City Government

A Gem Hiding In Plain Sight–Table Rock


Like a silent sentinel, Table Rock stands guard over the City of Trees and provides a scenic vista equaled only in cities like Rio and perhaps a few smaller metro areas.


It provided the stone for the Statehouse as well as the Old Pen prison and the cross–like it or not–can be seen as a familiar landmark for miles.

The views from the mesa are spectacular and cause one to marvel when it comes to mind the Owyhee Mountains are a good 50 miles away to the south and the ridges visible to the west are close to 100 miles away. It is fun to identify one’s workplace, home, or the Depot and Capitol from the vista. To the North lies Bogus Basin and the entire Boise Front. Natural wilderness to the right and urban sprawl at your toes.


Thursday afternoon we made the short journey to the top up Reserve Street to Table Rock Road from Fort and met half a dozen locals who were showing off their “special spot” to visiting relatives–all of them endorsed the idea of making the area a park.


There isn’t much enthusiasm from officialdom. Past inquiries were met with concerns of traffic, kids drinking, poor road conditions, lack of security, and no railings. If those obstacles couldn’t be overcome we wouldn’t have any popular scenic views anyplace–let alone in a place that strives to become the “most livable city in America.”


A park is probably easier to champion than accomplish. The area is owned by the Idaho Historical Society as part of the Old Pen Museum, but is open only summer months. You can walk up anytime, but parking anywhere within a quarter mile of the gate is prohibited.

Perhaps the state would be willing to offer up the viewpoint to Boise in exchange for putting some of the cash Fish and Game is promising to pay for Hammer Flat into paving and safety improvements.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Grumpy ole guy
    Jun 10, 2010, 10:36 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. Table Rock is a wonderful place for a solitary reflection or a visiting friend. It should be in the public’s ownership and accessible. I have no problem is “they” want to make it a day-light only place, unless and until there is more use and more ability to patrol; although the vista during the night-time hours is equally breath-taking. It would be nice if it could be one during some designated after-sunlight hours. I’d love to see it preserved in a natural state, before any more of the ugly towers and cinder-block buildings go up.
    Wouldn’t bother me, a lot, if the police wanted to move their shooting range there and use the cross, as a target, but I won’t suggest that, since I know how much the Guardian eschews controversy.

  2. I moved here 25 years ago from the east coast and when I first viewed Table Rock, I thought I was in Klan territory and wondered what type of city I had moved to. To this day I am offended that a symbol of one particular religion would be so prominently displayed above our city, as if silently telling those of us who may not be of the Christian faith that we are not true members of the city of trees.

  3. It just always amazes me when public land is closed to the public.
    Who makes these rules?

  4. sam the sham
    Jun 11, 2010, 7:47 am

    I have mixed feelings about the use of Tablerock. People are so careless with the foothills, both the users and the caretakers. If a park is made, then restrooms will eventually have to be provided. Sidewalks, fences, signs, benches – the list is endless. There was a time when people did wander freely, but there were much fewer people in the valley at that time. And the area was always littered with beer bottles. I also had a friend in junior high who feel off Tablerock, spending the rest of his life in nursing homes – he called it his Waterloo.
    As it is, it remains unharmed from the masses of dog walkers, Jeeps, and toilets.
    So who owns the area of land on which the cross sits? Certainly not the state or that old hubbub would start all over again.

    EDITOR NOTE–State Land Board sold the few feet around the cross to the JAYCEES many years ago.

  5. Mr. Guardian – I’m all for expanding access to Table Rock – as long as they can figure out some way to keep non-Christians from using it! We don’t want pagans and heathens up there!

    Of course I jest.

    Any discussion about Table Rock MUST devolve into a debate about that horrible cross!

    “Frustrated” opens up old wounds. And raises the obvious question… should someone be able to move into a community with long-established traditions and/or landmarks, and then declare how offended he is by those landmarks and traditions, and demand their removal?

