86 Interesting & Fun Facts about Idaho

Are you ready to learn about a state famous for its mountains, rivers, and potatoes? Let’s zoom over to Idaho, a place where nature shows off its beauty in every corner. From skiing down snowy slopes to rafting in rushing rivers, Idaho is a playground for anyone who loves the outdoors. So, let’s put on our explorer caps and discover some fun facts about Idaho!

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First off, Idaho is known as the “Gem State.” You might think it’s because it’s such a treasure of a place, but it’s actually because you can find more different types of gemstones here than in any other state. Imagine stumbling upon a sparkling gem while hiking in the mountains!

And, of course, we can’t talk about Idaho without mentioning its potatoes. Idaho loves its potatoes so much that they are famous all over the world. These aren’t just any potatoes; they’re some of the yummiest you’ll ever taste. Idaho’s rich, volcanic soil makes them extra special and tasty.

But Idaho isn’t just about gems and potatoes. Did you know it’s also home to some of the most thrilling white-water rivers in the country? The Salmon River and the Snake River cut through the state, creating perfect spots for rafting and fishing adventures. Plus, there’s a part of Idaho where you can stand in one spot and be in two time zones at once – how cool is that?

Are you excited to learn more facts about Idaho? From its dazzling gems and delicious potatoes to its wild rivers and cool time zone tricks, Idaho is full of surprises. Let’s keep exploring and find out all the amazing things that make Idaho a fantastic place to visit and learn about!

 Be sure to discover even more interesting facts with our Facts about Massachusetts and our Facts about Kentucky.

