hot Spring (public)
1.5 Hours on Warm Lake Highway 5 miles before Warm Lake
Availability: All Year
Hot Springs 2+ Hours from Boise
Rocky Canyon Hot Springs (public)
2 hour drive from Boise turn left past Crouch
Availability: Late Summer-Fall
Kirkham Hot Springs (public)
2 hour drive from Boise 8 miles past on Highway 21 Lowman
Availability: All Year
Fire Crew Hot Springs (public)
2 hour drive from Boise to Crouch and beyond
Bonneville Hot Springs (public)
2.25 hour drive from Boise 15 miles past Lowman
Availability: All Year
Burgdorf Hot Spring (commercial)
2.5 hours.. 25 miles North of McCall off Warren Wagon road
Availability: Spring Summer Fall
Sugah Hot Springs
2.5 hours Between mile marker 15 and 16 on South Fork Salmon Road
Availability: All Year
Gold Fork Hot Springs (commercial)
2.5 hour drive from Boise turn east on Gold Fork road
Availability: All Year
Silver Creek Plunge Hot Springs (commercial)
2.5 hour drive from Boise left past Crouch
Availability: All Year
Twin Springs Resort (commercial)
2.5 hour bone jarring drive from Boise just after Arrow Rock reservoir turns to river
Availability: All Year
Boiling Springs Cabin and Hot Springs (private/public)
2.5 hour drive from Boise Left at Crouch
Availability: All Year
What About Fishing Near Boise?
Tremendous opportunities for over 15 species of fish Trout, Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, Catfish, Sturgeon, Salmon, Steelhead, Kokanee, Whitefish, Perch, Walleye, Carp, Pike Minnow, Carp. In the Boise river through town you will find wild Rainbows and Brown trout. You will also find hatchery raised planters. The largest Brown trout caught out of the Boise was caught by Ed Hedges in the 1990’s and weighed over 30 lbs. It was a big ugly hog. Travel a little farther afield and find world class small mouth Bass fishing in the Snake river 40 miles south of town. Large mouth top water action can be had at Lake Lowell just south of Nampa! Troll in the reservoirs for trout and kokanee or plunk a worm into one of Idaho’s numerous family fishing lakes that are stock each week! Climb to high mountain lakes for some solitude or catch a cooler full of crappie off the dam at CJ Strike. The options and variety is nearly endless! I will outline a few of the options below for each species. Here is the link to Idaho Department Of Fish & Game.
Trout- Rainbows- In addition to the Boise river through town, world class dry fly action can be had on the South Fork Of The Boise River 1 hour east of town. No Bait just flies or lures, Salmon flies, Caddis, Hoppers and Pink Alberts rule the river. This is an absolute blue ribbon world class tail water fishery. Friends from Montana and Alaska were both floored when one of the numerous 19 inch rainbows went on a high flying run! You can keep 1 over 20 inches if you are so inclined but nobody does. Since it is dam controlled they will usually run it at 1600 cfs or higher depending on snow pack for a large part of the summer. These higher flows are more user friendly for floating. Later in the summer the flows will be cut to 600 cfs and while you can still float it, wading becomes the better option for hardcore's. There are two sections Anderson Ranch Dam down to Danskin which has a road along it and all public access is the most popular. The lower Roadless canyon section is stellar, but recent flash floods have created 2 difficult rapids that preclude drift boats and novice rowers. Buffalo rapid, see photo above, Class IV+ depending on flows has cleaned up last year and is easier, but it has claimed a couple of lives so proceed with caution. Scout and portage on the left. Additionally some of the high mountain lakes have been planted with Rainbows and the Owyhee river in Eastern Oregon has many large rainbows as well.
Brown trout- While the Boise in town is a great midnight full moon mouse session waiting to happen, and a great run to hit after work, the best option for fly fisherman looking to stick Browns is the Owyhee river an hour west just over the state line in Oregon. People midge in the winter and throw a variety of flies as the seasons change. Monster 20 inch plus Browns and Rainbows in this tail water river. Almost exclusively waded but you will see an occasional kick boat.