    My chosen religion doesn’t prominently display crosses, but as a lifelong (56 years) Boise resident, I’m totally comfortable with that cross up there… even as a young child, it oriented me. I like it! If my newly-arrived neighbor doesn’t, I’m sympathetic to a degree… but can’t you be neighborly enough to just look away if you find it so offensive, and let your neighbor enjoy it? Maybe “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? (Jesus) Or if Jesus offends, “can’t we all just get along?” (Rodney King) Or, “Lighten up, Francis!”? (Sgt. Hulka, in “Stripes”)

    EDITOR NOTE– As usual, the GUARDIAN has the solution: We can just issue “grandfather” rights to Jesus and his cross. Leave it there as a symbol of an ancient religion (more than 2010 years old) and not allow any more religious symbols to be erected on public land in the future.

  6. Rod in SE Boise
    Jun 11, 2010, 11:30 am

    …”concerns of traffic, kids drinking, poor road conditions, lack of security, and no railings.”

    Perhaps those concerns warrant closing Tablerock at night but certainly not during the day. Tablerock should be open during daylight hours, year-round.

    And, on that other, totally un-related issue, the cross: Since we left the dark ages behind centuries ago, the cross (or any other religious symbol) should be offensive to everyone.

  7. Excellent write up Dave. This cause is near and dear to me and I’ll pledge right here and now to assist any way I can to help formalize some sort of reserve or park. I’ve spent quality time talking to others about it in the last decade and I’ve met a wall of obstinance from powerful people thinking its a waste of time. I’ve done some preliminary research and enlisted the aid of others in and out of government looking into this issue. One is Tyler Nelson, Morley’s son, who also wants to champion some preservation on behalf of his dad who used to take him up there to watch raptor behavior.

    If Boise has a trademark, Tablerock is it, even without the cross. Frustrated, I share the sentiment since I’m a bright line person on the separation of church and state. Its easier for me being raised Christian to accept it, or at least overlook how it was established. And I actually think its kinda cool. I tend not to look on it as a religious symbol, one which ironically breaks a commandment, and tend to look it as a “T” for Tablerock.

    I do think its imperative that if we are serious about following through on this, we gotta leave the divisive cross issue out of it and champion the cause with the notion of keeping the cross, maybe even advocating for it, in order to secure the support among right wing detractors. Dave, while not new, your suggestion in this post is brilliant and I hope it serves as a catalyst. Like I said I’m used to rolling rocks up hill, so I’m committed if you are.

  8. serendipity
    Jun 11, 2010, 9:52 pm

    About the cross I’m with Dave:
    “Leave it there as a symbol of an ancient religion (more than 2010 years old) and not allow any more religious symbols to be erected on public land in the future.”

    As for making it a park because of its scenic value: not agreed, for all of the reasons already broached. For an equally and even higher and more inspiring view, just take a hike, or drive, up the hill toward Bogus Basin. I sometimes go there around sunset to snap photos, or just to smell the sagebrush.Magnifique.

  9. Gee Frustrated, it must really suck to have something so offensive right in front of you for so many years. And they are all over the place as well! We call them LANDMARKS and we really kind of like them! When I look up and see that cross, I am sorry that I don’t see CHRISTIANITY blinking over the valley, I just see another landmark that makes this city unique.
    The road to Table Rock was closed about three years after the last dozen or so, houses were built up there. Google who those houses belong to and then you will see why there will, very likely, never a park up there! Unless, of course, there is a road put up there from the east side. It is an idea that has floated in and out the valley many times. Unfortunately, it probably is one of those great opportunities that will never see the light of legislative day.

  10. sam the sham
    Jun 11, 2010, 11:33 pm

    Sisyphus – when one of my kids was very young she asked “how does a vampire know if it’s a cross, a plus sign or the letter t” – T has always been Tablerock for me and mine.
    (it has to be that way to live with it).

  11. I agree with Sis – call the cross a “T”. Perhaps some volunteer group could make cleaning up Table Rock their project. As for railings – it has been without railings from the beginning of time. Has anyone been to the overlook of the Snake River above Swan Falls Dam? I would have to get on my belly and inch my way out to look down. Don’t see any railings there. Put up a sign that says “proceed at your own risk.”

