5 Ways to Beat the Boise Heat

Jason W.
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Triple digit days are common in our hometown and even the days that do dip below the triples rarely offer much relief. Boise in the summer can be blistering. Whether you're A/C is pumping full blast or your choose to chase an elusive breeze, finding a refuge from the steady, unwavering heat is a very welcome thing. Whether you’re looking for fun in town or to get away, here are some easy ways to beat the Boise summer blaze.

1. Float the Boise River

Kenneth Freeman

Regulated flows from Lucky Peak Dam pull water from the bottom of the Reservoir where its coldest, making Boise River’s flow a cool, refreshing one. On a day when every movement you make seems to only remind you of how hot the air is, a float down the Boise will reset your internal thermometer to a happier chill.

Many other beach access points can be your launching spot but the best place to start is Barber Park. Barber offers the longest float at nearly 6 miles before the take-out at Ann Morrison Park.

Park at Barber just off Eckert Road and, if you have your own inner-tubes, small raft, inflatable kayak, or paddle board, walk over to the wide beach to put in. If you need to rent your boat, tube, raft, or PFD, Epley’s Boise Boat Rentals offers several different options.

The City of Boise Parks has put together a great float map including designated rest stops to take a break on shore. If it’s your first time on the river, put a copy of the map in a large zip lock bag for reference.

You won’t be alone on the river, especially if it's a 100o+ day so say hello to your fellow river rats. This is an easy float and appropriate for the novice. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) and watch for bridge pilings, islands and other obstacles along the way.

Depending on rest stops, the flow and your ability to navigate, the float can take up to two hours. At Ann Morrison Park, two take-out spots make it easy to get out. Epley’s runs a shuttle 7 days a week through Labor Day with a few exceptions – check their website. For $3, they’ll take you back up to Barber Park and your vehicle – or another run of the river!

 2. Bogus Basin Hikes

Teresa Bruffey

Often a good 15-20 degrees cooler than Boise and offering frequent breezes, the trails at Bogus Basin  are a fantastic place to get out of the scorching temps and hit the trail. Rising above the valley 3,500 feet and only 16 miles from downtown, Bogus is also often a place to fill your lungs with fresh air when wildfire smoke clings to the valley.

From the main ski area parking lot hike between the lodge and the lifts to the Morning Star Trail and meander up switchbacks through intermittently shady trees 1.5 miles to the Pioneer Lodge. From here, many options stretch out before you, mostly all open with expansive views in every direction. For a quick, but steeper route to the top, take the Lodge Trail until it meets with the Tempest Trail. The Tempest Trail will take you to the top in a quad-busting, but wildflower-strewn half mile.

Again, from the top, there are many options to choose for your way back down. Either return the way you came, savoring the cooler elevation, or select another way down. Cabin Traverse Trail to Elk Meadows Trail to Deer Point Trail adds about 3.2 miles of easy downhill crossing gorgeous wildflower fields, through tall timber and across a few open slopes. This easy-to-follow route brings you right back to where you started.

Pack a lunch and enjoy a refreshing breeze. Or, better yet, bring a cooler and portable grill for a post-hike bbq and watch the sun set over the valley.

3. Swim Quinn’s Pond

Teresa Bruffey

Just a short bike, walk or drive from downtown, Quinn’s Pond  alongside the Boise River bustles with activity. With a steep but sandy beach on the south shore, two docks for sunning or fishing and access to Idaho River Sports just a few steps across the Greenbelt , its no wonder this oasis is a hot spot for beating the heat (no pun intended).

On the north side, a short set of stairs provides one of the easiest entry points into the pond. Whether you’re renting a paddleboard from Idaho River Sports, want to get in a good, long swim, or want to give Fido a spot to doggie paddle, this is the place to go. For swimmers wanting to get in a training session, the four new and permanent white buoys near the “corners” of the pond mark a 1,000 meter loop. For those looking for a quick cool off after a toasty bike ride or hike, take a running jump from either of the docks (just be mindful of the anglers).

Free, easy to get to, right on the Greenbelt and full of entertaining people-watching, Quinn’s Pond will be a happy retreat from the heat.

4. Float the Main Section of the Payette River

Gregory Taylor

A short 45-60 minute drive from downtown, the Main  is one of the most popular spots for evening and weekend boating. From late June through the summer, the put in at the Banks-Lowman turnoff on Highway 55 hustles and bustles with trucks and trails jockeying to get down to the ramp.

With significant but straightforward Class III rapids and minimal flat water, there’s a good reason it's a popular spot for boaters. A great run for those with at least basic skills or for newer boaters hopping in a raft with experienced friends, it's a deliciously fun and splashy ride. The 7-mile run down to the take out at Beehive Bend will leave you refreshed and with a big smile on your face.

If you or friends have your own rafts or boats, pay your $3 parking fee, put in and you're set to go. Or, if you are just starting out, connect with Cascade Raft and Kayak to sign up for one of their half day trips.

If you’re not interested in going for the run, beaches dot the stretch along the highway. Beehive Bend can be busy with boats taking out, but it does have a great beach. Chief Parrish a few miles up-river is also a nice spot to pull off and dip your toes in the water. Or, if you’re running shuttle for friends, spend some time at the put-in on the wide beach and watch the circus around you.

5. Sandbar Patio Grill and Bar

As most locals know, walks, ambling cruiser rides, or sitting in shaded lawn anywhere along the Boise Greenbelt in summer will treat those who get out with noticeably cooler air. Being near the flowing river lowers the temperature significantly, making the trail’s grassy knolls and benches—and adjacent restaurants—an excellent place to spend some time or stop for a while.

On a hot summer’s eve, the Sandbar Patio Grill and Bar at the Riverside Hotel, overlooking the Boise River is just the place. With peaceful views and a relaxing atmosphere it is a spectacular spot to sit back with an icy gin and tonic or frothy local beer. They even have misters—a most brilliant invention!—to spray a gentle dusting of chilled water around you. Bands play nearly every night of the week; check their music calendar for which band or artist is up next. If you’re looking for snacks as well, their menu features some pretty tasty options.

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