West Slope Cutthroat- The central Idaho wild and scenic rivers are all stuffed with this beautiful and often not so educated trout. The Middle Fork Of The Salmon is famous for 100 fish days. Word on the street has it that a hike up some of the larger tributaries like Loon Creek and Big Creek may yield slightly larger fish than the main stem as the water drops. The Selway is reputed to have an overall larger stock of fish with 18 inchers not uncommon. If a week long rafting trip is not for you the South Fork Of The Salmon, the Lochsa, the lower Selway or Kelly and Cayuse Creeks are all available to drive to and may well be the most beautiful of them all. I would be remiss if I did not at least mention Eastern Idaho, Henry’s Fork, Henry’s Lake and tons more just 5 hours away!
High Mountain Lakes- Many of the high mountain lakes naturally reproduce and a lot of those that do not are stock by the Idaho department of fish and game. A large part of the fun is not knowing what may jump on your hook. Some of the best days I have ever had have been lake hopping in the Sawtooths and Salmon river mountains. Go for a day or a week. Visit 1 lake or 50 of them.
One of my favorite areas that has 4 or 5 lakes and is great for families is the Langer Lakes complex near Banner Summit on Highway 21. With some lakes holding rainbows over 20 inches and others in which you catch an 8 incher every cast it is a perfect trip for families. On top of that it is a fairly easy hike and numerous camp sites exist. The biggest climb is right out of the truck.It can be an out and back daytrip, a multi day or you can also do as 20 mile thru thru hike to Dagger Falls. It is 10 miles to the river from the trailhead. Then you have 10 great miles of solitude on the un-rafted section of the upper Middle Fork Of The Salmon. It is a world class backpacking fishing experience.
Salmon and Steelhead- Catchable numbers have been returning for the last 15 or 20 years to the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers. The run's strength is weak with historically low number returning to provide just enogh hatchery fish to have a season. In the fall fly fisherman can try their luck swinging dry flies on the Clearwater, and the Grande Rhonde near Hells Canyon. The future is in doubt here. The science says the 4 lower Snake river dams need to go to have a realistic chance to get numbers inching upward.
Bass- Smallmouth fishing is hot all summer long on the snake river from Twin Falls to Lewiston. Some sections are known for tons of 12 inchers, like Swan Falls to Walters Ferry and other sections hold trophy sized fish in good numbers. The Payette river from Black Canyon Reservoir down is also a great for Smallmouth action.
Largemouth fishing in Idaho is primarily in Lake Lowell just outside of Nampa. They are ferocious in the spring when spawning on top.
Panfish- Crappie, Bluegill. All the ponds along the Boise and Payette rivers offer pan fish action, but if you are trying to fill the freezer any of the reservoirs along the snake river are solid bets, CJ Strike, Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon reservoirs can all be awesome depending on year and time of year.
Perch- Cascade reservoir is the king near Boise when it comes to this tasty fish. Numbers and size fluctuate year to year, but when it is right…wowza. Say fish fry three times and click your heels together!
Walleye- Salmon Falls reservoir is the only place. I know not a thing other than they are there!
Sturgeon- All catch and release on this hard fighting air borne prehistoric relic. Catch fish to 8 or 9 feet in the Snake River in Hells Canyon and the deeper holes all along the river.
Where Is The Best Camping Near Boise?
Camping opportunities on millions of acres of public land is as abundant as it is diverse in style. Choose from highly organized glamping with showers, paved parking, fire pits and picnic tables all of which you will find at Ponderosa State Park in McCall or around Redfish Lake in Stanley. Get your check book out and enjoy your neighbors barking dog. Alternatively you can pull your rv into or pitch your tent at thousands of undeveloped wide spots by the river, creek or lake., The USFS calls this “dispersed camping”, which will consist of a wide spot next to a river or stream or just in the middle of nowhere close to your trail head, hot spring or the next day’s climb or hunt. There may or may not be a fire ring, definitely no toilet. No checkbook require and not so many neighbors if you choose wisely. In between there are hundreds of USFS campgrounds with vault toilets, fire rings and tables. The vast majority are first come first serve! There is a nominal fee and these sites typically are set near a river lake or other attraction. Off the grid camping is always there for back packers and hikers whom want to get away from it all.
