Oregon Trail Reserve
4500 E. Lake Forest Dr., Boise
The Oregon Trail Reserve is a 77 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.
Features & Amenities
Smoking and vaping are prohibited in all City of Boise parks, including within 20 feet of the Boise River Greenbelt, except in designated areas within Ann Morrison and Julia Davis Parks and at city-owned golf courses.
Unauthorized vehicles will be towed at owner's risk and expense. You can contact Boise Valley Towing by calling (208) 389-9707.
The 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.
Health of the Reserve
In 2018, the ecological conditions of Oregon Trail Reserve were assessed to include plant species inventories, shrub and perennial bunchgrass density, vegetative cover, and more. These data are used to guide management of the reserve.
About the Oregon Trail Reserve
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 and 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.
Columbia Development LLC added a .4-mile gravel walking path that connects the west end of the reserve 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.
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.
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 and 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.