Let’s play a game. You are going to go on a summer vacation. Your goal is to experience the American West. You want to visit a national park and stay at a dude ranch as well. What States come to mind for this kind of vacation? If you are like most people, you said Montana, Wyoming or Colorado. It is true that these states have some fabulous western vacation destinations, but you missed possibly the most underappreciated state in the West; Idaho! Yes, Idaho. An Idaho vacation isn’t usually the first thing many people think of when they want to explore the West, go to national parks, or go to a dude ranch but I hope to change minds and sway perceptions in favor of Idaho.
What are people saying about Idaho?
In their article, “10 Hottest Travel Destinations of 2017”, Vogue says, “Idaho is having a moment” and they placed Idaho 7th on the list of places to travel in 2017. Fodor’s Travel captured Idaho’s underappreciated status well in their article, “4 Reasons to Visit Idaho Now”:
“Potatoes and skiing summarize the majority of America’s perception of Idaho’s attributes. Although frequently confused with residents of pancake-flat Iowa, located two doors down in the Midwest, Idahoans take no offense to the error—they actually prefer the anonymity, as it keeps the population and prices down and enables a manageable flow of tourism through their unspoiled state. These same reasons, however, make Idaho a vacationer’s paradise: light crowds, fair prices, easy access to the state’s best sites, and a burgeoning wine scene all add to the state’s allure.”
And finally, Oars.com, a worldwide river guide service, says, “When’s the last time you were thinking about taking a trip to Idaho? Exactly. You weren’t. But we’re going to let you in on a little secret. Idaho has got it all, and we think it’s one of the most underrated places in the U.S. for adventure travel.” But they don’t stop there. They go on to say, “Imagine yourself in some of the best and most pristine wilderness that still exists today. Idaho is wild, untamed and rugged. It’s that little piece of outdoors that’s been untouched and left for us to experience in all of its glory. And isn’t that what we’re all trying to find?”
Let’s look at the facts.
The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is the largest in the lower 48 states with 2.3 million acres of back country.
Shoshone Falls (212 feet), near Twin Falls, drops 52 feet further than Niagara Falls.
Idaho has 3,100 miles of rivers which is more than any other state.
Idaho's Salmon River near Riggins is the longest free-flowing river that heads and flows within a single state.
63% of Idaho is public land.
Lake Pend Oreille is the largest lake in Idaho at 43 miles long, and 1,150 feet deep. It is the 5th deepest lake in the United States.
Elk River is the home of the Idaho Champion Western Red Cedar Tree, the largest tree in the state. Estimated to be over 3000 years old this giant is more than 18 feet in diameter and stands 177 feet tall.
Bruneau Dunes State Park contains North America's tallest single structured sand dune. It stands 470 feet high.
At 7,993 feet deep, Hells Canyon in western Idaho is the deepest river gorge in North America. In comparison, the Grand Canyon is only 6,000 feet deep.
The total length of Idaho's rivers and waterways (over 107,000 miles) could stretch across the US thirty-eight times.
The Lewis & Clark Highway (United State Highway 12) is the shortest route from the midwest to the Pacific Coast and the longest highway within a national forest in the nation.
Idaho is bordered by Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Canada.
If all the lower 48 states were ironed out flat, Idaho would be the largest; its rugged terrain with towering cliff sides, pine-forested peaks and deep canyons make Idaho's natural scenery one of the wildest and striking in the U.S.
When all the facts are laid out, it is easy to see that the Gem State truly is a magnificent, hidden gem. VisitIdaho,org described Idaho best when they said, “The panhandle has emerald green hillsides, timbered mountains and pristine lakes. Central Idaho is covered with jagged peaks. The Snake River Plain, with its wide open vistas, irrigated farm lands and vibrant cities forms the character of Southern Idaho.” With its vast public lands, wilderness, varied landscape, wildlife, rivers and endless outdoor recreation activities, Idaho really should be your next vacation destination.