With two thirds of the state being public land, the opportunities are endless and there is camping in every direction from Boise. The closest forest service campground is just 25 miles away near Bogus Basin at Mores Mountain and 55 minutes north along Hwy 55. Below I will outline several of the areas that are close to Boise and a few that are exceptional for the scenic values and solitude. I will focus on the USFS campgrounds, but where they lie rest assure there are plenty that lie waiting for no fee nearby these.
East past Mountain Home and Arrowrock reservoir, the area along the Middle and South Fork Boise river offer thousands of camping spots! Throw in Anderson ranch reservoir, the world class fly fishing and a boat load of hot springs and you just may have found your new favorite place!
North towards McCall along highway 55 offers a multitude of camping spots. Turn at Banks on Highway 17 and find Garden Valley, Lowman and Stanley. The Sawtooths mountains offer an Idaho scenic splendor that rivals the Tetons, many say the views are better!. But here you will find no crowds that go along with our more famous cousins to the east. If you want a little more elbow room, try one of the undeveloped wide spots along Highway 21 between Lowman and the Grandjean turn off. Looking for a great hike along the river to fish and soak in the hot springs? Try Fir creek camp ground in Bear Valley or if you are feeling lucky camp at Dagger Falls campground and see if you can spot a salmon jumping the falls!
North and West 1 to 2 hours lies all the Snake River reservoirs, Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon. Areas Popular with Turkey hunters in the spring are near Council and Cambridge. Boat camping on beach’s along the reservoir’s is popular. There are organized camping in both public and private campgrounds! Great fishing and hunting abound!
South in the Owyhee Canyons you will find more solitude, rock hounding and unique rock formations that you can shake your fire stirring stick at! But few developed raods let alone campgrounds. There is a nice campground where the Owyhee Canyon Back Country By-way crosses the North Fork Of the Owyhee. It is a great place to start your Owyhee Adventure. For outstanding geological discoveries and rock hounding visit the Jordan Craters and camp near Owyhee Reservoir in Leslie Gulch. Keep an eye out for wildlife as California Bighorn Sheep inhabit the canyon here! Beware if you get off the byway’s graveled base and the roads are wet or rain is in the forecast you will need water, food, chains, tow strap and shovel. It is greasy and even those with the best equipment have become stranded or stuck. The road to Leslie Gulch becomes a skating rink with even just a passing shower! Have fun be safe and let someone know where you are headed.
Central Idaho is a bonanza as well. From Riggins North and East you will find the main salmon river with Caribbean style beach’s that you can pull right up to. From the South Fork of the Clearwater near Elk City to the unique “costal climate" and cedar groves of the Lochsa river camping in Idaho is world class.
Wilderness areas In Idaho are expansive. With more acres of wilderness than any other state except Alaska, diverse and empty are the keywords here. With less than 1.5 million people in the state and the most wilderness, with a few exceptions you won’t see another. The Frank Church “River Of No Return” Wilderness Area and The Selway Bitterroot Wilderness Anchor the System. But all the others have their place as well. The Gospel Hump, The Sawtooths, and the Boulder White Cloud Complex. They are so big and so many a lifetime is not enough. I have still barely dipped my toe into the Owyhee’s and have never set foot in the Gospel Hump or the Selkirk’s.
From high mountain lakes to river side retreats camping is endless. Rent out a wilderness forest service cabin or lookout for a unique experience. For fisherman I strongly encourage a through hike of Meadow Creek on the Selway. Rent out the retired Meadow Creek Ranger Station. It is picturesque, a small meadow setting with a great front porch. Start near Red River and finish near Selway Falls. Two good spots to be surrounded by wilderness but are car campable would be upper Loon Creek accessed up The Yankee Fork or Seafoam road Both near Stanley. Hike down 5 miles and your wife and kids can hot spring while you fish.
Choose wisely, On a hot summers day the more popular trails in the Sawtooth's feel more like Yellowstone than Yellowpine. Hike downstream from Dagger Falls and meet some of the 10,000 people who float the famous Middle Fork Of The Salmon river, Hike upstream and you may need to chase the moose and bears off the trail!
What Can You Hunt Near Boise?
