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Idaho – Vacation in the Gem State

Strangely enough, Idaho is known to most people only for being the nation’s foremost “potato state.” Though the output of this important product is certainly a part of Idaho’s economy, the state has so much more to offer. For one, this is a region of great contrasts in landscape, nature, and topography. Giant mountain ranges in the north, part of the Rocky Mountains, are contrasted with plains and fields in some southern parts. Crystal-clear lakes and winding rivers and fruitful vineyards on soft slopes can be found in Idaho just like rugged volcano soil and steep canyons. Time to throw the prejudices aside and discover a state where the American Frontier or at least an unspoiled wilderness seems to be still existent.

Idaho borders with six US states and also has a 48-mile long border to Canada. The state has a total population of some 1.3 million people. That is not much for an area of more than 83,000 square miles. Indeed, Idaho is one of the least densely populated states, with just under 16 persons living on a square mile. Idaho is a full state since 1890. Topographically, the state is one of extremes. Its highest point, Borah Peak, is at an impressive 12,662 feet. The low point within the state’s borders, at Lewiston by the Clearwater River, is a mere 745 feet above sea level. These differences also extend to the climate since the higher regions get significantly more snow in winter. Also, the western part has a more moderate climate due to the proximity of the Pacific Ocean, which is only some 300 miles away from Idaho’s western border. Usually the temperatures in summer are not extremely hot. In winter, extended frost (except in the high mountain regions) is rare.

The North

Northern Idaho is characterized by impressive mountain panoramas, thick forests, many lakes and rivers, but also various vineyards throughout the region. Hiking, canoeing, and fishing are natural activities here. Scenic byways and panoramic drives on the slopes of the mountains reveal magnificent views over the land and its nature. Popular scenic byways include the International Selkirk Loop, the White Pine Scenic Byway, and the Panhandle Historic Rivers Passage. Among the largest lakes of the region are Lake Pend Oreille, Priest Lake and Coeur d’Alene Lake. In fact, they are all part of a large interconnected system or web of countless lakes, rivers and creeks. Priest Lake and Priest River are especially popular for fishing – trophy Mackinaw and Brook Trout are being caught here.

In and around Coeur d’Alene there are numerous attractions in addition to the great nature and waters. Silverwood Theme Park offers more than 65 rides and attractions and also hosts Boulder Beach Water Park. “Wild Waters” is another entertainment park with lots of slides and other water fun activities. The region really offers a blend of both calming natural scenarios and – for those who need a little more action – a lot of action as well!

The South

Idaho’s capital city is located in the southwestern part of the state. Boise has an estimated population of slightly more than 200,000. The city frequently is ranked among the top places in the nation to live and make business, and is also regarded one of the safest cities in the US. Boise has a large Basque community which adds a very special ethnic flavor to the community. In the Basque Museum and Cultural Center one can learn all about their heritage and customs. Several other museums and attractions await visitors in Boise. The city and its surroundings host countless lodging options for all budgets. These range from bed & breakfast places to up-scale hotels and vacation apartments. The Bogus Basin Mountain Resort is located just outside the city. It is a center of winter sports of all kind, especially cross-country and downhill skiing and snowboarding. Other major ski resorts in Idaho include Sun Valley and Grand Targhee.

In the south central portion, Snake River Canyon and the amazing cascading waterfalls of the Twin Falls region are major attractions. The Snake River is a tributary of the Columbia River. The river has some of the finest whitewater rafting in the US. The Snake River Canyon is simply a stunning site. Many waterfalls are located in the area, such as the Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls.

Further east, a landscape of impressive granite mountain formations awaits you. Sawtooth National Recreation Area offers some of the state’s finest panoramas and skylines. One of the most stunning places to visit is doubtlessly the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve near Arco. Established in 1924, it preserves the characteristic and fascinating volcano landscape. The natural figures that can be marveled at include various forms of rifts, cones, and caves. Guided tours are offered. At Sun Valley, one can not only head down the slopes on ski and snowboard. One of the region’s most prominent frequent visitors of the past is remembered with a monument: Ernest Hemingway, who loved coming here to hunt and enjoy the wilderness. The region abounds with luxurious accommodation, in winter and summer alike.

In the very east, Idaho Falls is the largest city. A variety of cultural facilities are located here, such as the Museum of Idaho, the Willard Arts Center or Colonial Theater, the Eagle Rock Art Museum, and the Actors Repertory Theatre of Idaho. Idaho Falls is a splendid cultural experience for visitors.

The state of Idaho is the right destination for nature’s lovers, winter sports enthusiasts, families, couples, and fun-oriented people. Within the state’s boundaries lie some of America’s most marvelous natural sights that well deserve a visit.

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