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Boise is the capital, largest city, and cultural center of Idaho. The clean and attractive but somewhat plain downtown is framed by mountains to the northeast and irrigated agricultural plains to the west. The economy is a diverse blend of agriculture, agricultural processing, light manufacturing, and high-tech industries, including Micron Technology (semiconductors), Hewlett-Packard, and J.R. Simplot (agriculture and french-fry fame). The presence of state government rounds out the economic picture. More recently, the mountains, pleasant climate and low costs relative to other West Coast locations has brought a strong surge of migrants, many from California, and the typical construction real estate and service businesses that emerge from such migration. Considerable recent job growth has resulted from this migration.
Outdoor recreation is abundant, with excellent fishing, hiking, bicycling, and other activities, particularly in the Boise National Forest just to the northeast. Bogus Basin offers an after-work ski opportunity 20 miles away. In town, the North End is a successful tree-shaded urban restoration for mixed residential and commercial use. The historic commercial area west of downtown has been revitalized and serves as a destination with a well-attended farmer’s market. Boise State University adds some college life, but entertainment and nightlife are not the city’s strong suits. Residential areas have begun to sprawl into agricultural lands to the west towards Eagle and Nampa, resulting in suburban sprawl and concerns about traffic and water supply, although many of these suburbs are more attractive than other Western counterparts. Mostly due to inbound migration, the area is experiencing an economic boom, but there are some questions how long it will continue and how it will affect the quality of life long term. Cost of living is growing (at 105) but is still reasonable especially for the region. Boise is an attractive capital city with a lot going for it today; its longer term evolution bears close watching.
The Boise Mountains, which rise 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet, are covered with a mix of sagebrush and chaparral, giving way to ridges of fir, spruce, and pine at the summits. To the south and west, the land is generally level with benches defined by former flows of the Boise and Snake rivers. Most of this land is used for irrigated agriculture. The climate is dry and seasonal with sufficient variation. Summer has a typical continental upland climate, with low humidity and generally pleasant days, punctuated by an occasional thunderstorm or heat wave from the south. Temperatures over 100[dg] F occur nearly every year. Winters are mostly mild with periods of clouds and brisk, stormy weather. There is little wind, and occasional cold spells drop temperatures to 10[dg] F or lower with occasional snow and periods of fog. Most precipitation occurs in the winter. Fall is ideal and spring is pleasant but marked with change. First freeze is early October, last is early May.