Idaho is known for its mountainous terrain, protected wilderness and outdoor recreation areas. Boise, the capital, is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and bordered by the Boise River, a popular rafting and fishing destination. A zoo, a rose garden, and museums are part of Julia Davis Park, a downtown green space.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT IDAHO
- Capital City: Boise
- Largest City: Boise
- Nickname: The Gem State
- Statehood: July 3, 1890; 43rd state
- Population (as of July 2020): 1,839,106
- Abbreviation: ID
- State bird: mountain bluebird
- State flower: syringa
- Total Size Of The State: 83,569 sq mi (216,443 km2)
Earlier this year, archaeologists made a massive discovery in Idaho: a rock blade. Why is this so significant? Researchers have discovered that the blade is more than 13,500 years old, suggesting that people have lived in the area for at least a few thousand years longer than previously thought. In addition, many Native American tribes lived on the land thousands of years after the blade’s makers lived, including the Nez Perce, Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai, Shoshone, Bannock, and Blackfeet.
Lewis and Clark, two American explorers, were the first non-natives to cross through this land in 1805. After that, the United States and Great Britain each claimed the region until 1846, when the two governments signed the Oregon Treaty, transferring ownership to America. Later, the land was included in the territory of Oregon and then in the territory of Washington. After gold was discovered there in 1860, thousands of settlers flooded in, and Idaho became a territory in 1863. Idaho became the 43rd state 17 years later, in 1890.
Idaho is still home to the Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Paiute, and Shoshone-Bannock tribes.
Why Does It Have That Name?
Initially, some people thought the name Idaho came from a Native American word that meant “gem of the mountains.” But it wasn’t a word.
Gem State might have gotten its name from the myth associated with the state. Star garnet (the state gem) is also mined in the state’s mountains.
Geographic Features and Landforms
There are three major geographic regions in Idaho. The Rocky Mountains dominate the state’s north and middle. At 12,662 feet, Borah Peak is the state’s highest point. However, it is also located in the narrow, northernmost part of the state, the “panhandle.” There are deep river canyons in this region, as well as glacial trenches. The most famous is Hells Canyon, America’s deepest Canyon. Hell’s Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon.
South of the state lies the Columbia Plateau. This area has a few mountains, and the terrain is almost entirely flat due to volcanic eruptions between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago.
It consists of valleys with grassy plateaus in southeast Idaho. Furthermore, it contains a fertile river basin and some high ridges.
The Natural World
Along with woodland caribou, Idaho is home to bighorn sheep, black bears, and bighorn sheep. In addition, smaller animals, such as the Idaho pocket gopher and the Idaho ground squirrel, can reproduce. Birds number more than 400 species. The region has yellow-billed cuckoos, great horned owls, downy woodpeckers, Lincoln’s sparrows, and bobolinks (small blackbirds).
Reptiles such as painted turtles, northern alligator lizards, and western terrestrial garter snakes crawl and slither through the state and amphibians such as Idaho giant salamanders, Coeur d’Alene salamanders, and tailed frogs.
Idaho has more than 230 species of trees; the tallest is a western white pine standing 219 feet tall — taller than Disney World’s castle! Other common Idaho trees include Douglas fir, western hemlock, ponderosa pine, and western red cedar. Colorful wildflowers in Idaho include Idaho trillium, pink fairies, orange daylilies, sticky purple geraniums, and crown vetch.
The state is filled with gems, even though its name comes from a fake word. 72 gems are produced in Idaho, including star garnets, amethysts, rubies, and diamonds. In addition to Silver, zinc, lead, and travertine, a type of marble, the state is known for mining.
Some Fun Facts About Idaho
- Visitors can get a tour of one of Idaho’s best-known crops at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot. A giant baked potato statue stands in front of the museum.
- Idaho’s famous potatoes are the inspiration for some unusual treats. Ice cream potatoes look like baked potatoes with sour cream because they are made with vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate and topped with whipped cream. “Idaho Spuds” are marshmallows covered in chocolate and coconut.
- In central Idaho, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve looks like a lunar landscape, but a massive, dried lava flow formed over thousands of years. In the last 2,000 years, the lava field has erupted eight times… and another eruption is due soon since this volcano is not dead but dormant.
- Lewis and Clark’s Native American guide Sacagawea was born in the present-day state of Idaho.
- Idaho and Montana share the Bitterroot National Forest.
- Almost the same way it looked more than a century ago, Silver City is a relic of gold mining days gone by. The mines produced at least $60 million worth of precious metals in 1860, but today it is a tourist destination. But, then, old-time miners slept in the same hotel where tourists can stay today.