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Local Secrets Along the Boise River Greenbelt

The Greenbelt Is a Must-See Attraction in Boise—Here’s What You Need to Know about It.

Hero image courtesy of Colleen D. on Trover

A key portion of the area called “Treasure Valley,” Boise is known for its natural beauty, playing host to a plethora of outdoor activities, and having a small-town atmosphere, despite being Idaho’s capital city. And the Boise River Greenbelt is among the best, most convenient ways to take advantage of everything that the city has to offer. 

With twenty-five miles of scenic trail, it’s no wonder that the Greenbelt is one of the most popular things to do when visiting Boise. But the sheer size of the winding riverside park can be intimidating. Keep reading to learn more about the Greenbelt, including:

  • What it is 
  • What there is to do on it 
  • And tips for navigating it.

What Is the Boise River Greenbelt?

The Greenbelt is a greenway and alternative transportation route in Boise that runs twenty-five miles from Garden City to East Boise, linking local neighborhoods, landmarks, and other parks. Bordered on one side by trees and wildlife habitat and the Boise River on the other, the Greenbelt is the perfect place to savor the fresh Idaho air and take in the colorful surroundings. 

Greenbelt Background

A city-long park doesn’t happen overnight—the City of Boise started work on the Greenbelt in 1962, and it’s been an ongoing project ever since. Before the 1960s, the Boise River was actually a dumping ground for industrial waste, raw sewage, and basically every other type of trash that you can think of. 

Luckily, Boise has come a long way in terms of taking care of the river. The annual RiverSweep calls volunteers to help clean up the trash that’s accumulated in and around the river throughout the year. Image courtesy of Idaho Business Review

Looking at the Greenbelt now, it’s almost impossible to believe that lush trees and sparkling waters were once riddled with garbage. Over the years, the City has transformed the once-neglected area into a sweeping community park that’s enjoyed by visitors and Boise residents alike. 

What Is There to Do on the Boise River Greenbelt?

In addition to providing a space to walk, run, and bike, the Greenbelt is conducive to a variety of nature activities, thanks to the river and its wooded lining. Moreover, the Greenbelt is also a pedestrian walkway that you can use to get to a long list of city parks and other attractions. 

Boise Greenbelt Activities 

Whether you’re a serious runner or just someone who appreciates a casual walk, the Greenbelt is an excellent place to stretch your legs and sneak in some exercise. And for travelers who like to immerse themselves in whatever new place they’ve come to, you can’t beat the Greenbelt as a means to get to know the city. These are a few of the activities that you can take part in on the Greenbelt. 

Running and Walking

Unless you’re looking to simulate a marathon, you’re probably not going to conquer the entirety of the Greenbelt on foot. Nonetheless, if you want a run or walk with some amazing views, the Greenbelt is the place to go. Just remember that you’ll be sharing it with others, including bikers, dog-walkers, and maybe even some roller skaters. 

 

“This place is amazing. Everything was beautiful, and what a great way to spend a nice day, walking along the river. If I lived close by, I'd be here all the time. We were able to see a man fly fish, and he actually caught fish. It was cool to watch. Definite must-see if you're visiting Boise.” -B.D. on Yelp

Biking

Much of the pathway on the Greenbelt is paved, which makes it the ideal spot to go for a bike ride. Whether you go ten miles or two, you’ll love cruising alongside the Boise River and marveling at Mother Nature’s ample presence in the City of Trees. 

 

“We had an absolute blast biking on this pathway along the river. There were tons of people fly fishing/regular fishing in the river as well as biking and jogging along the trail. The trail is paved and is surrounded by greenery almost the whole way. I liked that we got a mini-tour of Boise State just by riding on the Greenbelt because it lies right next to campus. We entered the path by 13th Street.” -Alyse H. on Yelp


Birding

The Idaho Birding Trail—a collection of birding hotspots throughout the state—includes the Boise River as a recommended birding site in southwest Idaho. Birders frequent the Greenbelt for its easy access to bird species ranging from raptors and songbirds to shorebirds and waterfowl. 

 

“Being fairly recent to Boise, I've fallen in love with the Greenbelt. What an amazing walk or bike ride. Lots of trees to captivate the imagination. Lots of wildlife to observe. I even saw a bald eagle last winter and an owl with owlets this spring. Definitely a jewel in Boise's crown of lovely sights.” -Jan L. on Yelp


Fishing

Fishers can either fish right in the river or visit one of the many fishing ponds scattered throughout the other parks that you can reach via the Greenbelt. The Boise River is among the top-rated urban trout rivers in the entire country, and you can plenty of trout, bass, salmon, and other game fish when you fish on the Greenbelt. 

 

“Plenty of places to stop for a dip in the river, picnic, and/or do a little fishing.  It has beautiful scenery and there are even blackberry bushes alongside parts of it. My son and I go out and pick them for smoothies, delicious!” -Treva K. on Yelp


Swimming and Water Sports

If you have the pleasure of being in Boise during the warmer months of the year, the Greenbelt is a lovely place to take a swim or paddle around in a kayak. Lucky Peak State Park, located at the southernmost point of the Greenbelt, is home to swimming and water sports, as are several other parks along the trail. 