The opportunities to hunt in Idaho are endless. With more variety of game animals and loads of public land. Combine that with few people, hunting in Idaho is easy, close and world class. Most big game species like deer, elk, bear, wolf, cougar are over the counter. Birds live on both public and private land so permission or expensive access fees are for hunters in other states. Turkeys, chukars, quail and huns are abundant on public lands. Water fowlers can find ducks and geese statewide. Almost all of the waterways are public and so long as you stay below the high water mark you are legal. Near Boise a float on the lower Payette or Boise rivers can yield a limit in short order. The islands along the Snake River are popular for those with a motor boat and a few bags of decoy's. Of course we have controlled lottery style hunts too. One draw for Antelope, Deer and Elk and another for Moose, California & Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats too. Here is a list of species I have hunted with in 1 hour of Boise. Deer, Elk, Turkey, Bear, Mountain Lion, Pheasant, Quail, Chukar, Hun, Duck, Geese.
The skinny on big game is a little different for each species. There are controlled hunts for those looking for Boone and Crockett type antlers. Apply in the spring and get results by the end of June. The over the counter tags go on sale on July 10 for residents. For deer and elk many will put in for one of these coveted tags and then grab an over the counter tag if they do not draw. For the once in a lifetime tags, moose, goat and sheep, you can only apply for 1 species each year in addition to an application for antelope, deer and elk. Below I will outline the basics for deer and elk tags.
Deer Hunting Questions? - The over the counter deer tags work like this. There is a regular deer tag, and a whitetail tag. The regular tags work for either whitetail or mule deer in the units with seasons listed under general deer seasons. Typically the hunts are October 10 to 31. Some of the back country units open September 15 and some of the units near Emmett close October 24. So you need to study the regulations a little to cover your hiney. The whitetail tag is only good for whitetails and only in the units and time periods listed in the regulations for the whitetail tag. The whitetail tag is no good on a mule deer. These hunts are typically November and part of December for some of the units. Whitetails live primarily north of the Salmon river. Recently the whitetails have migrated further south but in limited numbers.
Elk Hunting Too? - The Idaho Fish & Game split the state up into 28 zones for elk sometime in the 1990’s, rather than go all controlled. Basically you have to pick your weapon and area and that is what you have. Typically each zone will have an A and B tag. The A tag is usually a bow tag for September and the B tag is typically a rifle tag for October. Most of the zones incorporate 2 or 3 “units”. The units are still used for deer and boundaries for the elk zones, but each zone will have the same regulations for all the units included, usually. It is all a little complicated. But once you pick your zone and get a tag it is easy enough. To make it all the more confusing, some zones like the Pioneers and Weiser River have an over the counter A tag for bow, but the B tag is a controlled rifle tag. The Boise river zone has an week long hunt in November for rifle and a late bow season, but no bow hunt in the rut. Some of the zones like The Lochsa and Sawtooths have a quota on over the counter tags and will sell out in an hour while other zones have no limit on the amount of elk tags available. So if you want to hunt a zone with quota’s get on it on July 10, some zones like the Sawtooth zone sell out same day. The IDFG established the quota’s back when the wolf numbers were out of control. Now that the elk have recovered so prolifically, maybe they will relax those a little going forward.
What Is The Cost To Go Upland Bird Hunting
Zero... in access fees. Near Boise, pheasant is almost entirely on private land except for a few islands and public along the snake river. There are also some pay spots at wildlife management areas run by the IDFG with released birds.
Chukars and huns live in similar terrain and it is mostly public and free, The chukars like rockier terrain and the huns prefer a little more grass and near agricultural fields. That said in every direction from Boise you will find both on an abundance of public land almost all with birds. The generous limits of 8 chukars, 8 huns and 10 quail will have your feet worn out trying to limit out! East is the Boise river drainage. The middle and south forks hold the best numbers, west you will find Brownlee reservoir which is big, bad and loaded with birds when the numbers are up. South the Bruneau and Owyhee Canyonlands have been known to produce more than one limit of birds. To the north the mountainous river canyons of the Salmon river have birds and you can steelhead fish too on the main... cast and blast! Many hard core chukar hunters will buy an Oregon liscence to hunt the eastern expanses.
Quail are found in agricultural land and all the river bottoms near Boise. Small creeks in the mountains and valleys below where you will find the chukars can produce some fast action as well.
