Did you know that the world’s largest beagle resides in Idaho? Or that 70% of the country’s trout is produced in Idaho?
Known for its potatoes, ghost towns, and watersports, Idaho is a unique U.S. state with a lot of fun stories to share.
Keep reading to learn tons of fun facts about Idaho!
52 Fun Facts About Idaho
Idaho State Symbols
1. Idaho’s nickname is the “Gem State.”
Due to its abundance of natural resources like mountains, rivers, lakes, minerals, metals, and gems, Idaho rightfully received its nickname as the Gem State.
The mountains of Idaho have a plentiful supply of gold, silver, lead, copper, zinc, cobalt, and rare gems, making it a popular mining location.
2. The state bird of Idaho is the Mountain Bluebird.
With a flash of blue, you can often see the Mountain Bluebird flit by to scavenge for huckleberries among the lush forests or mountains of Idaho.
The Mountain Bluebird is a small thrush that was designated as Idaho’s state bird in 1931.
Unlike the Mountain Bluebird, the state raptor of Idaho is the Peregrine Falcon!
3. The Western White Pine is Idaho’s state tree.
Prized as a straight and sturdy tree, the Western White Pine was declared Idaho’s state tree in 1935.
Due to fires and other trees taking over the land, the amount of Western White Pines in Idaho is 93% less than 40 years ago!
4. Idaho’s state flag was the only state seal designed by a woman.
Idaho’s state flag and great state seal were designed by Mrs. Emma Edwards Green in 1890.
It’s the only state seal designed by a woman, and it’s rich in Idaho state symbols, such as the mountains, potatoes, and a miner.
5. Idaho’s state fruit is the huckleberry.
One of the best things about Idaho is the abundance of huckleberries that are found in the mountains.
These huckleberries are especially welcome when backpacking any of the hundreds of trails in Idaho, and give you a much-needed burst of energy!
6. The state gem of Idaho is the Star Garnet.
The Star Garnet is a stunning purple or wine-colored gem that displays a reflection of a gorgeous four- or six-pointed star, and is found in the mountains of Idaho.
General Facts About Idaho
7. Idaho is a made-up word.
The name, Idaho, was created by George Willing in the 1800s, who claimed the word was a Native American Shoshone term for “gem of the mountains.”
While this is false, the name stuck!
8. The state capital of Idaho is Boise.
Boise is found in the southwestern quadrant of Idaho.
With a population of over 230,000 people, Boise is Idaho’s largest and most well-known city. Discover the best things to do in Boise here!
9. The population of Idaho is 1.9 million.
Throughout the tall state, Idaho’s population is spread thin, with a large portion of the population residing in Boise. Because of this, there are so many cool weekend trips from Boise to take, including to see hot springs, hikes, camping, and more!
Due to the diverse landscape and vast farming land, only some parts of the state are populated.
10. Idaho is the 13th largest state in the USA.
Being 83,000 square miles total, Idaho is one of the larger U.S. states.
The northern portion of the state–known as the panhandle–is 45 miles (72 km) wide, which expands to 310 miles (499 km) across the southern border of the state.
11. People from Idaho are called Idahoans.
Idahoans are hard-working people!
Some of the most common professions in Idaho include customer service occupations, health and personal care aids, registered nurses, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, salespeople, and material movers.
12. Popular cities in Idaho include Coeur d’Alene, Sun Valley, and Twin Falls.
What makes these cities in Idaho unique are the variation in culture, climate, and landscape.
13. 63% of Idaho is public land.
With 63% of the state’s land area being federally funded public land, Idaho is one of the largest public land holders in the nation!
14. Idaho borders four U.S. states and Canada.
Being both long and wide, Idaho borders Washington, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Canada!
15. Idaho’s key industries are manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism.
Idaho is one of the biggest producers of food, lumber, machinery, paper products, chemical products, electronics, silver, and other natural materials (mining), and tourism in the nation!
Continuing with fun Idaho facts, did you know the world’s largest factory for barrel cheese is located in Gooding, Idaho?
The factory produces over 780,000 lbs of American-style cheese a day!
Idaho History Facts
16. Idaho has five federally recognized tribes.
Each of these five tribes in Idaho have their own unique culture, traditions, and government.
17. Idaho was recognized as the 43rd U.S. state in 1890.
Despite exploration, Idaho Native Americans, such as the Shoshone, had never encountered Europeans until 1805.
With the arrival of Merriweather Lewis and William Clark, the land that became Idaho was deemed as valuable for fur trading and mining; therefore, the population grew and settlers pushed for statehood in 1890.
18. The first alpine chairlift was located in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Picture this: It’s 1936, and you’re out skiing with the family on a pristine bluebird day in Sun Valley to try out the world’s first alpine chairlift.
You pay 63 cents for your lift ticket.
These facts about Idaho really make you see how times have changed!
19. Idaho is famous for mining.
After striking rich and finding gold, silver, gems, and other precious materials in the mountains of Idaho, settlers flocked to the remote area to mine.
In the 1860s, the gold mining boom in Idaho brought trade, new inventions, and towns, many of which are ghost towns today (visit if you dare!).
Idaho Geology Facts
20. The highest point in Idaho is Borah Peak, at 12,662 feet.
Beloved by hikers, mountaineers, skiers, and climbers alike, Borah Peak welcomes outdoor adventurers and those looking for a challenge!
