The Esther Simplot Park and the Boise Whitewater Park in Boise are brand new additions to the city. Both parks are family-friendly and a fun day in the water, only minutes from downtown Boise.
Boise Whitewater Park
The Boise Whitewater Park is a section of the Esther Simplot Park, and was created in part by a donation from the Albertson Foundation. The park offers surfing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP).
The Boise Whitewater Park is so cool because the Boise River is directly in the middle of Boise, and yet it’s not utilized as much as in other cities. The project helped more people use the river and let a lot of residents and visitors learn a new sport or two.
The park is managed by the City of Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department, which means the park is usually in pretty great shape.
The first phase of the Boise Whitewater Park was opened in 2012, and the park is now opened year-round.
One of the coolest things about Phase 2 is that it has sections for all ranges of skill, including “easy going,” “playful,” and “river runner” — all within a half mile of river. So anyone coming to town can try out the park and learn some new skills — or the most hardcore and experienced river runner can experience the Boise River while in town.
Phase 2 of the Boise Whitewater Park opened in July of 2019.
Esther Simplot Park
The Esther Simplot Park is a 55-acre park, including 23 acres of ponds. You can swim or fish, or just sit on the “beach” (in Idaho, this is often the most beach we get access to). The Boise Greenbelt goes right through the park, which makes it a perfect location to bike or walk to, any time of day. However, there is also plenty of parking at the park.
Surprisingly, the fishing is actually not bad at the Esther Simplot Park. I was there just last week, and I saw a fisherman pull a 15-inch fish out of the water (!!!).
Esther Simplot Park includes the Boise Whitewater Park, Quinn’s Pond, and even the Boise River.
The park is so expansive, it includes activities for all kinds of people, including play equipment, wetlands, and shelters (that you can reserve for a party). You can also rent kayaks or SUPs on site to take into the water.
The downside of Esther Simplot Park (and this is a big one) is they have had issues with e.coli in the water nearly every year since they’ve been open. The city said this is due to dogs at the park, so dogs are now not allowed to be on park grounds.
However, a lack of dogs brings more Canada geese, which could also be the culprit, because it hasn’t stopped the bacteria from getting in the water.