Turkeys were introduced into Idaho in 1963. After 50 years of transplanting and natural expansion, birds can be found from Eastern Idaho all the way to Canada. Mostly Merriam’s, there are a few Eastern’s around Dworshak reservoir and some Rio Grande’s along the lower Boise and Payette rivers. Near Boise you will find them from Old Fort Boise near Parma upstream to Idaho City and South to the South Fork of the Boise river. On and off pockets will be gobbling from Boise all the way north and west to the Oregon border. Cambridge and Council, specifically Hornet Creek holds excellent bird numbers! There is no question that the numbers from the Salmon river north are the most consistent. Idaho allows 2 tags for spring turkey hunting. But if you buy an Oregon license as well you can hunt turkeys til you can’t call anymore!
Grouse of five different varieties are waiting. Blues up high are a sensational first hunt of the fall. Grouse opens September 1 and closes on December 31, statewide. Ruffed grouse seem to frequent the brushy creek bottoms and old burns. All the mountainous public land holds grouse! It is legal to take them in just about any way you can get your hands on them. Spruce grouse commonly known as fools hens by the old timers have been known to land in the dinner pot after a gentle tap on the head with a stick!
I Love Duck Hunting, How Is That?
Duck and Goose hunting near Boise is best along the Boise, Payette and Snake Rivers. That said geese love all the green grass and un molested parks in Boise and a good field just outside the city limits on private land can be your best bet for honkers. Early season you may have better luck at higher elevation haunts like Carey lake, Silver Creek or even Deadwood reservoir! Numbers in the valley just do not stack up until big storms start to plow through in early December.
Idaho is waiting for the hunter in you! There is always something to hunt, chukar season itself is 4.5 months and ends January 31. Follow that with cougar, bobcats and coyotes all winter. Wolf has become a popular species to out smart as well. Turkey day in Idaho is April 15 and you can call one in until May 25.
Here is an epic hunt option that combines deer, elk, bear, grouse, chukar, trout, steelhead, turkey and maybe a wolf. Time it right and bring steel you can waylay a duck or goose along the way! Here it is. Depart Boundary Creek on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River on or about October 10. Stop just below cliff on right at 2 miles and proceed up Lincoln Creek trail, shoot elk or deer along the way. If you actually shoot an elk this early in the trip it is probably worth packing it back to the truck. There are large mule deer that haunt the high peaks here. Continue rafting downstream in search of et al. Expect to start seeing chukar at Thomas Creek. I hear the waterfall Creek is a good spot to surpirse a bugling bull. Turn the corner and onto the main and trade your trout rod for a steelhead setup! Also your elk tag is good on river right all the way to Mackay Bar. 2 weeks of absolute heaven. Take out at Vinegar Creek after 170 miles of fins and feathers with a few hot springs thrown in! You might need 2 rafts to carry them all.
The options for hunting in Idaho are nearly endless, the access is typically obtained with a good map and if you pick right you can have it all to yourself!
What About Shooting Near Boise?
With gun ownership in Idaho at twice the national average, you can bet your last clip of ammo that we have a lot of places to shoot in the Boise Metro Area. A whopping 56% of the residents of Idaho own a gun, the third highest in the United States, behind Alaska and Arkansas. From indoor ranges with controlled conditions to the free range located on Highway 17 in Garden Valley, shooting is easy. Top that off with the amazing amount of public land which equals two thirds of the state and taking the grand kids out to plink with the .22 is really easy.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game in conjunction with the Eedahow Long Rifle Society have a range south of Boise, The Blacks Creek Public Rifle Range. As the name implies, it is open to the public for a small fee. I count no less than 7 other ranges in the Boise metro area including, Parma Rod and Gun Club, Nampa Rod and Gun Club, or the Pickle Butte Shooting Range near Marsing. The list goes on. For many, an empty hillside south of Marsing on BLM land, a rocky bluff East of Boise near Mountain Home or North into one of the National forests is more to their liking. A drive of 1 to 2 hours lands you at 100’s of safe and sane places to set up some cans and bottles and let er rip. The high number of gun owners may be in part to the great hunting we have here, but I will bet you it also contributes to the ultra low violent crime numbers you will find throughout the Boise, and Meridian Idaho areas.
