50 Interesting & Fun Facts About Idaho State You Should Know

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A skyline of tall skyscrapers and a capitol building overlooking green trees
One of the facts about Idaho state is that it is known as the "Gem State"

Idaho is a funny-shaped state in the Western part of the United States. You may not know much about it other than that it is popular for growing potatoes, but there are actually a lot of interesting things to learn about Idaho. So what is Idaho known for?

Idaho is known for its rare star garnets, 4.7 million acres of wilderness, and more than 107,000 miles of rivers. There is also an almost perfect ratio of one woman for every one man, and some claim Idaho natives have a "neutral" accent.

Some other interesting and fun facts about Idaho state include that it has the only state seal designed by a woman, and it is called the "Gem State." Keep reading for even more fun facts about the state that you won't believe!

  • 50 Idaho facts

50 Idaho State Facts

  1. Idaho Fun Facts
    1. Idaho is the 13th largest state in the country by area
    2. Borah Peak is the highest point in Idaho
    3. Idaho is called the Gem State
    4. Hells Canyon in Idaho is deeper than the Grand Canyon
    5. From Heaven's Gate Lookout, you can see four states
    6. Shoshone Falls is a 212-foot waterfall
    7. The state capitol building is warmed with renewable energy
    8. Sun Valley Resort was the first destination ski resort in the US
    9. Idaho is larger in size than New England
    10. Idaho is home to the longest floating boardwalk in the world
  2. Interesting Facts About Idaho
    1. The biggest sand dune in the US is in Bruneau Dunes State Park
    2. Idaho has more than 4.7 million acres of wilderness
    3. Idaho has a neutral dialect
    4. It is said that the Nez Perce Tribe was the first to breed horses for certain traits
    5. Idaho has more than 107,000 miles of rivers
    6. Seventy percent of the trout sold in the US is from Idaho
    7. Part of the Rocky Mountains are in Idaho
    8. Idaho grows famous potatoes
    9. The Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve is a dried lava flow
    10. The state tree of Idaho is the Western White Pine
  3. Funny Facts About Idaho
    1. The Dog Bark Park Inn is the world's largest beagle
    2. In Idaho, you can eat an ice cream potato
    3. The movie Napoleon Dynamite was filmed in Idaho
    4. There is a ski resort in Idaho that is home to the Brundage Bra Tree
    5. The Smurf Turf is in Idaho
  4. Weird Facts About Idaho
    1. Idaho has a potato museum
    2. Idaho has a funny shape with a panhandle
    3. The longest straw bale maze in the world was in Idaho
    4. The largest potato chip is in Idaho
    5. Idaho has an almost perfect ratio of one man to one woman
  5. Cool Facts About Idaho
    1. Sixty-three percent of Idaho is public land
    2. The largest hops farm in the world is in Idaho
    3. Joe River in Idaho is the highest navigable river in the world
    4. Idaho has rare star garnets
    5. Idaho grows a significant amount of the United State's lentils
  6. Random Facts About Idaho
    1. Evil Knievel tried jumping Twin Falls
    2. The longest gondola ride in North America is in Idaho
    3. Ernest Hemmingway is buried in Ketchum Cemetery
    4. The Snake River Plain was formed by a volcanic hot spot
    5. The Idaho state insect is the Monarch Butterfly
  7. Historical Facts About Idaho
    1. The Idaho state seal was designed during a contest in 1890
    2. The name Idaho does not come from a Native American word
    3. Idaho became the 43rd US state in 1890
    4. Sacagawea was born in Idaho
    5. The state motto of Idaho is "Esto Perpetua"
  8. Important Facts About Idaho
    1. The state fruit of Idaho is the huckleberry
    2. The Syringa is the Idaho state flower
    3. The official state horse is the Appaloosa
    4. Boise is the capital of Idaho
    5. The Mountain Bluebird is the official bird of the state of Idaho

Show all

Idaho Fun Facts

Aerial of a capitol building with a dome against tall buildings surrounded by trees
The city of Boise is a beautiful place to visit and tour

Let's start off with some fun facts of Idaho!

