Table Rock is one of the most iconic areas of Boise, for a few reasons. Not only does it have a giant cross at the top, which is illuminated every night, but it is also the most popular hike in Boise. Learn more about Table Rock Boise and how to get to the top.
Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:
What time does table rock close?
Table Rock is open from sunrise to sunset all year round. Like all trails in Boise, Idaho, and pretty much the whole world, it is always best to stay off of them when they are wet, because it could cause damage to the trails.
The parking lot at Table Rock is only open May through October each year, although it has been closed for the remainder of 2020 (read below for more details).
Table Rock is near the grounds of the Idaho State Penitentiary, a former prison complex in Boise, which is now used as a history museum. The hike to the top of Table Rock begins near the penitentiary grounds. Table Rock Boise is maintained by the Idaho State Historical Society — they also own and maintain the Idaho State Penitentiary, Idaho State Archives, and Idaho State Museum. The reasoning for this is the land was originally owned by the Idaho Department of Corrections. You will see volunteers out on the trail and on top of the Table Rock making sure everything is kept in great shape.
Table Rock has a nice hike, and is located between Boise and the foothills. It has a flat rock top, making it the perfect end to a nice hike up the hill.
Table Rock was previously used by Native Americans in the area, including the Northern Shoshone, as a ceremonial space.
The Table Rock cross in Boise was built in 1956 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, according to the Idaho Architecture Project. The cross is 60 feet tall and is lit up every night, and is visible in most parts of Boise. In 2011, the lighting on the cross was replaced with LED lights. The cross has been the center of numerous controversies over the year, mainly because it is maintained by public funds. When lit up at night, you can see the Boise cross from miles away.
There was a fire on Table Rock in 2016, which caused much of the area to be burnt. The city of Boise has been working since then to improve conditions in the area.
The hike to Table Rock Boise begins near the grounds of the Idaho State Penitentiary. You can find the trailhead next to the penitentiary, and behind the Bishop’s House. The trail winds up the side of the mountain and Boise foothills, gaining an elevation of 895 feet over the 3.7-mile trail.
Dogs on leashes and horses are allowed on the trail, as well as walkers, runners, and bicyclists. Although the trail is under four miles, it is a pretty steep elevation climb in that time, so be prepared for a steep climb. You will find dirty and rocks as well, surrounded by sage brush on most of the hike. There also tends to be some wildlife on the trail, including numerous encounters with rattlesnakes.
When you get close to the top, you will be able to divert and get close to the Boise “B” if you want to see it up close. The hike should take an hour or less, for most people.
You can hike the trail every day from sunrise to sunset, all year round — although hiking is somewhat discouraged in wetter months because hiking on wet trails can actually damage those trails.
Although the top of Table Rock Boise is a fairly flat concrete slab, people fall over the edge all year-round by getting too close. Just be sure to watch your children and clumsy friends.
The map of the hike to Table Rock:
NOTE: Due to COVID-19, the drive to Table Rock is currently closed, so you will need to hike from the bottom right now.
On June 26, the Idaho Historical Society announced that they have decided to close the parking lot for the remainder of 2020 due to concerns about vandalism, safety, and illegal activity. The parking lot set aside for driving up to Table Rock holds about 30 cars, but they have been seeing around 250 each day.
From the Idaho Historical Society: Citing ongoing safety issues, chronic vandalism and other concerns about Table Rock Mesa, the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS), which administers the historic site, will be closing the parking area atop the landmark for the remainder of the 2020 season.
The decision was approved by the Idaho State Historical Society’s Board of Trustees during its June 9 meeting. The parking area, Table Rock Mesa and the hiking trail that begins near the Old Idaho Penitentiary are managed by ISHS under an agreement with the Idaho Department of Lands.
“This was not an easy decision because we understand how important Table Rock is to all of us who live here in the Treasure Valley,” said Janet Gallimore, executive director of ISHS. “At the same time, it is our responsibility as caretakers to take appropriate steps to protect public safety and preserve the natural beauty and historical and cultural significance of the site. We look forward to the Advisory Committee’s analysis and suggestions for how best to balance public access with protection in the future.”
The board’s decision is a response to heightened cases of vandalism, trespassing, illegal parking, and large and sometimes disruptive social gatherings at or near Table Rock Mesa in the last several months. ISHS has a duty to protect public safety and preserve the cultural and historic landmark.
The board is also forming an advisory committee to study and recommend long-term solutions intended to protect and enhance Table Rock Mesa while accommodating different forms of public access.
The Table Rock parking lot will be closed through October, when the road is normally closed for the season anyway. When it is scheduled to reopen in May, ISHS will look at the decision again.
Because of ISHS’s decision, we have made the decision to remove the instructions for driving to Table Rock until it is re-opened.
The Idaho State Historical Society has numerous rules/FAQ for visiting Table Rock, including standards for keeping it open to the public.
- Table Rock Mesa is open sunrise to sunset.
- Access to Table Rock Mesa after sunset and before sunrise is not allowed.
- Most of the north side of Table Rock from Table Rock Road to Table Rock Mesa is privately owned.
- Motorized access to Table Rock Mesa is allowed only for service and emergency use.
- No parking is allowed on the road to the gate, on private property, or wherever posted.
- Hikers can access Table Rock Trails via a large parking/trailhead area near the Old Idaho Penitentiary or via the Ridge to Rivers System.
- The single lane, unimproved road is used by large trucks carrying heavy loads accessing the Table Rock quarry.
- The small parking area is available for communications licensees, emergency vehicles, maintenance, etc., only.
- Local law enforcement, community residents, and the Idaho State Historical Society are concerned about increasing damage/vandalism to private and public property, violence, graffiti and public safety. For emergencies: contact Boise Police Department. For General information, please contact Historic Sites Administrator, Amber Beierle at Amber.Beierle@ishs.idaho.gov
- The ISHS is working actively with stakeholders, including the people with disabilities,
- Ridges to Rivers and private landowners, to craft a comprehensive plan for short term and long term enhanced public access to Table Rock Mesa.