The two best indoor ranges are the Independence Indoor Shooting Range and Impact Guns In Boise. At Independence, for example, you will find a world class facility. 3 ranges including a static tapered range, a full tactical range and a 100 meter rifle range. Climate controlled, well-lit and and hepa filtered means they are leading the industry. All calibers up to 50 Bmg are welcome. Come as you are or get a membership which entails an upfront fee of $50 and then $35 dollars a month. This gains you access to the 25 yard static and tactical ranges and gets you a discount on the 100 meter rifle range. Whatever your style or size, be it staying sharp for the next event or just being ready to protect yourself and your loved ones, Boise is for shooter.
What Are The Gun Ownership Laws In Idaho?
Basically if you are over 21 and a resident of Idaho, you can open or concealed carry in the entire state with just a few exceptions, schools, college dorms and sporting arenas that seat 1000+ people. The court house is a no-no. There are no rules or laws with regards to magazine size, number of guns, or licensing. Cities may enact additional regulations and federal rules still apply. However if you want to carry while not in Idaho you will need to take an 8 hour course and prove you can shoot a minimum of 98 rounds to get your “Enhanced Concealed Weapons Licence”.
What Other Outdoor Recreation Opportunities Are There?
Mountain Biking - Boise has perfect terrain and trails for mountain biking. In fact, did you know… National Geographic named Boise in their America’s top 20 BEST mountain biking towns. You can check that out here. Mountain Bike magazine names Boise top 5 in the country all the time. With over 90 trails in the Boise, Eagle and Meridian areas you can experience it for yourself. Between the Greenbelt and the Ridge To Rivers trail system you may not have any time to check out the surrounding areas. Celebration Park on the Snake River near Melba is one of these. It is also a great area for bouldering, Who doe not love a twofer. A few popular rides in town include “Table Rock Tech” a 3.6 mile rocky trail that will guide you to the main ‘Table Rock’ trail. A popular look out that’s awesome to check out the valley, as it overlooks all of Boise. From the main trail you can veer off into the “Rock Island loops” a little difficult due to it being extremely rocky so careful with this one but thrilling nonetheless. One of the easier trails is the “Showcase”. It stretches 15.3 miles. A giant loop so very nice for a leisure ride. This trail has little shading so be aware of that during the summer months.
Bogus Basin Music on the Mountain - Our local ski hill has been taken over by a new manager...eck change. No more night skiing for cross country and a bent to make it a year round resort. Offering trails and terrain for mountain biking and also features ‘Music on the Mountain’. Do not leave out the new roller coaster "luge" ride. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy the live music. If mountain biking isn’t your thing you can hike too. They allow chairlift rides to the top of the mountain where you can check out some pretty incredible views. Music sessions usually launch in early July continuing into September.
Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway - Talk about a beautiful view. A wonderful first shot of Idaho. A dirve through The Boise National Forest, which is located north east of the city, offers glimpses of deer and elk, soaks in hot springs, lunch in Stanley and more. The backc ountry drive covers portions of The Boise River, Lucky Peak Reservoir, and features the deep blue pools along the South Fork of the Payette River. The whole drive is about 3 hours one way Boise to Stanley. It’s truly a must see when it comes to all the wonderful nature Idaho has to offer. It would make a great day trip. Stop into historic Idaho City one of Idaho’s famous ghost towns once known during the gold rush to give up more gold than all of Alaska – Estimated about $100 million. Lot of Idaho history there! The byway can be done as a loop as well through Sun Valley, or turn right on Highway 17 at Lowman on your way back to see the lower half of the river and the garden Valley area as well.
Rock Hounding- Idaho is the Gem State! We are rich with gemstones. Rock hounding is a popular in Idaho due to the land being so full of these small treasures. There are quite a few places to check out near Boise. One would be the Sawtooth mountain region with loads of Smokey Quartzs. Also present is a beryl, the Aquamarine, the quality here is matched almost nowhere else in the world. Beware though collecting the SNRA itself is prohibited. Drive about an hour drive in the other direction past Homedale, and Marsing, Here, near the Oregon state line you will find Graveyard Point and Opalene Gulch. Just over the state line in Oregon Succor creek empties into the snake river. From this point upstream for 40 miles there are thundereggs and Geodes, Jasper and Opal, as well as petrified wood and fossils in the upper end back in Idaho. Access Succor creek by either going through Homedale or out Highway 95 south of Marsing. Another great spot, about an hour away from Boise going south is Hagerman, Idaho where the Hagerman Fossil Beds are.
