66 Interesting Facts about Idaho, The Gem State

Idaho, situated in the northwestern region of the United States, is a state characterized by its stunning natural landscapes, agricultural abundance, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Known as the “Gem State,” Idaho boasts remarkable geographic diversity. Its western border is defined by the majestic Snake River, which has carved deep canyons like Hells Canyon, one of the deepest gorges in North America. To the north, the state shares a border with Canada’s British Columbia. Central Idaho features the rugged and picturesque Sawtooth Mountains, while the southern part is marked by vast plains and fertile farmland. To the east, the Bitterroot Mountains form part of the Rocky Mountain Range.

Idaho is renowned for its agricultural production, particularly in the cultivation of potatoes. The state is often called the “Potato State” due to its status as one of the top potato producers in the United States. Additionally, Idaho is known for its wheat, barley, sugar beets, and dairy farming. The fertile Snake River Plain provides excellent conditions for agriculture.

Idaho offers a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The state is a haven for activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and white-water rafting. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area, with over 700 miles of trails, is a hiking and backpacking haven. The state’s numerous rivers and lakes, including the Salmon River and Lake Coeur d’Alene, provide excellent opportunities for water sports and fishing. In the winter, Idaho’s mountains become a playground for skiers and snowboarders.

Sun Valley, located in central Idaho, is a world-renowned ski resort that has attracted celebrities and outdoor enthusiasts for decades. It offers excellent skiing and snowboarding during the winter months and transforms into a hub for hiking, mountain biking, and cultural events in the summer.

Boise, the state capital and largest city, is located in southwestern Idaho. It is known for its vibrant cultural scene, including museums, theaters, and a lively downtown area. The city also hosts the famous Boise River Greenbelt, a scenic pathway for biking and walking. Other urban centers like Coeur d’Alene in the northern panhandle and Idaho Falls in the eastern part of the state offer a mix of outdoor activities and cultural attractions.

Idaho State Capitol

Idaho State Capitol

What about Idaho interesting facts? Here are 66 interesting facts about Idaho, The Gem State.