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Facts about Idaho

  1. Women should be pretty proud of Idaho as it is the only state seal in the United States that was designed by a woman. The woman was Emma Edwards Green, and her design was chosen in 1891.
  2. Idaho has more whitewater river miles than any other state.
  3. Idaho is nicknamed “The Gem State” because almost every known type of gemstone has been found in the state, including the largest diamond discovered in the United States. 
  4. More than 72 gemstones are mined from Idaho.  
  5. Idaho is also home to the Spud Drive-In Giant Potato, where you can go to the movies and pose with a giant (fake) potato. 
  6. The region of Idaho has been inhabited for at least 15,000 years! 
  7. Idaho even has a potato museum that features the world’s largest potato chip and the world’s largest Styrofoam potato.
  8.  Idaho has come up with some odd potato-themed treats like “ice cream potatoes,” made with vanilla ice cream, cocoa, and whipped cream. They are meant to look like baked potatoes topped with sour cream.
  9.  If you live in Pocatello, Idaho and you’re in a bad mood you might want to stay at home.
  10. By law, you are required to smile in public there, as public displays of frowns, scowls, grimaces, or other gloomy facial expressions may reflect badly on the reputation of the city.
  11. The Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-1) in the desert of Idaho was the world’s first nuclear power plant. A sign in nearby Arco marks the first time a city was powered by atomic energy. There is also an Atomic City in the area, current population: 41.
  12. Idaho’s highest point is located in eastern Custer County, at the Lost River Range. Borah Peak has an elevation of 12,662 ft (3859 m), while the lowest point is where the Snake River joins the Clearwater River, near Lewiston. This point has an elevation of 710 ft (216 m).
  13. At the Dog Bark Park Inn in Idaho, guests can stay in a beagle-shaped house. It is the largest beagle in the world.
  14. The official state gem is the Star Garnet, which can only be found in two places in the world: Idaho and India. The gems got their name because their stone causes a reflection that gives them the appearance of a 4- or 6-pointed star.
  15. Boise has one of the largest Basque communities (a people from Basque Country in Spain and Southwest France) in the country.
  16. Moscow the Green City: with more than 27 sq. meters of parks per individual, Moscow can be compared to other green cities of the world like Paris and New York. There are 18 gardens, 96 parks, 4 botanical centers, and a zoo with over 6,500 specimens.
  17. Idaho is known for its heavy wine consumption.
  18. In terms of size, Idaho is twice as large as Guatemala or three times as large as Ireland.
  19. The state bird of Idaho is the mountain bluebird, which can be spotted on many of the famous hiking trails in the state.
  20. Hells Canyon, formed by the Snake River on the border between Idaho and Oregon, is North America’s deepest canyon, at 7993 ft (2436 m), deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
  21. Angelyne, a blonde, large-busted pop culture icon that appeared on billboards in Hollywood in the 80s, often in a pink Corvette, was from Idaho.
  22. In 1860, pioneers who were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founded Franklin, the first permanent European settlement in Idaho, though it was probably in Utah at that time.
  23. In 2009, over 1.5 million acres of land in Idaho were damaged by wildfires. In fact, Idaho had more wildfires burning than any of the other 49 states.
  24. The state produces 1/3 of all the potatoes grown in the United States. That’s about 27 billion potatoes each year!
  25. Idaho produces other crops besides potatoes. The state is actually known as the Lentil capital of the world. It is also known for having one of the largest hops farms in the United States.
  26. The majority of the country’s trout is also supplied by Idaho.
  27. Idaho is home to the largest potato in the world.
  28. In Idaho, it is against the law for a man to give his beloved a box of sweets that weighs more than 50 pounds.
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  1. The United States Forest Service holds about 38% of Idaho’s land, the highest proportion of any state.
  2. Heaven’s Gate Lookout, in Idaho, is a location where you can see Washington, Montana, and even Oregon.
  3. Someone paid $600,000 for a bull from Idaho. This was the most expensive bull ever sold. The cost was high because the Hereford bull weighed 1,410, and its lineage was impeccable.
  4. Idaho is home to the Niagara of the West. Yes, those who want to experience something like Niagara Falls could check out Shoshone Falls with its 212-foot drop.
  5. The word “potato” was first used in the state’s license plate back in 1928, and the state has not looked back since.
  6. This region is home to the Treefort Music Fest, which is held in Boise. It is perhaps one of the most successful modern country music festivals in America.
  7. Idaho has a land area of 83,569 mi² (216,443 km²), making it the 14th largest state in the nation, putting it between Utah and Kansas in size.
  8. The Idaho State Capitol building is the only one in the US to be heated by geothermal energy, which comes from underground hot springs.
  9. Wallace, a town in Idaho, was declared the “Center of the Universe” by mayor Wallace. A manhole cover stating this declaration was created in 2004.
  10. Idaho’s Shoshone Falls has been called the “Niagara Falls of the West”. It is 14 m (45 ft) taller than the actual Niagara Falls in New York State and Ontario.
  11. In Idaho, Finger Steaks, Idaho Ice Cream Potatoes, and Idahoan are brands of mashed potatoes.
  12. The Owyhee Daily Avalanche was the first daily newspaper to be published in the state on October 17, 1874, in Silver City.
  13. Idaho’s first telephone service commenced on October 1, 1883 in Hailey.
  14. In 2003, a legislative session in Idaho lasted 118 days, the longest legislative session to be held in history at the time. In 2021, it passed its own record, with a 311-day session.
  15. The appaloosa horse is the state animal of Idaho. 
  16. The appaloosa was a breed of horse that was originally brought over by the Spanish. The horse was embraced by the Nez Perce tribe and as a result, became heavily entwined in the area’s culture.
