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Old Idaho Penitentiary

2445 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, ID 83712
208-334-2844
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95%
Ranked #4 of 65 Attractions in Boise
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Historic Sites, Cultural
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Attraction details
Owner description: In 1872 the Idaho Territorial Prison opened its doors to some of the most desperate and mean criminals the West could offer. In 1973 the Idaho State Penitentiary closed to inmates. Now our doors are open for visitors to explore over 100 years of Idaho's unique prison history. Open year-round, visitors of the Old Idaho Penitentiary can walk through solitary confinement, cell blocks, and the gallows. Visit today and relive the Old Pen's exciting past of daring escapes, scandals, and executions. Call for more details about special events, educational programs and guided tours.

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224 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
9 attraction reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2014 NEW

It is sort of scary to see how prisoners used to live: tiny hard cots, slop buckets in the corner, and no libraries, carpets, recreation facilities or other amenities. And they worked milking cows in the huge stone barns, tending the vast grounds, manufacturing various products. The entire story is revealed and preserved at this unique site. Near Halloween the... More

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1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2014

Would give it a 5 but management of the Idaho historical society should employ people who care about customer service. Not just locking up up right at 5 pm.

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Orlando
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2014

Very realistic, the guides don't sugarcoat the conditions of the past residents, or their crimes. It is sad to see how some people lived based on their poor decisions, way back in the 1800s through to only a few decades back when the penitentiary closed. Would be very scary at night/halloween tours. Probably a one-time thing to do, but worth... More

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Boise, Idaho
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
12 attraction reviews
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 4, 2014

Great history of the area. Take a tour day or night, but the night tour can be a bit scary, there are still prisoners walking the halls there. The gardens next door are also a must see, mid summer to fall is the best time. Highly Recommended.

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Fresno, California
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
8 attraction reviews
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 30, 2014

Very authentic, not boring at all. A must stop place, lots of history. Oh and you must take the trail to the top of the granite rock. Beautiful view and along the way stop to read about the Old Idaho Lake. Amazing history of what was once the bottom of the lake!!!!

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Layton, Utah
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2014

This turned out to be a great place to visit. It was really interesting. I was worried about my kids having fun. They are 11 (girl) and 13 (boy). It wasn't a problem at all. It's an open tour where you walk around at your leisure. They also have an amazing gun display that my son particularly liked. The display... More

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Elwood
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2014

Nice to go through to see where you don't want to be. Take your time and read the info on the people that were there and why.

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Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 3, 2014

Go see this place for an interesting history tour. The tour guide was very informative and told some very interesting stories of the prisoners..

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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 attraction reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2014

We weren't planning to go to the penitentiary but found ourselves with extra time one afternoon. The penitentiary exceeded our expectations. If you visit it definitely go on a tour with a guide. We learned so much more than we would have on our own about prison life in the early part of the twentieth century. Very worthwhile. Wouldn't have... More

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Seattle, Washington
Top Contributor
81 reviews 81 reviews
33 attraction reviews
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2014

What an interesting history of a penitentiary in the "wild west." Be sure you take the guided tour ($5 each), as its worth the extra time and modest expense to hear the details about how Idaho dealt with its criminals. Lack of money and a general attitude of "each to his own" is at its peak here. Fun!

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