Journey to ‘The Crows Nest’ on Top of Idaho’s Capitol Building in Boise [PHOTOS]
I was given a remarkable opportunity to explore Idaho's beautiful and historic capital building in downtown Boise. Join me through a serious of photos and information as we head all the way to the top of The Idaho State Capitol Building. When I say all the way to the top I mean up and outside to the top of what is nicknamed, 'the crows nest. It is the round outer lookout or deck at the top, below the golden eagle. Over 200 feet up.
Thank goodness I wore jeans and tennis shoes for this journey because I had an idea what I was getting myself into but nothing could prepare me. The experience and the final view far exceeded expectations. There was some serious climbing involved and I can say honestly that my legs and glutes are sore today from it.
I have some wonderful, hilarious, and incredibly knowledgeable friends who work for the state and help oversee projects. Currently there is a massive restoration project underway, read more about that and see photos here, after you finish this article. Here is a picture from the top of the dome looking down at the construction scaffolding currently taking up the middle section of the building.
A few quick facts about the Idaho State Capitol from the Idaho Capitol Commission Government website. Before we start our journey to the top.
- In 1905, the Idaho legislature passed the bill authorizing construction of the Capitol Building.
- The dome and central parts of the Capitol were built first—from 1905-1912.
- The wings (House and Senate chambers) were constructed during 1919 and 1920.
- Most of the superstructure is made of sandstone taken from Table Rock (near Boise).
- Convicts from the old Idaho Penitentiary were responsible for transporting the 10-ton sandstone blocks from the quarry.
- Four types of marble were used for the Capitol’s interior: red from Georgia, gray from Alaska, green from Vermont, black from Italy
- From the first floor to the eagle atop the dome, the Idaho Capitol Building rises 208 feet. See a diagram of the capitol dome.
- The floor area of the building when completed was 201,720 square feet.
- Over 50,000 square feet of artistically-carved marble exists in the building.
- The original cost to construct the Capitol was $2.1 million.
- Replacement costs today would be over $100 million with many materials considered irreplaceable.
- The eagle atop the dome stands 5 feet 7 inches and is made of copper. In 2005, as part of the exterior restoration, it received a new gilding of gold leaf.
Now lets start the journey of getting to the top, I cant wait to share the view of the city from the top with you. First when I am talking about 'the crows nest' this is where we are going...
Visitors may see floors 1 thru 4 of the Idaho State Capitol Building in Downtown Boise. Although there are some visitation limits currently due to the restoration projects that take up the center of the building. This photo was taken overlooking the front garden and into Downtown Boise from the 4th floor. This is as far as visitors are able to go.
After this everything had to be scanned through or unlocked with specail fobs and keys. I didn't get a photo of the next area that took us up to the first outer layer but it was old historic brick that was signed by state workers, and I could clearly see some signatures from past Idaho State Paige's. After going through that room we then went through a glass door to another landing and up a short metal staircase, then turned up another staircase that led outside to this area.
Here are views of Downtown Boise and the Foothills from the main outer circle of the Capitol building. You can also see from here the top of the two chambers on either side of the main tower.
Keep in mind it was over 100 degrees yesterday at this point me and my two buddies were already hot and sweaty but we were not even close to done yet. Time to keep going up! :)
To give you perspective here is a side view showing these stairs
At the top of those -very steep- stairs there was a bird net and you had to be careful where you put your hands because there were bird spikes at the top of the railing as well. Then there was a small section where, at the top of the stairs before the door opened up to enter the top portion where you are very high and very much on the edge of the building. I was fairly warned that I could not do this if I was scared of heights. I don't consider myself scared of heights but just about anyone would be feeling some nerves at this point. The door opened up to a landing where we could see the stars at the top of the dome. When you come visit the Capitol Building and look up you see this....
See that blue center with stars? Beautiful right? Well check this out....
That is what it looks like from above the dome, want to see something even cooler? I got to sign it... tehehe
See the middle part we are standing next to? Looking down from that is the photo that was taken (the first one I posted in this article) where you can see the scaffolding going all the way down from the top. I couldn't get myself to lean over that far over the rail with both hands on my phone to get the photo so luckily Josh handled it.
You would think that this is the top right? Nope, this is where things get really interesting as we continue to make our was as high as we can go. It is over 100 degrees outside and feels like about 150 up here in the top of the capitol plus we have climbed what feels like a gazillion stairs by now... The spiral stairs after this were narrow and steep...
Yikes! You can also see through at parts to down below, again feeling it with the heights thing!
Once you get to the top however, a door opened and suddenly, my breath was taken away. We made it to the top of the Idaho State Capitol Building. The view left me speechless.
So there you have it, the trip to the top. A journey and experience I will never forget. Thank you for coming along for the ride. Now how the heck do we get down?
Seriously though, getting down was tricky but we made it ;)