  17. Idaho Falls attributes its name to a waterfall along the Snake River, a key feature of agriculture in the state of Idaho. 
  18. Evil Knievel tried to jump over the Twin Falls in 1974. He failed, but those interested in seeing the failed jump can check out the Twin Falls.
  19. A gargantuan tree can be found at The Elk River. It is called the Idaho Champion Western Red Cedar Tree. It has an 18-feet diameter and it’s over 170 feet tall.
  20. Idaho’s State Penitentiary is known as a haunted location. Talk about a double-whammy for those who might commit a crime.
  21. The canyon is called Hells Canyon, and it’s 7,900 feet deep. This is deeper than the Grand Canyon. 
  22. High above the Hell Canyon is Heaven’s Gate Lookout where you can gaze at the entire state of Idaho plus the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana.
  23. The state grows nearly one-third of America’s potatoes. It is likely that the people living outside the state eat more of these starchy vegetables than the people in Idaho.
  24. The state’s name derived from a Native American word that means “the land of many waters.” The pronunciation is similar to the state’s name.
  25. The Lake Coeur d’Alene boardwalk is 3,300 feet long and is known as the longest boardwalk in the world. This is definitely for all those who love to walk by the beach.
  26.  Idaho may be known for potatoes, but it should be known for its trout, too. It is estimated that 85 percent of all the commercial trout sold in America comes from Hagerman Valley.
  27. One of the most celebrated winter celebrations called the Winter Carnival in McCall began in 1924. It actually started because the locals were bored.
  28. Boise is the most populous city and as the state capital of Idaho. The Boise Metropolitan Area, which includes the state’s 2nd and 3rd largest cities (Nampa and Meridian), has a population of 800,000, making it the 75th largest city in the US.
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  1. Another state nickname is “The Potato State”. One-third of the nation’s potatoes are grown there, more than any other state, adding up to approximately 27 billion potatoes each year.
  2. The state is home to several volcanoes, lava fields, and other volcanic features, including Cerro Grande, Craters of the Moon, North and South Robbers, Hell’s Half Acre, Kings Bowl, Shoshone Lava Fields, and Wapi Lava Field.
  3. J. R. Simplot became one of richest people in the US after his Idaho-based company invented ways to dry potatoes and other vegetables and sell them to the US Army.
  4. Idaho has several militia groups operating in the Idaho Panhandle, including the 600-member nationalist Idaho Light Foot Militia, who describe themselves as the “teeth of the constitution.”
  5. On July 3, 1890, Idaho became the 43rd state of the US.
  6. In the 1992 Ruby Ridge Standoff near Naples, Idaho, there was an 11-day standoff between police and white separatist Randy Weaver. His wife and son were killed by the police, but he survived the incident, and his family received over 3 million dollars in compensation.
  7. There’s a whole museum dedicated to potatoes in Blackfoot, Idaho.
  8. Idaho does have one National Reserve (City of Rocks, famous for its granite rock formations), two National Monuments (Craters of the Moon, with its lava formations, and Hagerman Fossil Beds, known for its ancient horse fossils).
  9. Albertsons, the second-largest supermarket chain in the US after Kroger, was established in Boise, Idaho in 1939.
  10. Idaho limits public displays of affection to under 18 minutes.
  11. Permanent sales tax was implemented in 1987, at 5%.
  12. A person cannot sweep dirt from his or her house into the street. This is a law in Eagle, Idaho where cleanliness is definitely valued by the people in the city.
  13. “The Gem State” is another one of Idaho’s nicknames- as nearly every known type of gemstone has been found there, with over 70 of them being actively mined.
  14. The name “Idaho” was almost used for Colorado. The person who originally chose the name falsely claimed it was a Native American word, so the Senate rejected it. The name stuck around though, and was eventually used for Idaho.
  15. In 1964, Bible reading was ended in Boise public schools by the Federal Court.
  16. The official abbreviation for Idaho is ID.
  17. Idaho is the state with the most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after Utah. The Idaho Falls Temple was the first temple in Idaho, and the church’s first one with a modern spiral design.
  18. This state is home to Atomic City, which was booming when the National Reactor Testing Station was active in the 70s. It is a desolate area with around 29 people now.
  19. It is illegal for a person to fish while they are riding the back of a camel. Take that camel-riding fisherman.
  20. There are two time zones in Idaho, the Mountain Time Zone and the Pacific Time Zone. 
  21. Idaho imports most of the energy it consumes.
  22. Idaho City can thank gold for its success. Yes, the city’s economy boomed because of gold mining back in the 1860s.
  23. There is a ski resort in McCall, Idaho that is home to the Brundage Bra Tree. The name is known throughout Idaho because it is where many women throw their bras as they ride a chairlift.
  24. 13 is a very special number for this state. It is special because it is the 13th largest state (in terms of land area) in America.
  25. Around 1% of Yellowstone National Park is located in Idaho. Another 3% is in Montana and 96% is in Wyoming. There are no other national parks in Idaho, but there are 27 state parks.
  26. According to Idaho Code 18-6401, it is prohibited to operate or participate in any amusement ride on Sundays, except for those approved by the county commissioners.
  27. According to Idaho Falls city code, motorcycle operators must be under 88 years old. This ordinance was enacted in 2017 to promote road safety and reduce accidents.
  28. This state offers the longest gondola ride in the world, so strap in and enjoy nature from above. The gondola is in the Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg.
  29. One candy company in Idaho also makes the “Idaho Spud,” a marshmallow covered with chocolate and coconut.

Do you have even more interesting facts about Idaho? Share them with us in the comments!

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