Idaho is part of the Pacific Northwest. It’s one of the northernmost states in America, with a small border shared with Canada. It also shares a border with Oregon and in fact was a stop on the famous Oregon Trail that pioneers traveled to get to the West coast. In fact, originally, the state was considered part of the Oregon Country, as was Washington State. It was not until 1863 that these three areas became separate territories and it was not until 1890 that Idaho became the 43rd state to join the Union.
The state is so beautiful it has been named the “Gem State”. It’s one of the 10 least densely populated states in the country, with only 1.7 million people in an area of 83,570 square miles. The U.S. Forest Service controls over 38% of the land, the highest proportion of any state. This helps to keep Idaho’s natural areas pristine, making it attractive to outdoor enthusiasts.
Thanks to its size, there are several climactic regions in the state. It’s quite mountainous thanks to the Rocky Mountains, but also includes the Snake River Plain and the more isolated northern Panhandle. These different regions allow outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in a wide variety of sports, which is one reason tourism is a key industry, bringing $3 billion annually to the state.
Mining was also once a key industry. During the Gold Rush in the 19th century, gold, copper, silver and lead were found in Idaho. While some mining operations are still operating, others have shut down. Some former mining towns have been reborn as ski resorts. An example is the famous Sun Valley, which opened in 1936.
Other industries in the state include manufacturing, aerospace, agriculture, forestry, computer technology, and energy production.
For those who love nature, one of the key benefits to living in Idaho is the abundance of outdoor activities. Just look to Tamarack Resort to find winter and summer activities in the mountains. The state is a favorite destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking adventures. It’s also a sweet spot for those who love to ski or snowboard. In fact, Sun Valley is an official training site for the U.S. Olympic ski team.
These ski trails offer a different type of challenge in the summer, when mountain bikers flock to the slopes. The Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival is held each summer.
There are also numerous camp grounds with opportunities for hiking, fishing, and hunting in the wilderness. It’s no wonder that Idaho has some of the highest percentages of residents who participate in outdoor sports.
In addition to living in such a beautiful place, residents of Idaho enjoy low crime rates and a favorable climate for jobs. According to U.S. News, Idaho is number 5 in the nation when it comes to employment opportunities.
Idaho is also a great place for those who value education. It has a high school graduation rate of 84.7%, which puts it in the top third among American states, and has several fine universities and colleges. Recently, a direct enrollment program was started to help increase college attendance.
For those who appreciate culture, Idaho hosts several music festivals each yar. One of the most famous is the Treefort Music Festival which occurs over a 5 day period in Boise. Another is the Mountain Home Music Festival which focuses on country music, while the Gene Harris Jazz Festival appeals to jazz fans.
There are also an abundance of historical sites and museums throughout the state. Sports enthusiasts will find a number of golf courses and will enjoy the rivalry between the college football teams of Boise State and the University of Idaho.
Should you come for a visit to Idaho, one place you must visit is the state capital, Boise. Once a stop on the Oregon Trail, the city still maintains its historical charm. Its North End, filled with beautiful older homes, was named one of America’s 10 Great Neighborhoods in 2008 by the American Planning Association.
The arts scene here is surprisingly vibrant, with block long murals and Tony nominated plays as well as music festivals and one of the country’s best independent record stores. There are also tempting tastes from local craft beer to regional wine and boutique ice cream shops. Farm-to-table dining is taken seriously here and the local produce will tantalize your taste buds.
About an hour and a half north of Boise is the Tamarack Resort, which is also worth a visit as it provides a luxurious base from which you can try a variety of the sports that Idaho is famous for. In the summer it’s an ideal location for white water rafting and mountain biking while in the winter there are thousands of acres of trails for snowboarders and skiers.