Idaho is the 13th largest state in the country by area

Idaho is 83,569 square miles in size. A few thousand square miles of this land are wilderness that has not been inhabited or built on and does not even have any roads.

Borah Peak is the highest point in Idaho

The peak is part of the Lost River Ranger District, which is part of the National Forest Service. It reaches an elevation of 12,662 feet, making it the highest in the state.

Idaho is called the Gem State

This name comes from the more than 72 gems that can be found in Idaho. It has the largest variety of gems of any of the states in the US. The official state gem is the Idaho Star Garnet.

A river winding through a rugged brown canyon under a partly cloudy sky
Hells Canyon was originally called the Snake River Canyon before the 1930s

Hells Canyon in Idaho is deeper than the Grand Canyon

It is over 7,900 feet deep, which beats the 6,001-foot depth of the Grand Canyon. It is also the deepest river gorge in North America. It was originally called the Snake River Canyon but was first called Hells Canyon in the 1895 book McCurdy's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. The name was later popularized by its use in books and publications by a 1930s senator and has been used ever since.

Aerial view of the top of a mountain under a cloudy sky
The distance to the top of the Heaven's Gate lookout point is almost 19 miles

From Heaven's Gate Lookout, you can see four states

On a clear day, you can see Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana from the lookout point. You can also see the Seven Devils Mountains and Hells Canyon. The drive to the top of the lookout point is 19 miles long.

Aerial of a wide waterfall beside thinner cascading waterfalls from a rugged cliff
Shoshone Falls, a 212-foot waterfall, is also known as the "Niagara of the west"

Shoshone Falls is a 212-foot waterfall

It is referred to as the "Niagara of the west" since it is such a large natural attraction, even bigger than Niagara Falls itself. The waterfall is in the town of Twin Falls, Idaho, and it flows into the Snake River.

The flow of Shoshone Falls can vary depending on the amount of rain and snow. As the snow melts at the end of winter and into spring, the falls reach their peak flow, sometimes as high as 20,000 cubic feet per second.

A neoclassical capitol building with a dome facing a road, under a partly cloudy sky
The only capitol building in the US warmed with renewable energy is in Idaho

The state capitol building is warmed with renewable energy

It is the only US state capitol building to be warmed this way. It is heated by geothermal water that comes from 3,000 feet underground. From the ground up, the building is 208 feet high, and it cost $2.1 million dollars to build between 1905 and 1920.

A descending snowy slope surrounded by green pine trees under a partly cloudy sky
America's first destination ski resort was found and built by Count Felix Schaffgosch

Sun Valley Resort was the first destination ski resort in the US

Count Felix Schaffgosch was hired to find a place to build a ski resort. When he saw how beautiful the town of Ketchum, Idaho, was, he decided it would be the perfect place.

Before he opened the resort, little was known about the town, and only 100 people lived there. One year later, people were coming to the town to see it, and "America's First Destination Ski Resort" was born, bringing new life to the town.

Idaho is larger in size than New England

New England, which is made up of six states (Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine), is 72,000 square miles in size. Idaho is over 11,000 square miles larger than the size of all six states combined.

fblanco7305/Depositphotos.com
A boardwalk over water with a white boat moored on it under a somewhat cloudy sky
A walk down the boardwalk at Coeur d'Alene Resort and back is 1.25 miles long

Idaho is home to the longest floating boardwalk in the world

It is at the Coeur d'Alene Resort, and it is 3,300 feet long. That is five-eighths of a mile long, and it is free to take a walk along it. The walk gives you 360-degree views of the lake, and a walk down the boardwalk and back is 1.25 miles long.

Interesting Facts About Idaho

A gray mountain with patches of snow, overlooking green grass with a wooden fence
The Rocky Mountains are located in multiple states, including Idaho

There are also a lot of interesting facts on Idaho.

Red sand dune under a blue sky with white clouds
Bruneau Dunes State Park has a sand dune that is 470 feet tall

The biggest sand dune in the US is in Bruneau Dunes State Park

The single-structured sand dune is 470 feet tall, and a lot of the other dunes in the park are quite tall too.

