Idaho City – Idaho City, Idaho - Atlas Obscura
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Idaho City, Idaho

Idaho City

A former gold rush boom town has managed to stay in business for over 100 ramshackle years. 

In the 1860s Idaho City was one of the West’s largest gold rush mining towns with a staggering population of over 7,000 residents, and while the population has plummeted, the half-ghost-half-real town continues.

During the American gold rush, more than $250,000,000 worth of precious metal was mined from the nearby Boise Basin, turning the frontier outpost into a bustling mining mecca with over three dozen saloons and two dozen law offices. While most pop-up towns of its ilk have disappeared to time, Idaho City still thrives more than 100 years after its founding and while the gold rush days are gone forever, much of the boom town flavor remains ready to be experienced.

Visitors can stroll along the planked boardwalks that formerly rang beneath the boots of rough-and-tumble miners or walk by the “Merc,” where it once cost a pinch of gold to buy an apple. On a stroll through the town, curious explorers can peek through the bars of the old jail, where desperadoes carved their names on the thick wooden walls, or stop by the Boise Basin Museum’s excellent collection of gold rush memorabilia and gain a new understanding of life in the 1860s. From the Idaho World Building to the old schoolhouse to the old Pioneer Cemetery full of ancient headboards telling intriguing tales from the past, the historic city offers a wealth of landmarks and artifacts for the curious.

Today Idaho City caters to its tourist population as well as acting as a jumping off point for a number of outdoor recreation opportunities. Be it precious metals or the precious dollars of travelers, the boom times are far from over in this town. 

Know Before You Go

Idaho City is easily accessible via State Hwy 21, just 45 minutes northeast of Boise.