When summer rolls around, head to Lucky Peak State Park for biking and kayaking and a plethora of other outdoor activities. This Idaho state park is ideal for hot summer days and getting out of the city.
State Park Overview
Overall, we give this state park four stars.
There are three areas to explore at Lucky Peak State Park: Discovery, Sandy Point and Spring Shores Marina. (Note: Spring Shores Marina is actually located about 10 miles away from Discovery and Sandy Point.) All three areas offer a little something different, but the highlight of this park is access to the water. Lucky Peak Lake* and the Boise River provide a wealth of fun activities during typical hot summers.
*Lucky Peak Lake is the official name. However, in 30 years of living in Boise, R has never once referred to it as that. Locals say Lucky Peak Reservoir or Lucky Peak Dam, or simply Lucky Peak. We’ll say the official name in this post, but on the inside we are calling it ‘Lucky Peak.’
Sandy Point is a good option if you have kids. (If you don’t have kids, you may want to avoid this area…because of all the screaming kids.) Discovery is a good option for picnics, group gatherings, kayaking and paddleboarding. Spring Shores is a great option if you own a boat. You can also kayak or paddleboard here as well, but you will have to deal with all of the boats.
- Access to the Boise River Greenbelt
- Opportunity to spend time in and on the water on a hot summer day
- Proximity to Boise
- Crowded on the weekends
- Not much to do in the winter
What To Do
- Think lakeside recreation activities. Lucky Peak State Park provides loads of opportunities to kayak, paddleboard, splash around, go boating, fish, etc. If you like playing in the water, this is the state park for you.
- Hop on a bike. Lucky Peak is connected to 25 miles of bike paths (called the Boise River Greenbelt). It is mostly flat, if you are worried about that.
- Go fishing. If you want to avoid the crowds, you may want to get an early start. By the time afternoon rolls around, the water will be churning from all of those lakeside recreation activities.
- Play some disc golf. If you are into that sort of thing.
The park has all the usual amenities like restrooms, picnic tables, etc. Lucky Peak also features a life jacket and junior ranger program for kids. For all of the specifics, check out the parks and rec’s website for Lucky Peak State Park.
The Crowd Situation
This park is busy in the summertime. Expect lots of people. Finding a place to park may be difficult on the weekends. I recommend you start early or choose late afternoon/evening to avoid the crowds.
Unique to Lucky Peak State Park
The Rooster Tail. If Lucky Peak Dam needs to do a little flood risk management, they may release water through the original release structure of the dam. This results in a “Rooster Tail,” a spray of water high into the air. If it is going to happen, it generally happens in May during springtime runoff. It is quite a sight to behold and worth a visit. However, when the Rooster Tail is running, parking will be a nightmare. I highly recommend you ride your bike.
A Little History about Lucky Peak State Park
In 1935, the state acquired a five-acre site along the Boise River just downstream from Lucky Peak Dam. For decades, the site, which was popular for picnicking, was simply called State Park. Discovery got its name from the Wilson Price Hunt Party. It was here that the party is said to have first seen the Boise River.
- The Oregon Trail Reserve is six minutes away. This 77 acre site provides great views of Boise, interpretive signage and access to Kelton ramp, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It dates back to the early 1860s.
- Idaho City is 45 minutes away. This old gold rush mining town is part ghost town and part real town. It is fun to walk around and see all of the old buildings.
- Eagle Island State Park is 35 minutes away. This is another Idaho state park on the Boise River.
- Boise, Idaho’s capital and largest city, is conveniently located near Lucky Peak. It takes 20 minutes to get downtown and just 13 minutes to get to the airport. Seven minutes will get you to a grocery store for supplies and snacks.
- Lots and lots of outdoor recreation can be found around and near Lucky Peak State Park including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and more.
Our experience(s) at Lucky Peak State Park
Lucky Peak State Park is not new to us. In fact, we are more familiar with it than any other Idaho state park. It takes us about 15 minutes to drive there and we pass it regularly on our way to the mountains. Our friend had her wedding reception here. Many races start here. Lucky Peak is as much a part of Boise as the Capitol Building or BSU.
That said, the park’s proximity and familiarity means we sometimes overlook it and the great recreational opportunities it provides. And it provides a lot. I recommend you visit the parks and rec website for all of the particulars of what Lucky Peak State Park has to offer. In the meantime, I will tell you all about one of our favorite things to do: take a bike ride.
Biking at Lucky Peak State Park
If you are feeling really ambitious, you can ride your bike to Lucky Peak State Park (or even take a run). The greenbelt (that is what we call the bike path here in Boise), goes all the way from downtown to the park. We prefer to load up our bikes and get to the park first, which is what we did on a recent, beautiful summer Sunday afternoon.
We arrived late afternoon and although there were still plenty of people enjoying the park, we did not have any trouble finding a parking spot at Discovery. This is a great area to enjoy a picnic as well. It was from here that we hopped on our bikes and headed west. There was a bit of a headwind, but it felt nice in the summer sun.
Overall, we enjoyed about a 10-mile ride starting and ending at the park. After our ride, I put my feet into the very cool water of the Boise River. It felt amazing. All around me were people either enjoying the shade trees or kayaking and paddleboarding in the calm waters.
Kayaking at Lucky Peak Lake
Lucky Peak State Park is probably best known for its lakeside and river outdoor recreation activities. In the past, we have enjoyed kayaking at Lucky Peak Lake. It is really nice to be able to load up and be on the water in less than 30 minutes. However, I will tell you, Lucky Peak Lake is busy. You will have to deal with a lot of other boaters and kayakers enjoying the lake as well. You may want to avoid the middle of the day if possible.
We love Lucky Peak State Park for biking and kayaking, but there is a lot more to do. If you live in the Boise area, you should absolutely be taking advantage of Lucky Peak State Park. It is convenient and has plenty to offer, especially in the summertime. If you are from out of town and are looking for an easy place to “get out” while you are visiting Boise, this state park makes a great option. It is an especially good option if you want to get out on the water.
We visited Lucky Peak State Park as part of our Idaho State Parks Challenge. The challenge consists of visiting all of Idaho’s state parks in one year. We made up this challenge to see a bit more of our beautiful state and help alleviate the restlessness caused by Covid-19 travel restrictions. Feel free to join the challenge!
Related posts you might like:
- Eagle Island State Park
- Tips for Traveling Locally
- Top 10 Things to Do in Boise, Idaho
- How to Plan a Chill Weekend
Or if you want to see all of our posts, visit Past Posts.