Whether you live in America or are just curious about the country’s states, some of these Idaho facts might blow your mind!
It is the beloved Gem State, and I’m here to tell you how it got its nickname, along with many other interesting facts about Idaho.
The state has plenty of distinctive information from history to brilliant wildlife and more.
These tidbits provide knowledge that could impress your friends – especially if they live in the state!
If you’re ready to learn some fun facts about Idaho, its famous potatoes, and all that makes it special, you’ve come to the right place.
26 Idaho Facts: Fun Facts About Idaho To Read Now
1. It Is The Gem State
One of the most important fun facts about Idaho is how the state got its nickname. The Gem state was named after its many natural resources, including precious gems!
The Gem State mines many treasures, including jade, topaz, agate, jasper, zircon, tourmaline, and, most significantly, garnet and opal.
Besides gemstones, the state is rich in natural wonders like rivers, mountains, and lakes, but it also has a steady supply of precious metals and agricultural goods.
All these elements contribute to the fitting nickname.
2. You Can See Four States From Heaven’s Gate
Heaven’s Gate Lookout is a hiking destination near the Montana border in the Bitterroot National Forest in northern Idaho.
It offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Bitterroot Valley, and you can see up to 19 miles away, with parts of Oregon, Washington, and Montana in sight. To get to Heaven’s Gate, you can hike or drive up.
Read next: 29 Fun Facts About Montana
3. Potatoes And Trout Are Very Significant
If you’re unfamiliar with the state, one of the Idaho facts that most Americans know is that the state is big on potatoes! Sometimes, that’s the only thing people know!
Potatoes are so momentous that almost a third of America’s potatoes come from the Gem State.
You best believe the farmland dedicated to potatoes is enormous – 300,000 acres!
Besides the starchy star, trout fish is even more significant! If you’re eating trout in any other state, chances are it’s from here because they supply 70% of America’s trout, producing around 41 million pounds annually!
4. It is the 43rd State
If you want some Idaho facts, here’s a brief history lesson: On July 3, 1890, the state joined as the 43rd American state.
Although late to the party, the land was initially considered part of Oregon Country during the 19th century, which was officially US territory in 1846.
For thousands of years before colonization, the land was home to Native American tribes, whose history and culture are still honored today.
5. Sun Valley Had The World’s First Chair Lift
America’s first destination ski resort was Sun Valley, situated in the Wood River Valley of central Idaho.
The Union Pacific Railroad developed Sun Valley in the 1930s to encourage train travel to the American West, and the Sun Valley Resort opened in 1936 with the world’s first ski chair lift system that could lift 400 people an hour!
Ultimately, the attraction was successful and brought plenty of publicity.
6. The Boise Statehouse Has Geothermal Heating
Idaho facts don’t disappoint if you consider this fun bit of info! The Boise Statehouse uses naturally heated water from below the city.
They also use geothermal heating to warm around 90 other buildings in the city as well and to melt snowy streets.
You can visit a few warm pools filled with this naturally heated water. Geothermal heating has been used in Boise, the largest city, since the 1890s!
7. The State Has A Large Basque Population
Basque people, also known as the Euskaldunak, are unique people with a distinct cultural identity, language, and history from the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain and France.
Most Baque people live in Spain or France, but Idaho also has a relatively large community, providing a home to them beyond the Basque Country.
8. The State Has 107,651 Miles Of River
The Gem State packs some serious river mileage, with 107,651 miles worth of it. Of the 8,941 named rivers, Snake River is the longest at 779 miles.
These rivers contribute to the state’s various outdoor recreation activities, offering every water activity you can think of.
If you’re visiting the state, you can take a boat ride, go tubing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and fishing to experience its endless rivers.
9. A Con Artist Named The State
Perhaps the most hilarious of Idaho facts is the state’s name.
Many believe it’s Native American, meaning ‘Gem of the Mountains,’ but the person who named it, George M. Willing, was a con artist who tricked Congress into believing that when submitting the name idea.
The name still stuck, despite local disappointment upon discovering the meaning was a hoax.
10. It Is Home To The Deepest Gorge, Hells Canyon
Hells Canyon, situated on the border of Oregon, is the deepest river gorge on the continent. Even more so than the Grand Canyon!
The Snake River shaped Hells Canyon over 6 million years. The ten-mile-wide canyon extends for around 125 miles and has depths of over 7,900 feet.
Hells Canyon has the most breathtaking views, with gigantic walls, steep cliffs, and the Snake River passing through it.
11. A Woman Designed The State Seal
Adding to a number of Idaho fun facts is that the only American state seal to be designed by a woman is Idaho’s!
Emma Edwards Green designed the seal in a contest in 1890, where it was chosen and became official on March 14, 1891. The state seal was also added to the state flag on March 5, 1907.
The seal and flag have a woman, a miner, and agricultural elements reflecting the state’s history as a mining and agricultural land and its dedication to justice and liberty.
12. Gold Started The Economy
Gold was found in Orofino Creek in 1860, quickly sparking the Idaho gold rush.
Where there’s gold, there are people, and sure enough, mining camps were established, following towns and more people.
It didn’t take settlers long to discover that the land had other minerals and perfect agricultural conditions, further boosting the economy.
13. Idahoans Have A Neutral Accent
They may not believe they speak differently until someone asks where their accent is from, but they talk in a very neutral American accent.
It doesn’t ring any bells like a Southern or the Boston accent.
To a non-American ear, you might not be able to pick up too much of a difference, but Idahoans pronounce vowels clearly without strong vowel shifts and pronounce their o’s neutrally without any ‘drawling.’
