Oregon Trail Reserve

4500 E Lake Forest Dr

OregonTrailReserve.jpgThe Oregon Trail Reserve is a 66-acre site in Southeast Boise. The area features a scenic view of the Boise Front and the historic Kelton Ramp, a path forged by overland travelers heading down the rim to the Boise River.

This site was made a "reserve" with the goal of preserving remnants of the Oregon Trail and educating the public about this valuable historic resource.

A partnership between the Boise City, the BLM and the residents of Surprise Valley was forged during the creation of the reserve. The Boise Parks & Recreation Department is responsible for maintenance of pathways and restrooms. The BLM assisted with the production and installation of interpretive signage. Surprise Valley residents help with upkeep of pathways below the rim.

OregonTrailReserve2.jpgThanks to a land exchange in 2006, the boundaries of the Oregon Trail Historic Reserve were expanded by 13 acres and a pathway connection was completed between the reserve park and surrounding neighborhoods.

Columbia Development LLC added a .4-mile gravel walking path that connects the west end of the reserve park to surrounding residential neighborhoods in the Columbia Village, Surprise Valley and Homestead Rim subdivisions.

Located on the rim of the basalt cliffs separating Surprise Valley and Columbia Village, the new pathway provides spectacular views of the Barber Valley and Boise Foothills.


Oregon Trail Ramps

Two ramps are located in the vicinity, the Beaver Dicks and the Kelton Ramp. The Kelton ramp is located about 500 feet NW of Highway 21 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ramp dates back to the early 1860s. It is a rock cut through the basalt rim between the second and third terraces above the Boise River.

Features of the ramp include rock art (pictographs) drawn on the basalt rim face. Origins of the pictographs are unknown, but they may represent early advertising attempts.

The travel route left the Kelton Ramp on the lower terrace and then crossed the river at Beaver Dick's Ferry located north of the Kelton Ramp. The trail finally proceeded over the mountains to Idaho City.

Amenities & Details

Public Art

Rare Bronze Sculpture to Mark Historic Oregon Trail Reserves

The family of distinguished American sculptor Avard Fairbanks has donated to the city of Boise a rare bronze casting of "Old Oregon Trail". The 36-inch round medallion has been mounted into a 7-and-a-half-foot tall stone monument and installed at the Whitman Trailhead in the Oregon Trail Historic Reserves Park off Highway 21 and E. Lake Forest Drive. Boise Mayor Brent Coles, the Boise Parks & Recreation Department and members of the Fairbanks family unveiled and dedicated the monument.

The sculpture, valued at $23,000, was cast from Avard Fairbank's original model which he created in 1924. It depicts a pioneer mother and child in a covered wagon with her husband driving oxen on a rocky trail. It was inspired by Fairbanks' friendship with Oregon Trail Pioneer Ezra Meeker, whose passion for recognition and preservation of the Trail was legendary.

The Oregon Trail was the backbone of transportation in the early American West, serving as a travel route for nearly 500,000 pioneers between 1841 and the 1880s. An estimated 20,000 people perished along the route, which stretched from points along the Missouri River into the Northwest Territories.

Avard Fairbanks, Ph.D, 1897-1987, was a sculptor, anatomist and educator. In his career he created more than 100 public monuments to great characters and events in history. His sculptures include religious characters such as Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and the Angel Moroni; secular works such as garden statuaries and war memorials; and prominent people like Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Florence Nightingale. He also created memorial statues to western pioneers such as Marcus Whitman, located in Walla Walla, WA, the Pioneer Family, in Bismarck, ND, and the Tragedy at Winter Quarters in Omaha, NB. Fairbanks also designed and sculpted the original Dodge Ram and Winged Mermaid hood ornaments in the 1930s for Dodge and Plymouth automobiles.

Restrooms

Park restrooms are available at this park. Restrooms are now open. Park drinking fountains are now operational. 

For a list of restrooms and portable restrooms that are available year around in parks and the reserves, click here.

Walk 150

walk150webteaser.jpgMaps created for the city's Walk 150 project provide distances for walking paths in 17 parks throughout the city. Check out the mileage for Places to Walk in this park at: http://www.walk150.org/places-to-walk/

 

Smoking Prohibition

Boise Smokefree Park SignSmoking is prohibited in all public parks, including within 20 feet of the Boise Greenbelt, except in designated areas within Ann Morrison and Julia Davis parks and city-owned golf courses.

NOTE: E-cigarettes are not prohibited under the ordinances.

Master Plan

A Master Plan is a concept drawing illustrating recreation facilities and landscape features planned for a park site.  It does not necessarily represent what amenities are currently in a park.