 

“Other than the gorgeousness of the area surrounding the river to enjoy, one fascination that I can never seem to resist stopping for is the Boise River Park where wave shapers create waves in the river for kayakers and surfers to enjoy.  They are amazing to watch and there is a nice stone/paved area where people can lounge and watch the water-sport fun.” -Ophelia M. on Yelp

Photography 

The Greenbelt is positively abundant with photo ops. Whether you’re looking to shoot some stills of the river and the wildlife or stage the perfect family photo of your trip, you’ll find that the Greenbelt makes one of the best backdrops in the entire city. 

 

“Was glad we checked out the Greenbelt after hearing locals talk about it. Didn't have a lot of time, but if I lived here, this would be a go-to on a regular basis. The Snake River has a beautiful view from the bridge, with picture opportunities for those who've never been here before.” -Sunny D. on Yelp


Points of Interest on the Greenbelt 

While the Greenbelt is certainly an attraction in and of itself, it’s also a quick, easy way to get places all over the city. You can use the Greenbelt to explore just about every inch of Boise while still getting to see some of Idaho’s natural scenery. 

Many people who live and work in Boise use the Greenbelt as a way to get to and from work—which is why there’s always people one it, even if the weather isn’t great. Image courtesy of @thisisboise on Instagram

Quinn’s Pond

3150 W. Pleasanton Avenue 

This waterfront park and pond is the ideal spot to take a dip on a hot day. But whether you go in the water or just enjoy the views, Quinn’s Pond is a fun detour to make along the Greenbelt. 


 

“The Greenbelt is a Boise gem. It extends more than 20 miles along the Boise River and attracts pedestrians, bicyclists, and river users. It provides access to some of the city's best parks: Julia Davis, Ann Morrison, and Municipal. There's a waveshaper on the river next to Quinn’s Pond that attracts kayakers and swimmers.” -John S. on Yelp


Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial 

770 S. 8th Street 


This memorial and educational park is a one-of-a-kind sight to see with indescribable meaning. The space honors Anne Frank and other victims of injustice through commemoration and opportunities to learn. It is one of the few places in the world where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is permanently on display

 

“This is a very nice memorial along the Boise River Greenbelt. It is a great space that appears to be built with a lot of donations. Many of the benches and structures give credit to those who donated and also reverence to the sacrifices made in WWII. Well worth a walk through.” -Wayne W. on Yelp


Zoo Boise

355 E. Julia Davis Drive (inside Julia Davis Park) | zooboise.org


While it’s true that you can see wildlife when walking the Greenbelt, the park isn’t exactly lions-tigers-and-bears habitat. But not to worry—you can get your fill of exotic animals by taking a trip to Zoo Boise, located within Julia Davis Park.  

 

“Being from Houston, this zoo is def small—but so is Boise in comparison. Even though small, I'm never disappointed when I visit. I always get to see the animals . . . There's lots of shade here, and lots of little things for kids to do throughout the zoo . . . I think the zoo is in a great location, since you can walk through the Greenbelt or to other museums. It’s a beautiful area of Boise and a must-visit when you're in the area!” -Karen W. on Yelp


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Bob Gibb Friendship Bridge

Julia Davis Park ↔ Boise State University 

Bob Gibb Friendship Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Boise River from Julia Davis Park to Boise State University. The bridge is an awesome spot to stop for a photo and a shortcut to get to the university. 

 

“The Boise River Greenbelt really presents some of the most beautiful aspects of the city of Boise. If you ever find yourself where you are near the river and have a chance to just take a walk, this is unquestionably the place to go. Along the way, you may find parks, rope swings, picnics, music, plays, baptisms, memorials, runners, bridges, playgrounds, bikes, and, of course, the peacefulness of the river. It's beautiful.” -Michael S. on Yelp


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Warm Springs Golf Course

2495 E. Warm Springs Avenue | warmspringsgolfcourse.com

Stop for a drink and a bite to eat—and to play a quick nine—when you swing by Warm Springs Golf Course. Situated alongside the Boise River, Warm Springs is a few minutes’ walk from Downtown and offers players a spectacular view of the Bosie Foothills. 

 

“Boise has some really nice city-owned courses, and this is one of them. Located right next to the Greenbelt, so you get to see and hear people running and riding their bikes, and the scenic views on this course are awesome! . . . They have a good selection of beer and really good wraps and sandwiches in the pro shop. And they are priced really well. . . . If you enjoy the game of golf, come here and check this place out, you won't be disappointed.” -Jacob B. on Yelp


Tips for Navigating the Boise River Greenbelt 

There’s not a specific place where you should start or end the Greenbelt, but the city’s map might be useful to determine which entrance is closest to where you are and where you want to go. Markers and signs are positioned throughout the Greenbelt to guide you as you walk (or run, bike, or skate) so that you don’t get lost. 

You can also download the Boise River Greenbelt app, which you can use to stay informed about stops and resources that are around you or might be coming up soon. Ultimately, it’s pretty difficult to get lost on the Greenbelt because it’s dotted with so many points of interest and always populated with walkers, runners, bikers, and commuters who can help you if you don’t know how to get somewhere. So, don’t be afraid to take on the Greenbelt during your trip to Boise—and get ready for twenty-five miles of fun! 


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