  12. Frustrated
    I guess the best thing you could do is move back.
    Never have I thought of it being any thing else but Table Rock. Never have I thought of it being Christian faith or any other symbol. Its always been a Welcome Home sign for me and my family when I was traveling late at night.

  13. untamedshrew
    Jun 12, 2010, 11:35 am

    The Table Rock cross is a done deal and is now irrelevant to this issue. The State clearly should not have sold the property (a small piece of land completely surrounded by state property sold to a private entity for the sole purpose of allowing the cross to remain), but it did, it wasn’t challenged at the time, it was unsuccessfully challenged in the 90’s, and now nothing more can be done. Moving on.

    I took my kids up to Table Rock once a long time ago. Broken glass, used condoms, and other garbage everywhere. It was gross and dangerous. Assuming it’s in the same condition, “we” should be embarrassed to call it our city’s “landmark.” I see nothing cool about it.

  14. In the 30-some years I’ve been in the Treasure Valley, I’ve never been to Table Rock! Perhaps it’s time to check it out. The cross neither offends me nor inspires me. I am secure in my own religion. I look at the cross the same as the Native American murals at the old Ada County courthouse. They are relics of the past and have grandfather rights. I would like to see Table Rock more open to the public, but secure with signage the same as other potentially dangerous Idaho sites. It’s been interesting to hear comments on this topic. If all else fails, perhaps the cross could be tipped on its side as in X marks the spot!

  15. KTA, you owe yourself a trip up there. The view is amazing! 30 years ago I attended a planning meeting with the city. Some “long haired” young planner testified that if you went up to Table Rock and looked over the valley, every thing you saw would be doubled by the year 2000. He was summarily dismissed as “nuts”! In hindsight, he was a very smart young man. It is sad that there is virtually no chance of that becoming a park.

  16. I think the flourescent tube lights on the Table Rock cross are really a lame statement for the Boise area “Christians”. If they really wanted the cross to stand for their beliefs, why didn’t they step up to the plate and run a gas line up there and flame the cross on every night?

  17. Cross Trainer
    Jun 14, 2010, 11:52 am

    “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    Maybe we should pull down the Lincoln Memorial too, since the word “God” dares to be included in his speech…

  18. That would be very cool indeed, dog. I’ve always thought about opening it up for everyone’s religious symbols and your idea would work great for the Sikhs and their flaming sword.

    Not far in the past, the Guardian or some other site made a list of places to go when in Boise. When I’m up there it is often populated with folks visiting from out of town. But as her shrewness points out, its its often in a state of embarrassment. It receives some occasional TLC from a scout troop etc. But it needs to be on the Boise Parks system route with trashcans and regular trash pickup. Also it desperately needs some pit toilets. Some low level walls made from the abundant sandstone up there would give a national park feel yet not detracting from the natural state.

    Alas I have no solution for the abundant radio/cell phone towers which create an eyesore.

  19. Cyclops you hit the nail on the head. Some of the neighbors below would not let that happen and may be in an elected position to make sure it does not.

  20. Doesn’t it seem strange that the “cross” was a method of execution for centuries before any Christians came along! It is truly weird, to me, that something more accurately attributed to Romulus and Remus is so readily associated with Christianity! Why do some of you seem so afraid of, simply, the method of execution of the times?

  21. The gate is there due to the fact of damage to the radio sites after dark. I know, due to the fact I replaced equipment that was shot up, ect. Also the state only owns parts of TR. The southeast side is privately owned. My .02

  22. Table Rock should be open to the public during the day as it is the best place to get a good look at the Depot!

  23. Now THAT Shoogi, is funny!!

  24. As a very liberal non evangelical type christian, I find that having been here for 57 years counts for nothing. Newcomers don’t like the cross on table rock. Waa waa. Like spending time thinking about that trumps other issues. Also, if we put some kind of park or other monument there, would not the constant stream of cars going up there change the lives of those who live in those homes?

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