Are you looking for local trips for you and your kiddos to enjoy nature – while also helping them learn more about science, local wildlife, and the environment? Here are several ideas to consider for a day trip in the Boise area...or even repeated visits if it becomes one of your favorite places!
The Idaho Botanical Garden is an excellent option for younger children who may not be ready for a full trip out into the forest, but still want to learn more about plants and ecology. It’s also a great way to deviate from the usual city park outing. The plant collections, conservation efforts, and events at the Gardens are very detailed. And The 30-acre space is easy to navigate with smooth greens and plenty of rock paths leading through the gardens.
There are several options for fossil beds, but one of the most popular is the Hagerman Fossil Beds, which includes hikes, drives, and a center for exploring how fossil beds work. This one is usually an easy winner, since kids love fossils and will learn about geology at the same time! Just remember that some of this exploration can get hot and demanding during the summer.
For older kids and teens, there's nothing like a refreshing hike in the forest to check out some local beauty and explore what nature has to offer! There are 2.5 million acres here, and we encourage you to look into the trails and pick one with great views of the surrounding landscape. If you like hiking in the snow, parts of the park are also open in winter and make for great snowshoeing while reviewing how the landscape changes between seasons.
Table Rock trails are available during the warmer months and offer unique access to some incredible geological views, while still being a classic Boise destination. The hikes here can be more challenging, but the views on a clear day are amazing. Plus, it's easy here to segue your kids into talks about geography, geology, and how Table Rock developed.
Choose a Body of Water
One of our favorites for families that want to spend a day out is the Arrowrock Reservoir, but there are plenty of nearby lakes and rivers to explore! If you want to focus on the nature part of the trip, try setting some specific challenges, like how many ospreys the kids can spot on the trip, or how many fish they see jumping.
Geocaching refers to communities that hide surprises at very specific coordinates across the country for others to discover using GPS location systems and careful coordinate plotting. It's a great way to teach about geography and navigation at the same time. It's also a long-term hobby that's easy to do as a family!