  1. Potato Capital: Idaho is famous for its potatoes and is often referred to as the “Potato State.” It’s one of the top potato-producing states in the U.S.
  2. Gem State: Idaho is known as the “Gem State” due to its abundant deposits of precious and semi-precious gemstones, including garnets, star garnets, and opals.
  3. Star Garnets: Idaho is the only state in the U.S. where star garnets are found. These rare gemstones exhibit a star-like pattern when cut and polished.
  4. Outdoor Paradise: Idaho offers a wide range of outdoor activities, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking, fishing, and white-water rafting in the summer.
  5. Sawtooth Mountains: The Sawtooth Mountains in central Idaho are known for their jagged peaks and pristine wilderness. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area offers excellent hiking and camping opportunities.
  6. Hells Canyon: Hells Canyon, carved by the Snake River, is one of the deepest river gorges in North America and offers spectacular scenery.
  7. Sun Valley: Sun Valley is a world-renowned ski resort in Idaho, attracting winter sports enthusiasts and celebrities.
  8. Shoshone Falls: Often called the “Niagara of the West,” Shoshone Falls on the Snake River is even higher than Niagara Falls.
  9. Hiking Trails: Idaho has over 19,000 miles of hiking trails, making it a hiker’s paradise.
  10. Salmon River: The Salmon River, also known as the “River of No Return,” flows through rugged wilderness and offers great white-water rafting.
  11. Idaho’s Panhandle: The northern panhandle of Idaho is home to beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene, known for its clear waters and outdoor recreation.
  12. Hiking the Idaho Centennial Trail: The Idaho Centennial Trail spans 900 miles across the state, showcasing its diverse landscapes.
  13. Silver Valley: The Silver Valley in northern Idaho was once one of the world’s richest silver mining areas.
  14. Boise: Boise, the state capital, is known for its vibrant downtown, cultural attractions, and the Boise River Greenbelt.
  15. Idaho’s State Flower: The syringa, or mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii), is the state flower of Idaho.
  16. Idaho’s State Bird: The mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides) is the state bird of Idaho.
  17. Idaho’s State Tree: The western white pine (Pinus monticola) is the state tree of Idaho.
  18. Snake River: The Snake River, the largest tributary of the Columbia River, flows through Idaho and provides excellent fishing and white-water rafting opportunities.
  19. Idaho’s State Fish: The cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) is the state fish of Idaho.
  20. Idaho’s State Insect: The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is the state insect of Idaho.
  21. Idaho’s State Horse: The Appaloosa horse is the state horse of Idaho and is known for its distinctive spotted coat.
  22. Idaho’s State Vegetable: The potato is not only a major agricultural product but also the state vegetable of Idaho.
  23. Coeur d’Alene: Coeur d’Alene is a picturesque city known for its beautiful lake and vibrant downtown area.
  24. Hells Gate State Park: Located on the Snake River, this state park offers camping, boating, and fishing opportunities.
  25. Coeur d’Alene Resort: The Coeur d’Alene Resort features a famous floating golf green on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
  26. Boise State University: Boise State is known for its distinctive blue football field, known as the “Smurf Turf.”
  27. Idaho State University: Located in Pocatello, it’s known for its strong programs in health sciences and nuclear research.
  28. Lava Hot Springs: This small town in southeastern Idaho is famous for its natural hot springs.
  29. Idaho’s National Parks: Idaho is home to several national parks and monuments, including Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, City of Rocks National Reserve, and Minidoka National Historic Site.
  30. Potlatch: The town of Potlatch, Idaho, got its name from the Native American tradition of potlatch, a gift-giving feast.
  31. Idaho’s State Fossil: The Hagerman horse (Equus simplicidens) is the state fossil of Idaho.
  32. Idaho’s State Dance: The square dance is the state dance of Idaho.
  33. Atomic City: Atomic City, Idaho, was a key location for nuclear research during World War II and the Cold War.
  34. Old Mission State Park: This park is home to the Mission of the Sacred Heart, the oldest standing building in Idaho.
  35. Largest Wilderness Area: The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho is the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states.
  36. Idaho Wine Country: Idaho has a growing wine industry, particularly in the Snake River Valley.
  37. Idaho’s State Instrument: The steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is the state instrument of Idaho.
  38. Idaho’s State Gem: The star garnet is the state gem of Idaho.
  39. Idaho’s State Soil: Threebear soil, named after a researcher, is the state soil of Idaho.
  40. Old Idaho Penitentiary: This historic site in Boise was once a functioning prison and is now a museum.
  41. Idaho Shakespeare Festival: The festival offers outdoor theater performances in a scenic setting.
  42. Idaho’s State Raptor: The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) is the state raptor of Idaho.
  43. Idaho’s State Motto: “Esto perpetua” means “Let it be perpetual.”
  44. Idaho’s State Song: “Here We Have Idaho” is the state song.
  45. Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument: This monument preserves one of the world’s richest fossil deposits from the late Pliocene epoch.
  46. Sun Valley Film Festival: This annual event attracts filmmakers and cinephiles from around the world.
  47. Balloon Classic: The Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic is a popular annual event featuring hot air balloons.
  48. Ski Resorts: Idaho boasts numerous ski resorts, including Sun Valley, Bogus Basin, and Schweitzer Mountain.
  49. Idaho Potato Museum: Located in Blackfoot, this museum celebrates the history and significance of the potato in Idaho.
  50. Sockeye Salmon: Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains is named after the vibrant sockeye salmon that once spawned there.
  51. Idaho’s State Soil: Threebear soil, named after a researcher, is the state soil of Idaho.
  52. Sun Valley Symphony: The Sun Valley Summer Symphony is one of the largest privately funded symphonies in the United States.
  53. Bear Lake: Bear Lake, straddling the Idaho-Utah border, is known for its stunning turquoise waters.
  54. Idaho Birding Trail: The state offers numerous bird-watching opportunities along the Idaho Birding Trail.
  55. Idaho’s State Star: The “Idaho Star” is a celebrated potato-shaped star found in the Boise Basin.
  56. Craters of the Moon: This unique national monument showcases a lunar-like landscape created by volcanic activity.
  57. Idaho’s State Firearm: The Lewis and Clark Colt Revolver is the state firearm of Idaho.
  58. Idaho State Journal: The Pocatello-based newspaper serves southeastern Idaho.
  59. Outdoor Concerts: Idaho hosts various outdoor music festivals and concerts, including the Mountain Home Country Music Festival.
  60. Idaho Vandals: The University of Idaho‘s athletic teams are known as the Vandals.
  61. Gem State Iris: The wild syringa (Philadelphus lewisii) is also known as the “Gem State Iris.”
  62. Idaho’s State Candy: The Idaho Candy Company in Boise produces the state’s official candy, the Idaho Spud.
  63. Pioneer Historic Byway: This scenic byway takes travelers through historic sites in southeastern Idaho.
  64. Idaho’s State Soil: Threebear soil, named after a researcher, is the state soil of Idaho.
  65. Hagerman Valley: This fertile valley is known for its agricultural production and the Hagerman Fossil Beds.
  66. Idaho’s State Lizard: The collared lizard (Crotaphytus collaris) is the state lizard of Idaho.

Idaho’s diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and unique natural wonders make it a state of remarkable contrasts and endless exploration. From the rugged beauty of the Sawtooth Mountains to the serene waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene and the agricultural abundance of its fertile plains, Idaho offers a diverse array of experiences for residents and visitors alike. Its reputation as the “Gem State” not only reflects its geological treasures but also the gem-like qualities found in its people, who exhibit resilience, friendliness, and a love for the great outdoors.

Whether you’re skiing down the slopes of Sun Valley, exploring the lunar-like terrain of Craters of the Moon, or savoring a delicious Idaho potato, the state leaves an indelible mark on all who have the privilege of experiencing its wonders. Idaho’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty, promoting outdoor adventure, and embracing its cultural roots ensures that it will continue to be a cherished destination for those seeking the extraordinary in the heart of the American West.

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