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Facts about Idaho

As the 13th largest state in the U.S., Idaho produces 72 types of precious and semi-precious stones. Some of these stones can be found nowhere else in the world, which is why our great state is known as The Gem State. The Snake River in Hells Canyon is the deepest gorge in North America runs througout Idaho. The River of No Return the Salmon River also runs throughout Idaho.

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State Flag and Seal

A silk flag with a blue field, 5 feet 6 inches high, 4 feet 4 inches on pike is bordered by gilt fringe 2 1/2 inches wide, with the State Seal of Idaho in the center. The words "State of Idaho" are embroidered in gold block letters two inches high on a red band below the Great Seal. It was adopted by the 1907 legislature. The state seal was designed by Emma Edwards Green.

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Population: 1,567,582 (2010 Census)
Land Area: 83,557 square miles
Capital City: Boise
Date of Statehood: July 3rd, 1890
Highest Elevation: 12,662 ft. (Mt. Borah)
Lowest Elevation: 738 ft. (Lewiston, ID)
Water Area: 823 square miles
River Miles: 3,100 miles (more than any other state)

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State Flower: The Syringa (Philadelphus lewisii)

The syringa was designated the state flower of Idaho by the legislature in 1931. It is a branching shrub up to 12 feet tall with clusters of white, fragrant flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer. The blossoms are similar to the mock orange, have four petals, and the flowers grow at the ends of short, leafy branches

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State Tree: The Western White Pine (Pinus Monticola pinaceae)

Our state tree is probably most notable since the largest remaining stand of this timber in the United States grows in the northern part of Idaho. Tall and slender, the Western White Pine is native to forests of the Pacific Northwest from British Columbia to Montana and as far south as central California. It has blue-green needles, slender cones and can grow to 100 ft. It has many other fine qualities such as straight grain and soft, even texture. The Western White Pine was named Idaho’s state tree in 1935.

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State Bird: The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia arctcia)

The mountain bluebird was adopted as the state bird for Idaho by the state legislature in 1931. The Bluebird is about seven inches long, has an azure blue coat, and a blue vest with white under-feathers. The mother bird wears a quiet blue-gray dress and usually lays six or seven blue-white eggs. The Bluebird’s nest is usually built in a hollow tree or in a crevice. The Bluebird is very neat about its home and carries all refuse some distance from the nest

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State Horse: Appaloosa

The Appaloosa was the first horse breed to be acquired by the Nez Perce tribe around the 1700’s leading to the tribe developing into excellent horsemen and breeders. Settlers began to refer to their horses as “a Palouse horse” in reference to the Palouse River in north Central Idaho. The term evolved from that to “Palousey”, “Appalousey” and finally “Appaloosa”. An Appaloosa Horse Club was chartered in 1938 and has become one of the leading equine breed registries in the world. The Appaloosa was named Idaho’s state horse in 1975 because of its importance to Idaho history

State Fruit: Wild Huckleberry
Fish: Cutthroat Trout
Gem: Star Garnet
Dance: Square Dance
Motto: “Esto Perpetua” meaning “It is perpetual.”

Major Industries

Manufacturing, Health Care, Tourism, Agriculture,

Food Processing, Timber, Mining

12 Largest Cities (2010 Census)

1. Boise: 205,671
2. Nampa: 81,557
3. Meridian: 75,092
4. Idaho Falls: 56,813
5. Pocatello: 54,255
6. Caldwell: 46,237
7. Coeur d'Alene: 44,137
8. Twin Falls: 44,125
9. Lewiston: 31,894
10. Post Falls: 27,574
11. Rexburg: 25,484
12. Moscow: 23,800

Ask someone from another part of the country what pops into their mind when they think of Idaho, and you might get a blank stare or a one-word answer: potatoes.

Which may explain why Idaho is not on many travel bucket lists. Honey, forget Bora Bora; let’s go to a potato farm!

It doesn’t help that unlike most of its neighbors in the American West, Idaho lacks a defining feature. Idaho is the only Western state without a major national park. It can lay claim to a sliver of Yellowstone, but 96% of that park is in neighboring Wyoming.

Thanks to many Americans’ tenuous grasp of geography, Idaho also often gets confused with Iowa, 1,300 miles away in the Midwest.

But don’t let Idaho’s image problem discourage you from planning a visit. The spectacular scenery of this overlooked state can hold its own with anybody’s, and -- unlike in Yosemite or Zion -- you won’t have to elbow your way through crowds to see it.

For starters, Idaho contains the deepest river gorge in North America, the second-largest wilderness area in the Lower 48, more miles of rivers than any other state and a waterfall that’s 52 feet higher than Niagara. That would be Shoshone Falls east of the city of Twin Falls on the Snake River, which carves a smile across the arid southern third of the state.

Idaho also has a colorful history of stubborn individualism, from Ernest Hemingway to “Napoleon Dynamite.”

Hemingway, the state’s most celebrated resident, wrote part of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in Sun Valley. Daredevil Evel Knievel tried, and failed, in 1974 to leap across Snake River Canyon in a steam-powered rocket. And Napoleon rocked his geeky dance moves in the Mormon farming towns of the state’s southeast corner.

But the best reason to visit Idaho is the pristine beauty of its mountainous midsection and forested panhandle.

Start in the summertime in Boise – a handsome city with a compact, lively downtown – and drive northeast to Stanley, a frontier outpost in a gorgeous mountain valley flanked by the jagged Sawtooth Range and the middle fork of the Salmon River.

From there, you can hike to alpine lakes, cast for trout in meadow streams, raft down the Salmon or drive an hour south to the more refined resort-town charms of Ketchum and Sun Valley.

Or for a real adventure, pack a tent and head deeper into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, a vast swath of rugged forest that’s home to bears, moose, mountain lions and wolverines.

This, the heart of Idaho, is not for everyone. But if you want to lose yourself – find yourself? – in a rare expanse of unspoiled wilderness, it’s just the right place.