Skip to main content

Kathryn Albertson Park

LOCATIONriver at Kathryn Albertson Park

Take the Vista Avenue Exit off I-84. Proceed north on Vista Avenue to Capitol Boulevard. Follow Capitol Boulevard to Battery Street, the first intersection north of the BSU campus. Turn west on Battery Street (becomes River Street after one block) to Americana Blvd. Turn south on Americana Blvd. Go one-half mile to Kathryn Albertson Park


Kathryn Albertson Park is a unique home for wildlife and place for people. Wildlife and people living together may seem improbable, yet through thoughtful landscape architecture, biological and environmental planning, and an attitude of mutual respect, wildlife is thriving in the company of people.

The park incorporates three major landscape features of approximately equal size: vegetation, ponds, and open space. Over 400 trees, 2,000 shrubs and a myriad of flowers and grasses have been planted to date, offering food from ground level to tree-tops, and giving plenty of cover. This diversity allows a variety of wildlife to live in a small area. On-site wells and inflow from Ann Morrison Park fill the ponds with both water and nutrients. Intentionally shallow, these ponds warm up quickly in spring and stimulate the growth of aquatic insects and plants. These in turn become food for many kinds of wildlife, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. Islands in the ponds offer loafing, roosting, and nesting spots for birds, and homes for other creatures, such as muskrats.


The idea of creating an attractive home for wildlife belonged to Joe Albertson, one of the city’s most respected citizens and founder of the supermarket chain that bears his name. An appreciation for outdoor experiences and desire to help Idaho’s wildlife resources inspired Mr. Albertson to establish an urban wildlife sanctuary on land he owned near the Boise River.

In approximately 14 months time, this 40 acre horse pasture was transformed by landscape architect Hans Borbonus. On October 17, 1989, Kathryn Albertson Park was dedicated and donated to the Boise Park System as a gift to the people of Idaho.

As you stroll the park looking for wildlife, you will find a bit of Idaho history as well. Bridging the ponds are yellowed wooden uprights, once part of an Idaho Power Company span that crossed the Snake River near Twin Falls. The red tile roof of “The Rookery” formerly topped Albertson’s first supermarket, opened in Boise in 1939. Supporting the roof are broad wooden beams from a hangar located where BSU now stands. The first commercial air-mail service in the country, in 1926, operated from this airport and spawned what is now United Airlines. One notable visitor there was Charles Lindbergh, on his triumphant tour of the nation in 1927.

Kathryn Albertson Urban Wildlife Sanctuary provides a home for wildlife and a place for people. The park provides educators the opportunity to illustrate the multidisciplinary nature of environmental education and to demonstrate that the natural and human-made environments can be compatible.