Outdoor Activity

The Boise River gets us moving outside.

Parks, paths and all the landscapes made possible by the Boise River allow people to connect with nature and engage in physical activity, conferring health benefits and enhancing well-being.  Much research has been done into the link between inactivity and obesity and other illness. Local health professionals have identified many ways that increased physical activity, including walking, can improve health by:

  • Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Helping control body weight
  • Increasing mental well-being

Research has also shown that inactivity and obesity lead to increased direct health care costs and increased indirect costs associated with illness, such as lost wages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two-thirds of Idaho adults were obese or overweight in 2011. Local research also showed that in 2011 nearly a quarter of Idaho’s youth were overweight or obese.

Proximity to outdoor recreation areas – such as school yards and public parks throughout the Treasure Valley that are irrigated with water from the Boise River, and parks and paths that are adjacent to the Boise River – leads to higher levels of physical activity among youth and adults resulting in improved health.

Studies have shown that getting into nature – with plants, animals, scenic views and wildness – offers lots of medical benefits, including stress relief and help with attention and behavioral disorders. Exercise in natural places enhances tranquility and relieves anxiety and depression better than exercise along urban streets.

Protecting the Boise River is an

investment in public health.

Over 166 Parks

Boise Department of Parks and Recreation manages an estimated 97 irrigated parks and right-of-ways totaling 1,250 acres of land that receive 1.043 billion gallons of water annually.  Nampa has 25 parks. Meridian currently has 20 parks, with three more in the planning stage. There are 14 parks in Caldwell and 23 parks in Kuna, Middleton, Star, Notus and Wilder combined. Ada County manages Barber Park, which hosts more than 100,000 visitors annually who come to float the Boise River. All combined, at least 166 parks are made possible by the Boise River. Numerous school and church playing fields are also irrigated with water from the Boise River or its companion aquifer.

Miles of Bike and Walking Paths

Bike and walking paths are an important part of outdoor recreation in the Treasure Valley.  The 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt managed by Boise City Parks and Recreation is a highly valued amenity because it courses through highly scenic landscape adjacent to the Boise River. Greenbelt walker and bicycle riders commonly see birds and wild animals. Other cities and Ada and Canyon counties have also invested public resources into creating bike and walking paths near the Boise River. Ada County Highway District has established bike routes that provide quick and safe access to the Boise River and many of the valley’s parks and schools.

Outstanding Hiking and Camping

While not in walking proximity to the nearly 500,000 people who live in the Treasure Valley, the public lands managed by the Boise National Forest and Bureau of Land Management are close enough to receive significant use during much of  the year. Of course the Boise River and its many tributaries define the landscape and ecosystem.

There are 32 designated campgrounds with more than 285 campsites in the upper Boise River watershed. At least 18 trails dedicated to backpacking, bicycling, and hiking lie in close proximity to its lakes and creeks, and along the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Boise Rivers.

This is just a sample of the many opportunities provided by the Boise River for  people of all ages to enjoy nature and be physically active.

Walkers photo by Boise Parks and Recreation

Walkers – photo courtesy of Boise Department of Parks and Recreation

Get out and play at the Boise River Park!