The Boise Stage Stop has been a traveler’s favorite for “Feed N’ Fuel” for decades. Located 20 miles east of Boise, Idaho, this truck stop is actually one of Idaho’s oldest ongoing businesses, with nearly 125 years of history. The Boise Stage Stop is a full-service travel center located on I-84 between Mountain Home and Boise. Offering all sorts of amenities for truckers and 4-wheel travelers alike, the Boise Stage Stop has always given their truck-driving customers first priority. And, in addition to everything happening today at The Boise Stage Stop, it has also had a very colorful history.
Back in 1890 Joseph Boyle ran a post office and general store which he named The Regina Store after his mother, Regina Boyle Allen. On October 16, 1921 Boyle was killed in his store by a robber (a murder that was never solved). In 1922 Ken Compton purchased The Regina Store and remodeled it. When the old highway was changed in 1929 to what we now know and use as the interstate, the Comptons relocated the entire structure to the opposite side of the highway to what is now the current location of The Boise Stage Stop. The Comptons used the old building as living quarters and storage, and built a new store. They operated the store and post office until 1945, then moved to Boise.
In the early 1950s the store changed hands two or three times, and it was during this period of time that The Regina Store burned to the ground. It was soon rebuilt and named The Mayfield Stage. After another name change, it became All The Kings Men. Later, the store’s name was changed again to Sukies, and then finally to what it is known as today – The Boise Stage Stop. Over the years the store has changed names, location and owners, but it has stood the test of time as one of Idaho’s favorite and most-friendly travel centers. Today, it is still the only place to stop off Exit 71 along I-84.
Idaho’s eastern desert is peppered with places that are little more than ruins. Places like Mayfield, a now-defunct old steam-engine water town, which is nothing more than an abandoned school and three other crumbling structures next to a few trailers in Orchard. Similar sights with names like Ada, Elmore, Dixie and Regina are as old as other towns in the Treasure Valley, but their lack of infrastructure doesn’t even qualify them to be called ghost towns anymore. The one place that flourished and keeps continuing to grow in this desolate environment is The Boise Stage Stop. Today, instead of cowboys, horses and stagecoaches, its customers are grateful truckers and travelers passing through the Treasure Valley.
The Boise Stage Stop is a place many drivers look forward to long before they get there. Parking is always free, and when I talked with Cathy Reichert, she told me that she was surprised to learn that other truck stops charge for parking. The amenities provided at The Boise Stage Stop are so much more than just the usual fuel, food, convenience store, showers and driver lounge. In addition to all of those things, this location also offers all sorts of freshly-prepared food, horse corrals, dog runs, entertainment and more.
In the restaurant, all sorts of breads, rolls, biscuits, pies, cookies, brownies and cakes are all fresh-baked daily to control quality and freshness. At the far end of the restaurant is an oasis in the desert – an aeroponics garden which provides fresh produce year-round. There are lots of dogs that ride along with their owners, and when you stop here you can let them out in one of the two dog runs or use the dog walk. For travelers with horses, there are four corrals, giving travelers a safe place to let their horses out to stretch, eat and maybe stay overnight. There is also an RV dump and wifi – and both are free.
Dan Smith owns High Desert Horses Custom Knives and Leather, a shop that is on the premises. I was surprised to find that The Boise Stage Stop even has two payphones. Some of you might not even know what a payphone is, but because of the invention and popularity of the cellular phone, payphones have pretty much went the way of the dinosaurs! The Boise Stage Stop is also active in their community, hosting bike clubs, motorcycle clubs, car clubs and holiday bazaars. At some point, the truck wash and shop was converted into an Event Center, and the last Saturday of every month there is an acoustic dance with local musicians playing harmonica and guitar (pretty hip, for a truck stop). The Event Center is also available for a variety of occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, and graduations, just to name a few. There is a large variety of buffet options offered, as well.
From spring through the fall, the Stage Stop Market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. This “Farmer’s Market” type of store features fresh local produce, homemade gifts, and much more. What a treat this would be when you are out on the road! Truckstop Ministries also offers drivers an opportunity to attend a service every Sunday morning in the TV break room. And once your soul is replenished, why not head to the gym and get your body refreshed, too? A gym offers drivers trying to stay healthy a nice place to workout. A little exercise after a good meal is a great way to work off some calories and work up a little sweat. After a nice hot (or cool, depending on the season) shower, you’re ready to hit the road feeling invigorated and refreshed.
Speaking of healthy living, their aeroponics garden is a relatively-new way of growing plants in space-saving towers using only water and air, eliminating the need for soil. The reservoirs at the bottom of the towers are filled with water to the top of the tower where it cascades down the inside, watering all of the plant’s roots that are growing in the towers. This tower gardening system has a faster planting to harvesting time, and by staggering planting among many towers, they are able to continually harvest fresh produce for the restaurant. Diners get to enjoy the nice ambiance of the warm lights and flowing water while dining on fresh produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, lettuce and herbs, throughout the year.
In the Travel Center day and age we live in, I think it’s pretty cool that a sign still hangs at The Boise Stage Stop that says, “NOTICE: All are welcome… But this is a truck stop… Our drivers will be served first… Thank You!” I applaud them for this, and wish that more “truck stops” felt this way. Truckers give their vote of approval when they stop there, and if you look online, most of the reviews rave about their food and service.
If you are in a hurry, there are fresh made-to-order sandwiches and also hot items to-go in their store. They make their own sandwiches as a delicious alternative to the usual pre-packaged options at most truck stops. With a fuel purchase, there are also trucker specials: with 25 gallons you get a free 16 oz. coffee; 50 gallons a free 16 oz. coffee, biscuits and gravy or a bowl of chili; and with 75 gallons you can add a free shower to the 50-gallon special (having been there myself, I know how nice the showers are at The Boise Stage Stop).
There are so many reasons to make the stop at Exit 71 besides just fuel. Their attention to detail, when it comes to the freshest products possible, in a place that is in the middle of a desert, is appreciated by the drivers who make this a must-stop on their trips through Idaho. This is a great place to get out and stretch your legs, workout, take the dog for a walk, or let the horses out for a little hay and some rest from a long ride. It is also a great place to soak up the history and imagine what it would have been like 125 years ago.
If you’re rolling through Idaho on I-84, be sure to stop in and check out all the surprising extras that The Boise Stage Stop has to offer. But if you can’t make it to Idaho, you can still check them out on their website (www.boisestagestop.org). You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. From stagecoaches to the trucks of today, from payphones to wifi, and from actually talking face-to-face to Twitter, The Boise Stage Stop has seen it all in their 125-year history. And, after all of these years, it is still a great place for Feed N’ Fuel – and a whole lot more!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks go out to Cina Sorensen and The Boise Stage Stop for providing the photos for this article.