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Idaho

Idaho

Great Destination:

4

Value for Money:

3.5

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

The more Venturesome your personality, the more you will like the state. Scores lower among all Centric types

Did You Know…?

  • Hells Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon; Shoshone Falls is taller than Niagara.
  • About two-thirds of Idaho’s land is owned by the federal government.
  • The world’s richest silver region, Silver Valley, produced 1.1 billion ounces in 120 years.
  • Idaho is not an Indian name; the word was almost certainly made up.
  • More than 6 million gallons of hot mineral water pour out of Lava Hot Springs daily.

’Taters grow here

It may seem trite to immediately reference Idaho’s well-known connection with potatoes, but that is a key part of the state’s image. Indeed, the lowly spud provides some entertainment and unusual food choices.

However, a more important consideration, when planning a vacation, is the fact that Idaho was made for lovers of the outdoors. It has it all: craggy mountains, rushing rivers, wildlife, awesome scenery and a varied climate. Its winters are cold, summers hot. The rivers are full of fish, the land is fertile, the game is abundant, the scenery’s terrific and people are few and friendly.

Idaho borrows a little from the Pacific Northwest and a little from the Rocky Mountain states to get its own distinct personality and look. It boasts millions of acres of protected natural areas and has more whitewater miles than any other state except Alaska. It also has more river miles (3,100) than any state including Alaska.

This primitive outdoors persona is balanced by Sun Valley, the area that probably draws the most tourists (and a few celebrities) — and is considered somewhat unreal by the people who live in Idaho. At Sun Valley, activities are still centered out of doors, but it is the place to find French pastries and chic shops in Idaho.

On the down-to-earth side, the state is best known as the place that gave its name to a potato and for good reason. The state produces about 28% of the nation’s potatoes, and — for the interested visitor — the spud is celebrated at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot. But this is not the Potato State; it is the Gem State because it produces 72 varieties of precious and semiprecious stones.

The state also has a history of interest to visitors, associated with Native Americans, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Oregon Trail and silver mines. The biggest city and Idaho’s capital Boise grew up near Fort Boise on the Oregon Trail. Crime is rare, murder is almost beyond belief, jackets and ties are required nowhere.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take a multiday trip kayaking or whitewater rafting; Idaho has more whitewater river miles than any other state in the lower 48. Choices include the Lochsa, Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Payette and the Snake rivers.
  • Camp out or rent a rustic cabin for a real get-away-from-it-all weekend in the 3 million-acre Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Take a guided tour of Minnetonka Cave while there — if you are in the right part of those 3 million acres.
  • Ride a mountain bike along the Route of Hiawatha Rail-Trail. The converted rail bed takes you through nine cavernous tunnels, over seven high trestles and past waterfalls and ridge-top vistas in the Bitterroot Mountains.
  • Go rock climbing in the suggestively named Rocks National Reserve, called one of the best granite-crag sites in the world.
  • Sign on for llama trekking or a horse pack trip.
  • Overnight in a real ghost town, Silver City, at the Idaho Hotel, which dates from 1863. The town, with only two businesses besides the hotel, has been without electricity since the 1940s. Explore the area on horseback.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Don a hard hat and join a tour, led by an experienced miner, into the Sierra Silver Mine in Wallace. Also, you can learn more at the Wallace District Mining Museum in town, not to mention at the Oasis Bordello Museum, also in Wallace. Attend homegrown theater in another former brothel, called the Sixth Street Melodrama. There were five brothels operating undisturbed in Wallace until 1973.
  • Ski at Sun Valley — or at any of a number of other resorts. In Ketchum, you can see the Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum.
  • Follow the Lander Trail, which was the first government-built wagon road in the West. It provided the cutoff from the Oregon Trail to the California gold fields. You will see parts of trail rutted by 19th century wagons and tree carvings left by the pioneers.
  • Visit the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot and taste potato fudge, or potato cookies, or even potato ice cream.
  • Go back to school at Pay Dirt Farm School operated by MaryJanesFarm in Moscow, which offers one-week farm apprenticeships with a goal of fostering the development of organic farmers and consumers.
  • Make your trip an Oregon Trail reenactment — sort of. Many Idaho outfitters offer wagon ride options.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Stay at a guest ranch. There are many to choose from.
  • Go where you can have a simulated wagon train experience, at the National Oregon/California Trail Center, located on the trail at Montpelier. The indoor interpretive activity relies on live actors who reenact aspects of wagon train life.
  • Soak in natural hot pools at Lava Hot Springs near Pocatello.
  • Attend an organ recital at the historic Paris Tabernacle in Paris, built by Mormon pioneers in 1889.
  • Tour the cool (50F) Shoshone Ice Caves near Shoshone. The caves are really a lava tube that is 1,000 feet long and varies from eight to 30 feet in height.
  • Participate in a trail ride or a dinner wagon ride in the mountains north of Ketchum.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Idaho Division of Tourism at www.visitidaho.org