Is Riding 4 wheelers And Snowmobiles and Explore The Public Lands Close By?
Riding 4 wheelers and Explore The Public Lands - Two thirds of the state is public land. Get out there and explore all these lands on trails, mining roads, logging roads and more. Just over the county line from Boise in Owyhee county is the Hemingway Butte, Fossil and Rabbit Creek Off Highway Vehicle Area. Including a wide range of trails and access for every size and shape of rider. For those of you wanting to tear it up with out restriction, there is a 200 acre site at the Hemingway Butte site with out restrictions. Aside from that please stay on current trails and roads.Since there are no restrictions on trails with snowmobiles, just drive to the snow, pull and go! Visiting and want to give it a try before committing to buying your own off road toy? There are many places throughout the Valley that offer rentals for you to go out and explore the beauty that is Idaho. From boats, to jet skis, to ATV and UTVs the possibilities are endless. A few good rental spots to check out are Intermountain Power Sport Rentals in Nampa, ID and Cascade, ID, Rent For Fun has a few ATV rentals in Boise, CM Backcountry Rentals in McCall, ID and Redline Rec Toys in Meridian, ID.
Is Snowkiting Scary?
Yes....Snowkiting is done with snowboards or skis and a kite to cruise through open snowy terrain. Idaho Kitesports in Boise, makes that dream come true. Really you can add kiting to whatever outdoor sport you would like land boards, buggies etc. They also offer kiteboarding courses so you can learn how to power the kites before you take them out for optimal experience. Bogus Basin Mountain would be awesome for snowkiting and then there are a few lakes in the valley that would be perfect for wakeboard kiting, we have lucky peak reservoir, and Indian Creek Reservoir both not too far from town at all!
Are There Weekend Getaways Guest Ranch's With Views?
A large number of guest ranches throughout the state offer a multitude of ways to relax or recreate. Some are luxurious, some not so much. Drive to one, fly in to another. Some have views, some have fishing. Others will take you on a trail ride. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch- Just outside of Stanley, this retired cattle ranch has a million dollar hot spring and a two million dollar view of the Sawtooth’s. Make it what you will, wine and dine with dinner prepared by the Chef and relax in the private hot spring or go recreate from this unparalleled base camp. Rafting on the Main Salmon River, mountain biking or chase the steelhead that return to the river each March and April are all favorite pastimes.
Diamond D Ranch- This remote ranch located deep in the Salmon River Mountains will take you back 100 years. Driving here is possible for high clearance 2 wheel drive vehicles. Perched along the banks of Loon Creek in the Frank Church Wilderness Area, you can hunt, fish or horseback ride til you are blue in the face. Enjoy the historic ranch buildings and antique equipment and beautiful setting. The surrounding mountains are heavily wooded in Apsen groves. The fall colors are delightful. The people who work here and operate are friendly and helpful. They have an old gas globe gas tank. I know that they are friendly, helpful and have a glass globe gas pump from personal experience. opps
Sulpher Creek Ranch. Sulpher Creek ranch is an understated back country guest ranch. Long a popular flying breakfast destination. Meadows stretch 5 miles in each direction for easy hiking. Hear wolfs howl or hike down to the Middle Fork Operating a big game hunting business in addition to the summer time flying breakfast typically means you will have it all to yourself the rest of the time! There contact us button on the web site says " We are strategically located deep in the Frank Church Wilderness Area with no direct contact to outside world." Sounds pretty good to me.
Arnold Aviation USPS Mail Run- Visit all the ranches by buying your way onto the Thursday mail run that has been handled by Arnold Aviation since before I was born. It is quite an experience to fly through these tight mountain canyons and drop out of the blue onto one of these small green strips of flat land in a sea of hillsides. Ray Arnold flew me into the Salmon river years ago for a Bighorn Sheep hunt. It rained all morning. I sat in their office waiting for a break. As near as I could tell not a darn thing gad changed. Ray walks in and says lets go! I though he was kidding. The tires of our 206 seemed to touch the tree top the whole way. As we came over Pistol Creek Ranch I thought we were going to shake hands with the residents.