The air in Boise was thick with smoke from the Trinity Ridge Fire the day we visited the Idaho State Capitol.

About the Capitol from the Idaho Capitol Commission:

The dome of Idaho’s State Capitol rises 208 feet into the Boise skyline, a classical architectural form prominent among the city’s modern multi-story buildings and the landscape’s rolling foothills. The Renaissance Revival Capitol is Idaho’s most significant historic structure and a building that reflects the state’s political, social, and economic history.

Over 100 years since conception, the Capitol continues to function as the seat of Idaho’s state government, currently housing the executive and legislative branches and numerous state offices, which occupy much of the approximately 111,600 square feet of usable space.

Although the use of transitional architectural form is drawn from various historic epochs, the materials used in realizing the design draw upon local resources. Composed of locally quarried stone, the sandstone exterior resonates the dusty light auburn hues of Boise’s surrounding foothills, adapting the Capitol’s civic symbolism to serve the people and land of Idaho.

Facts about the Idaho Capitol Building from the Idaho Capitol Commission:

  • In 1905, the Idaho legislature passed the bill authorizing construction of the Capitol Building.
  • The architects of the Capitol Building were J.E. Tourtellotte and Charles Hummel.
  • The dome and central parts of the Capitol were built first—from 1905-1912.
  • The wings (House and Senate chambers) were constructed during 1919 and 1920.

  • Most of the superstructure is made of sandstone taken from Table Rock (near Boise).
  • Convicts from the old Idaho Penitentiary were responsible for transporting the 10-ton sandstone blocks from the quarry.
  • Four types of marble were used for the Capitol’s interior:
    • red from Georgia
    • gray from Alaska
    • green from Vermont
    • black from Italy

  • From the first floor to the eagle atop the dome, the Idaho Capitol Building rises 208 feet. 
  • The floor area of the building when completed was 201,720 square feet.
  • Over 50,000 square feet of artistically-carved marble exists in the building.

  • The original cost to construct the Capitol was $2.1 million.
  • Replacement costs today would be over $100 million with many materials considered irreplaceable.
  • Idaho’s Capitol Building is the only one in the United States heated by geothermal water. The hot water is tapped and pumped from a source 3,000 feet underground.
  • The eagle atop the dome stands 5 feet 7 inches and is made of copper. In 2005, as part of the exterior restoration, it received a new gilding of gold leaf.


  • Multnomah Falls
  • Critter Farm
  • Cannon Beach

We spent our first night of vacation in a rustic wooden cottage at Billingsley Creek Lodge and Retreat. Our cottage sat right on the edge of spring-fed Billingsley Creek.

The lodge has beautiful gardens:

A lovely koi pond:

And a couple of resident muskrats:

The next morning we were off to Malad Gorge at Thousand Springs State Park.

The Malad River crashes down stair step falls, then cuts through a beautiful 250-foot gorge on its way to the Snake River, two and a half miles downstream.

Most of the history at this park is on the geologic scale. The cracks and folds of rock along the canyon cliffs record the movements of earth, lava and water.

Our last stop before heading back to Boise was Bruneau Dunes State Park.

The park is the site of North America’s highest single-structured sand dune, which is about 470 feet high. 

Don and I both agreed that the landscape at Bruneau dunes was simply surreal. This olive tree standing in front of the dunes is my favorite photo from our time in Idaho.

This is my favorite version:

Which one do you like best?


  • The Idaho State Capitol

Don and I just got back from a week-long vacation in Idaho and Oregon. We had good weather, saw beautiful sights and spent time with great friends.

The first day we flew into Boise, rented a car and drove to Glenns Ferry, Idaho for a wine tasting and lunch at Carmela Winery.

From there, we drove to Three Island Crossing State Park. The three-island crossing is one of the most famous river crossings on the Oregon Trail. Pioneer travelers used this crossing until 1869, when Gus Glenn constructed a ferry about two miles upstream.

This river crossing offered pioneers the last chance to traverse from the increasingly barren and rugged south side of the Snake River to the more pleasant north side. 

Don was stationed at nearby Mountain Home Air Force Base for ten years before being transferred to Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.


  • Billingsley Creek Lodge and Retreat in Hagerman
  • Malad Gorge at Thousand Springs State Park
  • Bruneau Dunes State Park