Interesting facts about Idaho

idaho flag

Idaho is a state in the northwestern region of the United States.

It is bordered by Montana to the east and northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west. To the north, it shares a small portion of the Canadian border with the province of British Columbia.

As of March 2018, the population of Idaho was estimated to be 1,753,860. It is the 8th most populous state in the United States.

Idaho is the 14th largest state in the United States in terms of total area with 216,900 square kilometers (83,797 square miles).

Boise is the capital and most populous city of Idaho. It is located on the Boise River in southwestern Idaho. The city is a regional hub for jazz, theater, and indie music.


The landscape is rugged with some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the United States.

Idaho is a Rocky Mountain state with abundant natural resources and scenic areas.

With 80 recognized mountain ranges, Idaho is home to some of the most spectacular scenery and most rugged landscapes in the United States.

The most significant mountain ranges include the Bitterroots which stretch along much of its border with Montana, and the Caribou, Clearwater, Owyhee, Salmon River, Sawtooths and Seven Devils ranges.

Idaho’s highest point is Borah Peak at 3,859 meters (12,662 feet) above sea level, in the Lost River Range north of Mackay.

borah peak

Idaho’s lowest point is at 216 meters (710 feet) above sea level, in Lewiston, where the Clearwater River joins the Snake River and continues into Washington.

The major rivers in Idaho are the Snake River, the Clark Fork/Pend Oreille River, the Clearwater River, and the Salmon River.

The waters of the Snake River rush through Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in the United States at 2,436 meters (7,993 feet).

hell's canyon

The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area at 930,000 hectares (2.3 million acres) is the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the continental United States.

Idaho has 7 national park and 23 state parks.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a U.S. National Monument and national preserve in the Snake River Plain in central Idaho. The protected area’s features are volcanic and represent one of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. Craters of the Moon is huge; over 2,850 square kilometers (1,100 square miles) which is roughly the size of Rhode Island.

craters of the moon national monument and preserve

Sun Valley in southern Idaho attracts skiing enthusiasts from all over with its magnificent facilities for winter sports and its excellent tourist infrastructure. Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain offer downhill skiing for all levels of ability. The region has been a seasonal home to the rich and famous since first being brought to public attention by Ernest Hemingway in the late 1930s.

sun valley

Lake Coeur d’Alene is a natural lake in northern Idaho. Its northern end is in the city of Coeur d’Alene. It spans 40 kilometers (25 miles) in length and ranges from 1.5 to 5 kilometers (1 to 3 miles) wide with over 175 kilometers (109 miles) of shoreline. The lake was named after the Coeur d’Alene people.

lake coeur d'alene

Shoshone Falls is a waterfall on the Snake River in southern Idaho. Sometimes called the “Niagara of the West,” Shoshone Falls is 65 meters (212 feet) high — 14 meters (45 feet) higher than Niagara Falls — and flows over a rim nearly 300 meters (1,000 feet) wide.

shoshone falls

Silverwood Theme Park is an amusement park located in northern Idaho, United States, near the town of Coeur d’Alene. Owner Gary Norton opened the park in June 20, 1988. Originally, the park included a small assortment of carnival rides, a “main street” with shops and eateries, and an authentic steam train that traveled in a 30-minute loop around the owner’s property. Over the years, Silverwood has grown in both size and popularity, transforming from a small local amusement park to a regional theme park destination.

silverwood theme park

Humans may have been present in Idaho for 14,500 years. Excavations in 1959 at Wilson Butte Cave near Twin Falls revealed evidence of human activity, including arrowheads, that rank among the oldest dated artifacts in North America.

American Indian tribes predominant in the area in historic times included the Nez Perce and the Coeur d’Alene in the north; and the Northern and Western Shoshone and Bannock peoples in the south.

Idaho was one of the last areas in the lower 48 states of the US to be explored by people of European descent.

The Lewis and Clark expedition entered present-day Idaho on August 12, 1805, at Lemhi Pass.

Both the United States and Great Britain claimed the region until 1846, when the two governments signed the Oregon Treaty, transferring ownership to America.

idaho map

Thousands of miners rushed into Idaho when word of a major gold strike came in September 1860. Merchants and farmers followed, eager to make their fortunes “mining the miners.”

Idaho was eventually admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, becoming the 43rd state.

The exact origin of the name remains a mystery. In the early 1860s, when the United States Congress was considering organizing a new territory in the Rocky Mountains, eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested the name “Idaho”, which he claimed was derived from a Shoshone language term meaning “the sun comes from the mountains” or “gem of the mountains”. Willing later claimed he had simply invented the name.

The state seal of Idaho is the only state seal in the United States designed by a woman. In 1891, Emma Edwards Green, who had previously attended art school in New York, entered and won a competition sponsored by the First Legislature for the State of Idaho with her depiction of a miner, a woman signifying justice and various state natural resources.

seal of Idaho

Idaho’s nickname is “The Gem State” for the abundance of natural resources and scenic areas that include snow-capped mountain ranges, rapids, vast lakes and steep canyons.

The mountains of Idaho contain veins of gold, silver, lead, zinc, cobalt, copper, and many other rare minerals. Among these rare minerals are gems – star garnets (Idaho’s state gem), jasper, opal, jade, topaz, zircon, and tourmaline. There are 72 types of gemstones.

Idaho named the Appaloosa the state horse in 1975. The Appaloosa was brought over by the Spaniards in the 1700s and embraced by the Nez Perce tribe. They are identified by their colorful spotted patterns of their coats, mottled skin, striped hooves, and white outer coating around the eye.

Idaho is famous for potatoes, producing about one-third of the potatoes grown in the United States.

Thirteen U.S. states are split into two time zones, and Idaho’s one of them.