The Big Idaho Potato was supposed to spend only a year or two traveling the United States promoting the state’s most famous crop. But the 6-ton potato’s tour lasted six years.
The Idaho Potato Commission didn’t have any plans for the potato once it was replaced with a new one. The Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot was interested in putting it on display, but Kristie Wolfe had another idea.
Wolfe, a tiny-house developer who created a Hobbit Hole rental overlooking the Columbia River near Chelan, Washington, and a treehouse on the Big Island of Hawaii, wanted to turn the Big Idaho Potato into an Airbnb rental.
“It was always in my game plan,” said Wolfe, who spent two years on the road with the potato as an ambassador for the commission. “I had the perfect lot, and some day I was going to get that potato and turn it into something cool.”
Beginning at the end of May, guests will be able to stay in the Big Idaho Potato Hotel. Located in the unincorporated Ada County hamlet of Orchard, 25 miles southeast of Boise, it’s at 31581 S. Orchard Access Road, 5.4 miles south of the Boise Stage Stop off Interstate 84.
Wolfe owns the property and previously lived in a tiny house at the site.
The commission gave Wolfe the potato, which is 28 feet long, 12 feet wide and 11.5 feet tall. Having it as an Airbnb rental will continue to bring the potato and the commission notoriety, said Frank Muir, CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission.
“If you put it in a museum that’s one thing, but if you put it out here near Mountain Home, it’s a way of inviting people to experience Idaho in a unique way,” Muir said Monday during a media tour of the hotel.
The Big Idaho Potato Hotel, which will cost $200 a night plus $42 in taxes and fees, is for couples. With 336 square feet, it includes a queen-size bed, two easy chairs, an elk antler chandelier, a small sink, lights, heating and air conditioning, and a beverage cooler. There’s a separate bathroom that looks like a miniature steel silo with a round corrugated steel tub, a walk-in shower and sink and toilet.
The hollow interior of the Big Idaho Potato was used to store supplies and T-shirts, Spuddy Buddy stuffed animals and other promotional items during the cross-country tours. Wolfe added 8 inches of spray foam insulation to hide the frame, hooked the potato up to well water and a septic tank, and is readying it for electricity. She carved out two nooks next to the head of the bed and space for the sink and beverage cooler near the door at one end. She installed a wood floor.
Wolfe believes the Big Idaho Potato Hotel will be popular among residents of Southern Idaho and visitors from across the nation who may have seen the potato on tour or heard about it.
“We have a couple from Europe that’s doing a trip to the Oregon Coast,” she said in an interview. “They’re rerouting their trip to spend a night here, which is pretty fun.”
Wolfe has planted sweet potatoes around the spud and bought a Jersey cow to bring a rural feel to the property, which is located just south of Union Pacific Railroad’s Southern Idaho route and north of the Idaho Air National Guard Orchard Combat Training Center.
“It’s very American,” Wolfe said. “You’ve got potatoes and the military and the railroad. It’s a good way to experience Idaho in a night or two.”