A dirt road leading into a wooded valley with mountains in the background
Idaho state has over 4.7 million acres of wilderness

Idaho has more than 4.7 million acres of wilderness

The wilderness is protected by the government and cannot be developed or otherwise changed. This wilderness designation protects the natural environment and the wildlife that lives there. The largest wilderness area in Idaho is the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness, which covers over 2.35 million acres.

Idaho has a neutral dialect

Native Idahoans do not have any sort of accent based on a study of how people talk across the country. Of all the states, they had the most average pronunciation of words and therefore have the most neutral accent of all 50 states.

It is said that the Nez Perce Tribe was the first to breed horses for certain traits

They selectively bred horses to develop traits like speed, intelligence, and endurance. The bred horses were more skilled and valuable than the horses that were not bred.

A blue reflective river meandering through a rugged canyon under a clear blue sky
The Snake River, the longest in Idaho, is almost 1,078 miles long

Idaho has more than 107,000 miles of rivers

Eight hundred ninety-one of these miles are designated wild and scenic rivers. The longest river is the Snake river which is 1,078 miles long.

Seventy percent of the trout sold in the US is from Idaho

The state produces the most trout of any state, with a production of around 41 million pounds of trout every year. The trout are farm-raised, and trout is a large part of Idaho's commercial farming industry.

A snow-capped mountain range overlooking alpine trees and green grass
Idaho is home to the Sawtooth Mountain Range, which is part of the Rocky Mountains

Part of the Rocky Mountains are in Idaho

The Rocky Mountains are split into four sections: Northern, Middle, Southern, and the Wyoming Basin. Both the northern and the middle sections of the mountain range go into Idaho. The biggest part of the Rockies in Idaho is the northern section of the mountains, found in the north-central part of the state.

Idaho grows famous potatoes

Idaho is home to famous, delicious potatoes, thanks to the growing conditions in the state. The soil, water, air, and climate are perfect, which is why Idaho produces so many potatoes. The potato is also the official state vegetable of Idaho.

A pathway winding through cinder cones against brown mountains under a clear sky
Craters of the Moon National Preserve has islands of cinder cones and much more

The Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve is a dried lava flow

As the name suggests, you feel like you are on the moon when you visit here. Throughout the park are lava flows, islands of cinder cones, and sagebrush.

The state tree of Idaho is the Western White Pine

The largest concentration of this tree in the United States is in Idaho. It can grow to be as tall as 175 feet, with a diameter between five and eight feet. Today, the tallest Western White Pine is 219 feet tall, and it grows near the town of Elk River.

Funny Facts About Idaho

Baiterek_Media/Depositphotos.com
Tall concrete building beside other buildings against a mountain at the far back
Boise, Idaho is where you can try an ice cream potato

There is also some funny information on Idaho that you will enjoy.

The Dog Bark Park Inn is the world's largest beagle

The inn is shaped like a beagle, and guests can stay overnight inside the dog. The dog has a second-story deck from which guests can enter. The sleeping space is inside the head of the dog.

In Idaho, you can eat an ice cream potato

The name of this dessert comes from its appearance, as it looks like a loaded baked potato. But, it is actually vanilla ice cream shaped like a baked potato and then topped with cocoa powder to look like the skin. Then, the toppings like whipped cream and chocolate shavings look like the toppings you would commonly see on a loaded baked potato.

The movie Napoleon Dynamite was filmed in Idaho

More specifically, it was filmed in Preston, Idaho, which is where the two creators of the movie are from. One of the most recognizable spots from the city is the high school which was used in the movie. The movie put the town on the map and led to people visiting just to see the locations used in the movie.

There is a ski resort in Idaho that is home to the Brundage Bra Tree

The tree is at the Brundage Mountain Ski Resort in McCall, ID, and people pass it when they ride up the ski lift. It is unsure how the tradition started, but it is still a tradition today for women to throw bras at the tree as they pass it.

