Top Place: Boise National Forest

Boise National Forest
pauljess999, Flickr
The Boise National Forest in Idaho is home to diverse landscapes — from alpine meadows and mountain peaks to desert sagebrush plains and river canyons.

What is the Boise National Forest?

Boise National Forest is a backyard wilderness for Boise, the capital of Idaho.

The Boise National Forest spans 2.6 million acres. It includes 7,600 miles of streams and rivers that form the headwaters of the Boise and Payette rivers. It also houses more than 250 lakes and reservoirs.

What are some of the best things about the Boise National Forest?

The city of Boise relies on the Boise National Forest for drinking water. City residents also rely on the forest as a way to escape urban life and enjoy the outdoors.

The Boise National Forest includes scenic sage-covered hills that rise from about 2,600 feet to forest’s highest point — the 10,716-foot Mount Cramer. Mount Cramer’s peak looms over Hidden Lake and a sea of trees, including many huge ponderosa pines.  

Navigate a map of Boise National Forest below (data from U.S. Bureau of Land Management):

What’s one activity the Boise National Forest is known for?

Visiting hot springs.

When you visit the hot springs in Boise National Forest, you can soak in the therapeutic waters and enjoy a few moments of quiet in the wilderness.

There are many hot springs to explore and enjoy in the Boise National Forest. We recommend Bear Valley, Kirkham and Pine Flats.

  • Bear Valley hot springs: Many Idaho wilderness explorers enjoy soaking in the remote Bear Valley hot springs. The area also is a great spot for seeing wildlife — deer, elk, fox and many kinds of birds.
  • Kirkham hot springs: It’s easy to see the cobalt pools and the hot waterfalls of Kirkham hot springs from Idaho’s Highway 21. Hikers can learn more about geo-thermal activity by following trails with interpretive signs that describe the hot springs and the area’s history.
  • Pine Flats hot springs: If you’re a whitewater kayaker, you can warm up in the springs of Pine Flats before putting-in on the South Fork of the Payette River.

Interested in hot springing and other quiet moments? Get insider tips.

What’s one way The Wilderness Society is working to protect the Boise National Forest?

Whether you’re backpacking deep within Boise National Forest or pausing at a roadside picnic table — you will come face to face with a ponderosa pine. Locals call the pines “old yellow bellies.” 

The Wilderness Society is working in the Boise National Forest to preserve these old yellow bellies, so they can continue to thrive for generations to come.

Learn more about our work in the Boise National Forest.