When you mention Idaho, you’ll soon realize that most people don’t know much about Idaho except its “famous potatoes.” Ask someone outside the states, and you’ll be lucky if they know where it is. That said, it’s one of the most beautiful states in the west.
Adjacent to Washington and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho is massive. It’s been said if you flatten all the mountains in Idaho, the state would be the size of Texas. Idaho covers two time zones, runs from Canada to Nevada, and encompasses the western side of the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains. Rivers, mountains and farmland dominate the state’s landscape. The panhandle has emerald green hillsides, timbered mountains and pristine lakes. Central Idaho is covered with jagged peaks. The Snake River Plain, with its wide open vistas, irrigated farm lands and vibrant cities forms the character of Southern Idaho. And, it’s mountains and landscapes are to die for.
Idaho’s history lies with its native tribes, the Lewis and Clark Expedition and determined pioneers on the Oregon Trail. Today’s Idaho is both cosmopolitan and small-town friendly. Boise, the capital and largest city, developed near Fort Boise along the Oregon Trail has grown to a population of 190,000. Agriculture, manufacturing and tourism are Idaho’s major industries. A few park mentions include:
- Nez Perce National Historical Park – Since time immemorial, the Nimiipuu or Nez Perce have lived among the rivers, canyons, and prairies of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Despite the cataclysmic change of the past two centuries, the Nez Perce are still here. Explore the park’s 38 sites and experience the story of a people who are still part of this landscape. www.nps.gov/nepe/
- Nez Perce National Forest – 2.2 million acres of beautiful and diverse land. From the dry, rugged canyons of the Salmon River to the moist cedar forests of the Selway drainage, the forest offers something for everyone. This vast, diverse area is managed to provide a variety of goods and services, including breathtaking scenery, wilderness, wildlife, fisheries, timber harvest, livestock grazing, mining, pristine water quality, and an array of recreation opportunities. The Forest is best known for its wild character. Nearly half of the Forest is designated wilderness. It also sports two rivers popular with thrill-seeking floaters — the Selway and the Salmon. fs.usda.gov/nezperce
- Beartooth All-American Road – Witness the rare transition of lush forest ecosystem to alpine tundra in just a few miles on the highest elevation road in the Northern Rockies, and access the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
- Circle the Continental Divide Driving Tour – Discover the best of the Wyoming Rocky Mountains – including national parks, museums, rodeos, pioneer trails, the Wind River Indian Reservation, stunning scenery, and wildlife.
- Hells Canyon All-American Road – Head to the Oregon Rockies to access the deepest canyon in North America – with extraordinary boating, wildlife viewing, geological wonders, and exhilarating outdoor adventure.
- Hot Springs Circle Tour – Witness the spectacular scenery, charming towns, and 6 hot springs of this drive through the Kootenay region of the British Columbia Rocky Mountains.
- International Selkirk Loop All-American Road – Travel the Selkirk Range of the British Columbia, Idaho, and Washington Rocky Mountains – offering stunning vistas, wildlife, year-round recreation, and colorful small towns.
- Montana Scenic Loop – Enjoy striking vistas of awe-inspiring mountains, placid trout streams, and abundant wildlife as they unfold along a nearly 400-mile loop of the US Rockies, from Glacier National Park around the Great Bear, Bob Marshall, and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas.
- Northwest Passage Scenic Byway – Explore the Idaho Rockies, including the land of the Nez Perce Indians, and trace the Lewis & Clark Expedition route across the Bitterroot Mountains and along the Wild and Scenic Clearwater and Lochsa rivers.
- Salmon River-Sawtooth Scenic Byways – Visit the homeland of Sacajawea – the only woman on the Lewis & Clark Expedition – and experience the majesty of the Idaho Rockies, including the Salmon River of No Return, Sawtooth Mountains, and world-class Sun Valley Resort.
- Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park Loop – Trace this stunning route through the Montana Rockies, formed by Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana, which features breathtaking scenery and the popular Going-to-the-Sun Road.
- Yellowstone-Grand Teton Loop – Explore our nation’s first national park – nestled in the heart of the Wyoming Rocky Mountains – including geysers, historic lodges, wildlife, the peaks of the Grand Teton Mountains, and Jackson Hole. This is one of my favorites btw. The Teton mountains are truly inspirational and almost spiritual – I felt that way both times I visited.
- David Thompson Historic Route . Follow the route by which famous explorer David Thompson mapped out 1.5 million square miles of the US and Canadian Rockies in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
- Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail . Retrace the legendary Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1805 and 1806 through the Montana, Idaho, and Washington Rocky Mountains.
- Nez Perce National Historical Trail . Set out from the base of the Oregon Rockies, and follow in the footsteps of the 1,170-mile flight through Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana by 750 Nez Perce men, women, and children – led by Chief Joseph – before they surrendered to the U.S. Army in 1877, just south of the Canadian border.
- Oregon National Historic Trail . Re-map the rugged trail through southern Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon that served as the main overland migration route between 1841 and 1869, used by settlers, ranchers, farmers, miners, and entrepreneurs journeying to the Pacific Northwest.
Other attractions include:
See Idaho from a new perspective – from the basket of a hot air balloon. Gently floating in a hot air balloon is like no other flight experience, providing a bird’s eye view of the landscape drifting beneath you that cannot be seen from a plane.
Skiing & Boarding
Try our long, perfectly groomed runs and our “died-and-gone-to-heaven” back country skiing. Ski in style at world-class resorts including Bogus Basin Mountain Resort, Brundage Mountain Resort, Silver Mountain Resort, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Sun Valley, and Tamarack Resort.
Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
Idaho has more whitewater river miles than any other state in the lower 48, including the Lochsa River, the Payette, the Snake and the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Grab an oar and have an adventure.
Idaho’s Silver Creek, the Henrys Fork, and the South Fork of the Snake are world renowned for their fly-fishing opportunities. Whether you hope to catch dinner or just catch and release, Idaho is the perfect place to drop a line.
From world-class resorts to undiscovered municipal gems, Idaho has golf courses that will both challenge and delight. You can take the Idaho Golf Trail – a golf vacation package that combines eight of Idaho’s best courses with resort style accommodations. O
Lakes & Rivers
Thousands of miles of whitewater Recreational rivers and lakes are definitely the norm in Idaho. From extreme whitewater rafting to world-class fishing, there’s a water adventure for every desire in Idaho.
First photo credit: idaho1982.blogspot.com and second photo credit: onlyhdwallpapers.com