C5Media/Depositphotos.com
A stadium with a blue billboard of "Albertsons Stadium" and "Home of Broncos"
Albertsons Stadium is where the first non-green turf was installed in 1986

The Smurf Turf is in Idaho

The Smurf Turf is the first blue turf and the first non-green turf used on a football field. It is at Boise State, and it was the only school with a non-green field for more than 20 years. It was installed in 1986 in Bronco Stadium, which is now Albertsons Stadium.

Weird Facts About Idaho

knowlesgallery/Depositphotos.com
A road between trees leading to a skyline against a mountain
50.1% of the population in Idaho is male and 49.9% is female

This section has some weird and unusual facts about Idaho.

MichaelVi/Depositphotos.com
Looking at a sign of "Idaho Potato Museum" with a potato against a brick house
The Idaho Potato Museum was opened in 1988 in Blackfoot, Idaho

Idaho has a potato museum

The museum in Blackfoot, Idaho, opened in 1988 with the goal of educating people about the Idaho potato. The museum is in the old Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot. It has everything from the history of the potato to the evolution of the potato industry over time.

Idaho has a funny shape with a panhandle

The western border of the state follows the 117th Meridian line. The few areas where it is not a straight border are because Oregon and Washington were already established and kept their land.

Idaho used to be bigger, but it lost some of its land to the east when Montana was established. The border between Idaho and Montana is along the Bitterroot Mountains, which is why Idaho has a unique shape.

The longest straw bale maze in the world was in Idaho

The temporary maze measured 96,847 square feet and was eight times the size required by Guinness World Records to be considered a new record. There were 3,202 bales of straw that made up the maze, and each bale weighed around 1,100 pounds. The maze itself was 1.6 miles long.

The largest potato chip is in Idaho

It is on display at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID. It is a Pringle chip, and it was made in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1990. It measures 23 inches by 14.5 inches.

Idaho has an almost perfect ratio of one man to one woman

It is one of two states with a very close ratio, the other being Washington. There are slightly more men in Idaho, with 50.1% of the population. That leaves a 49.9% female population. So, for every 1,000 people, there are only two more men than women.

Cool Facts About Idaho

A pedestrian street with chairs under patio umbrellas against tall glass buildings
One of the largest public land-holding states is Idaho, with 65% public land

Here are some more cool and fun Idaho facts.

Sixty-three percent of Idaho is public land

This land is managed by the federal government, and Idaho is one of the largest public land-holding states in the US. There are different agencies that manage it depending on the land, like the Department of Agriculture, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.

The largest hops farm in the world is in Idaho

It is 1,700 acres big, and farmers here have been growing hops for over three decades. They grow hops for Anheuser-Busch Brewing, and there are more than 50 varieties grown at the farm. The climate in this area is good for growing hops as long as there is not too much rain or mud.

Joe River in Idaho is the highest navigable river in the world

It is navigable since it is wide enough and deep enough for a boat to pass through it. It is the highest such river in the world at an elevation of 2,129 feet.

Idaho has rare star garnets

These garnets are only found in two places in the world: India and Idaho. They get their name from their reflection, which looks like a star.

There is a special place called the Emerald Creek Garnet Area where you can collect these gems without hurting the environment. Digging for them is not allowed as it affects the water quality, aquatic life, and public safety.

Idaho grows a significant amount of the United State's lentils

The Palouse region of the US grows 90% of all the country's lentils, and it is made up of parts of Washington state and Idaho. Idaho is the fourth largest producer of lentils and dry peas in the United States.

Random Facts About Idaho

One of the facts about Idaho state is Evil Knievel's attempt to jump over a canyon
In 1974, Evil Knievel tried to jump over the Twin Falls canyon

There is also some random Idaho information that I've listed in this section.

Evil Knievel tried jumping Twin Falls

Motorcycle daredevil Evil Knievel attempted to make the .25-mile jump over the 500-foot-deep canyon in September 1974. He tried the jump on a steam-powered skycycle. He was unable to make the jump, but he survived and only broke his nose.

The longest gondola ride in North America is in Idaho

The gondola ride is at Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg, Idaho. Its course is 3.1 miles long, and you start in Kellogg before heading up to the Mountain House. At the top are biking and hiking trails, panoramic views, and food, which is part of what makes it such a popular attraction.

