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Old Idaho Penitentiary Site, Boise

(4.6/5 based on 500+ reviews on the web)
Experience what prison life was like for the most notorious criminals of Idaho's "Wild West" and the guards that worked there at Old Idaho Penitentiary Site. The prison first received inmates in 1872 and remained a functioning prison for 101 years, housing a total of 13,000 inmates. Walk through buildings like the dining hall, women's ward, and the maximum security area--Cell House 5--which served as Death Row. If you are feeling brave, lock yourself into one of the solitary confinement cells to better understand the harsh conditions of the prison's past. You can also take a guided tour. The facility is home to multiple exhibits, notably the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit of Arms and Armaments, which features one of the nation's largest collections of military history from Medieval times, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Our Boise vacation route planner makes visiting Old Idaho Penitentiary Site and other Boise attractions simple, and helps you make a travel plan personal to you.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Spent most of an afternoon checking out this historical Penitentiary. Excellent weapons museum. Only place like this I've ever been to. Great way to spend the afternoon. 
  • Of special interest is the solitary confinement area and the room where prisoners were hanged. The women cell block is free to visit and the jailhouse itself is only $5 as I recall. 
  • This historic place will really make you think. Prisoners were living here while I was in kindergarten. 
Google
  • Loved this place!! My man and I spent almost the full five hours here. It's so eerie and historic. I just wish more than anything we could have gone inside the warden and bishop house.... So beautiful. Would definitely recommend spending an afternoon here!
  • Well worth the drive and the admission price. Everything you wanted to know about the Idaho Penal System's beginnings. The Guard's quarters and Bishop's House are beautiful. The Botanical Gardens adjacent to the old prison are a treasure, and you should spend some time there.
  • This is one very interesting and historically informative location. My wife and I spent hours exploring the different building and reading all the placards about the inmates, warden, women's prison. The entrance fee is very reasonable. Make sure you check out the massive weapons collection that was donated; it is exceptional! This place is a must see for history buffs.
  • Make sure you take time for the guided tour. The docents add much more to the experience than one could get by simply wandering the grounds. The a gun museum and it's extensive collection within the prison grounds is a bonus.
  • Very nice museum. So much history, so many interesting characters that were incarcerated there. The volunteer guides are nice and are very knowledgeable. Well worth the visit.