14. Wallace Is The Center Of The Universe
If you’re looking for Idaho facts that will make you laugh, this one is a goodie!
Since the size and positioning of everything in the universe are beyond human comprehension, nothing can prove that the mayor was wrong when he officially stated that Wallace is the center of the universe!
This quirky belief is celebrated by locals, and there’s even a utility hole dedicated to pinpointing the center of the universe.
15. It Is The Resting Place Of Ernest Hemmingway
Ernest Hemingway, the famous American novelist, was deeply fond of the Gem State and spent many of his days in Sun Valley, admiring the breathtaking views of the astounding natural lakes, rivers, hills, and mountains.
His friend, Tillie Arnold, even wrote a book called “The Idaho Hemingway.” Ernest wrote a few of his books in the state, too. He spent the last of his life in Ketchum, where he now rests peacefully.
16. There Is Plenty Of Wilderness
The state has millions of acres of mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and unique geological formations.
Most of the famous Yellowstone National Park is in Wyoming, but a small portion extends into the Gem State!
There’s more to see than the minor portion of Yellowstone; instead, you can try Heyburn State Park, Coeur d’Alene’s, Bear Lake, Thousand Springs, Winchester Lake, or the many other central options.
17. The State Is Home To Atomic City
Atomic City was established in the 1950s during the Cold War to race against the Soviet Union.
Idaho National Laboratory was built for studying and testing nuclear energy. It remains a key research facility in atomic energy today.
Atomic City is home to around 41 people, and there is a single bar and shop to supply residents with food and entertainment.
Sadly, one of the very few recorded nuclear fatalities ever to occur in America happened in 1961 near Atomic City at reactor SL-1 in the Lost River desert – taking the lives of three men.
18. It Has The World’s Longest Gondola Ride
As for record-breaking Idaho fun facts, Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg has a 3.1-mile-long gondola ride contributing to year-round skiing and snowboarding.
The gondola ride rises to around 3400 feet and takes 20 minutes to complete. It starts at downtown Kellog and ends on Silver Mountain.
19. There Are Five Indigenous Tribes
Native Americans have lived in the state’s territory for thousands of years, and many tribes still call it home today.
They live in designated reservations, which are the Fort Hall Reservation, Coeur d’Alene Reservation, the Kootenai Reservation, the Nez Perce Reservation, and the Duck Valley Reservation shared with Nevada.
The tribes that live in the Gem State include:
- Shoshone Bannock
- Shoshone Paiute
- Coeur d’Alene
- Nez Perce
20. The State Has Its Own Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is one of the most stunning wonders of the world, but the state has its own Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, nicknamed “Niagara of the West.”
Shoshone Falls are the largest natural waterfalls in the entire United States, taller than Niagara, reaching 212 feet high and up to 900 feet in width.
If you’d like to visit, there’s a $5 entrance fee, and you can enjoy the lookouts, picnic areas, swimming spots, and hiking trails.
21. There Are Many Ghost Towns
A spooky contribution to Idaho facts is the state’s Ghost Towns, once home to miners and settlers in the 1860s.
There are 29 abandoned towns scattered throughout the state that you can visit for a unique look at the state’s history.
The most popular abandoned towns are Silver City, Custer, Bayhorse, and Burke.
22. There Are Some Strange Laws
Idaho facts would be incomplete without the mention of some funny and strange laws that you should probably listen to!
Here are the top bizarre laws:
- Living in a dog kennel is illegal if you’re a human.
- It’s forbidden to use a merry-go-round on Sundays.
- You can get six months of jail time if you sell a Deluxe potato with rot, blemishes, or sun damage!
- You cannot sweep dirt from your house into the street.
- Fishing from the back of a camel is illegal.
- You can’t ride a motorcycle in Idaho Falls if you’re 88 or older.
23. The State Is An Agricultural Gold Mine
As mentioned earlier in the Idaho facts list, potatoes and lentils are ultra-significant in the state’s agricultural industry, but so are other crops!
The Gem State has all five classes of wheat, which is the state’s second-largest crop. The state also provides America with 5% of its total lentils and a wide range of other crops.
The other significant crops also include:
- Apples and other fruit
24. The State Has A Guinness World Record
Interesting facts about Idaho don’t get better than a Guinness World Record!
Besides the endless rivers and the world’s longest gondola ride, the state has the longest straw bale maze, which is over 96,847 square feet.
This means that there are two miles of maze to get through, putting the Gem State in the 2013 Guinness Book of World Records. How a-maze-ing is that?
25. It Is Home To One Of The World’s Most Expensive Bulls
If you were wondering what a 13-month-old, 1,410-pound, perfectly muscular Hereford bull might cost, hopefully, your price tag is less than the one sold in the state in 2013.
This prized animal put a $600,000 dent into someone’s wallet, making it one of the most expensive bulls ever!
26. The State Has The Only Floating Golf Green
If you want to put your golfing skills to the ultimate test, the Coeur d’Alene Resort has a small island golfing green for the 14th hole.
What’s more, the island moves to a new location every day via a cable system! What about the countless missed balls that land in the lake? The resort hires divers to fish them out seasonally!
Quick Fun Facts About Idaho State
The 2004 movie Napoleon Dynamite was filmed in Idaho.
The capitol building in Idaho was the United States’ first capitol to be heated by geothermal water pumped from 3,000 feet underground.
Idaho is the 11th largest state, measuring 82,643 square miles.
Idaho borders Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and one Canadian province.
That’s it for today! I sincerely hope you had a good time reading these fun facts about Idaho! Wanna help me out? Be sure to share this article on your social media. Oh, and if you know some fun Idaho facts, please drop them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!