Ernest Hemmingway is buried in Ketchum Cemetery

He is buried in a simple grave in Sun Valley, Idaho. He took his own life in 1961, as did his father, brother, and sister before him. The town is where he was living at the time, so it was easiest to leave his remains in the town's cemetery.

The Snake River Plain was formed by a volcanic hot spot

The hot spot is in the Earth's crust, and these hot spots are what make the geysers in the area explode. There is dark lava that flows across the plains, and there are also volcanic buttes in the area that give evidence of the hot spot under the plain.

The Idaho state insect is the Monarch Butterfly

The name of the butterfly comes from early settlers who named it after King Willam, who was the Prince of Orange. It is a fitting name since the butterflies are orange.

Historical Facts About Idaho

A road between green grass, leading to a neoclassical capitol building
In 1890, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Territorial Act making Idaho a state

There is a lot of history in Idaho, so I had to include these Idaho facts and history.

The Idaho state seal was designed during a contest in 1890

It is the only state seal designed by a woman, and the design she submitted to the contest won unanimously. The seal is on the state flag and is used on official government documents and properties all over the state.

The name Idaho does not come from a Native American word

This "fact" about Idaho is a myth, and the name Idaho was actually made up. Similar to how many states are named, the people of Idaho wanted a Native American name for their state. So, the man who came up with the name said it was a Native American name meaning "gem of the mountains". Many people still believe the word means that today.

Idaho became the 43rd US state in 1890

It first became a territory on March 4th, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Territorial Act. Then, it became a state on July 3rd, 1890, when President Benjamin Harrison signed it into the country.

Sacagawea was born in Idaho

Not too much is known about this explorer, but she was born in 1788 or 1789 into the Shoshone tribe. She was born and raised in the Salmon River region, which is now in Idaho. She is an important figure in history because she explored with Lewis and Clark from 1804 to 1806.

The state motto of Idaho is "Esto Perpetua"

The motto translates to "It is perpetuated" or "May it endure forever." The motto is on the Idaho state seal.

Important Facts About Idaho

A male mountain bluebird on a twig
The Mountain Bluebird became the official state bird of Idaho in 1931

Finally, there are some important little-known facts about Idaho.

The state fruit of Idaho is the huckleberry

There are many varieties of huckleberries that are native to Idaho, but the most common is the black, thin-leaved huckleberry. Many of the state's bears eat huckleberries, but the fruit tree takes up to 15 years to grow fully. Huckleberries grow in elevations between 2,000 and 11,000 feet.

The Syringa is the Idaho state flower

It was designated as the state flower in 1931, and its formal name is the Philadelphus lewisii, after Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark. He wrote about the flower in his journal as he journeyed through the land. The plant has clusters of white flowers and grows to be between three and ten feet tall.

The official state horse is the Appaloosa

While Idaho does not have a state mammal as many states do, they have the Appaloosa horses as one of their animal symbols. The horses were bred by Native American tribes, and each Appaloosa horse has a distinct coat.

knowlesgallery/Depositphotos.com
Aerial of a city with tall buildings against mountains under a partly cloudy sky
Boise has a population of more than 237,000 people

Boise is the capital of Idaho

It is in the southwest corner of the state and has a population of just over 237 thousand people. The city is significantly bigger than the second largest city, which is Meridian, with a population of 126,000 people.

A small mountain bluebird on a plant
The official name of the state bird of Idaho is "Sialia Currucoides"

The Mountain Bluebird is the official bird of the state of Idaho

It became the state bird in 1931, and its official name is the "Sialia Currucoides." These birds live in grasslands and in trees. They are easy to spot when they are flying since they fly in a zig-zag pattern.

Conclusion

Idaho is well known for its potatoes, and it is home to the ice cream potato and the world's largest potato chip. You will also find a dog-shaped inn, a tree covered in bras, and a blue football field. All of these fun Idaho facts make the state what it is today.

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Sarah Hartness

Sarah_Hartness WRITER I am a Chicago-based travel writer who loves to explore the Midwest and beyond. I have traveled all over the US and Europe. I look forward to going to Latin America and Asia next!


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