BOISE, Idaho — It has been more than a year since the Idaho State Historical Society closed the parking lot on top of the Table Rock Mesa because of all the impacts that were happening at this iconic spot.
The Idaho State Historical Society manages this area through an agreement with the Idaho Department of Lands and because of the growth and the popularity of Table Rock problems like vandalism, trespassing and criminal activity were creating too many problems.
"Since last year that vandalism has exponentially gone down the reports of crimes from the Ada County Sheriff and Boise Police all of that has gone down," said Amber Beierle of the ISHA.
It wasn't an easy decision to close the parking lot and this summer ACHD moved the access gate down to the end of the pavement, people can still park on Table Rock Road but it still requires a hike to get to the top.
"We got a community partnership together with the Table Rock Access Advisory Committee or TRAC and we really relied on those community partners to find what was the main thing people used Table Rock for and the most productive use was hiking, some rock climbing and biking," said Beierle. "We understood there was some criminal activity we wanted to curb and we wanted to promote those activities."
The hikers we talked to don't seem to mind the closure, but like me, many hikers climb the most popular trail in the foothills for exercise and the reward the views offer after a 1.7-mile climb to the top.
"The best way to do that is to park here at the Old Penitentiary and take the trailhead up and really earn that view that you get," said Beierle.
But we also talked with people who say it is a struggle to reach the top and for people with disabilities removing parking has made it inaccessible for a lot of people.
"We understand that is an important concern we are not closed to conversations about opening partnerships to get folks up there but right now we simply don’t have the means to do that," said Beierle.
The Idaho State Historial Society welcomes suggestions from the public as they continue to work to balance impacts with accessibility.