21. The deepest river gorge in North America is Hells Canyon in Idaho.
Found in Idaho’s high desert, Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America, at 7,900 feet deep!
While the area can be extremely hot in the summer (certainly living up to its name!), Hells Canyon is a beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors.
22. Idaho is home to the highest navigable river in the world.
The St. Joe River flows for 140 miles through northern Idaho, with a mouth elevation of 2,129 feet.
As boats can pass through the river, the St. Joe River is considered the highest navigable river in the world, though it’s particularly popular for its whitewater rafting, fishing, camping, swimming, and hiking!
23. Idaho has two ancient giant cedar groves.
Located near Priest Lake, the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars in Idaho is one of the most enchanting old-growth forests.
It features trees up to 2,000 years old and the stunning Granite Falls waterfall (check out this easy hike to the falls)!
24. Idaho has the tallest single sand dune in North America at Bruneau Dunes.
At a whopping 470 feet, Bruneau Dunes State Park has the tallest single-structured sand dune that attracts all kinds of outdoor adventurers!
Here, you can explore the dunes on your own, rent a sandboard from the Visitor Center, fish in the lakes at the foot of the dune, go horseback riding, or visit the Bruneau Dunes Observatory!
25. Shoshone Falls in Idaho is known as the “Niagara of the West”.
At 900 feet wide and 212 feet tall, Shoshone Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in North America.
It offers a host of outdoor activities, such as boating, swimming, paddleboarding, hiking, and picnicking from a scenic overlook.
26. Idaho sells 70% of the US’s supply of trout.
With hundreds of miles of river, tons of lakes, and many farms, Idaho is abundant in Rainbow Trout, tilapia, catfish, sturgeon, and caviar.
27. Craters of the Moon in Idaho is a dried lava flow.
While it feels like you’re on another planet when at Idaho’s Craters of the Moon, rest assured, you are still on planet Earth!
The vast landscape of Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve was created by a dried lava flow and cinder cones, and can be explored in many ways!
28. The northern region of Idaho is called the panhandle.
Idaho’s panhandle (or northern Idaho) is unique in that it has a different geology than the rest of the state. (Come see it for yourself with our 1-week Northern Idaho road trip itinerary!)
The panhandle has a much wetter climate, is bordered by mountains, and has quite a bit of untouched wilderness.
The area is known for its lumber production and was historically flourishing with fur trading and mining!
Fun Facts About Idaho
29. Evel Knieval did his famous 1974 jump in Twin Falls, Idaho.
One of the most unique and interesting facts about Idaho is that Evel Knieval–famous stunt performer and entertainer–jumped the Snake River Canyon in 1974!
Though the jump failed due to a parachute malfunction, the stuntman was honored with a monument.
You can visit the Evel Knieval jump site in Twin Falls, Idaho.
30. Idaho is known for its ghost towns.
Because of the great mining boom in the 1860s, Idaho’s settlers built towns all over the panhandle and southern Idaho.
While these may be funny facts about Idaho to some, these are actually considered to be some of the haunted places in Idaho!
31. Idaho has the most whitewater river miles than any other U.S. state.
Paddlers rejoice! At over 3,100 miles of whitewater river rafting miles, Idaho has plenty of opportunities for adventure!
With the Snake River, Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Hells Canyon, Lochsa River, Selway River, Bruneau River, South Fork Payette, and Jarbidge River, Idaho is brimming with water sports activities.
One of the best summer towns to check out is Stanley, Idaho for whitewater rafting. Here, you can explore more than just rivers – take a soak in Boat Box Hot Springs, Sunbeam Hot Springs, Bonneville Hot Springs, and Mountain Village hot springs!
32. Idaho has the longest gondola ride in North America.
The scenic gondola at Silver Mountain takes visitors up into the mountains of Idaho where you can get stunning views of the vast mountain landscape, have a picnic, see tons of wildlife, bike, and hike! (Also nearby is the iconic Hiawatha Bike trail!)
33. The longest floating boardwalk in the world is in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
At 3,300 feet, the floating boardwalk in Coeur d’Alene is the longest in the world!
The boardwalk is near a marina and is part of the Coeur d’Alene Resort, making it the perfect location to take photos or go on a walk.
34. Napoleon Dynamite was filmed in Idaho.
Little did you know, the 2004 film, Napoleon Dynamite, was filmed right here in the PNW in Idaho!
You can even visit Napoleon Dynamite’s house in Franklin County, Idaho!
35. Idaho grows up to 27 billion potatoes every year.
One of the most fun facts about Idaho is that it is the biggest producer of potatoes in the nation and supplies over 32% of the country’s production of potatoes!
This means that Idaho has nearly 25,000 farms and ranches over 11.8 million acres of land–all dedicated to the production of potatoes.
Fun Facts About Boise, Idaho
36. The statehouse in Boise is geothermally heated by thermal hot springs.
Geothermal, underground hot springs are downright cool, and what’s even cooler is that the statehouse in Boise is heated from one!
The capitol building in Idaho was the first in the U.S. to be heated by hot water, pumped from 3,000 feet underground.
- Kirkham Hot Springs (Lowman, Idaho)
- Rocky Canyon Hot Springs (Garden Valley, Idaho)
- Jerry Johnson Hot Springs (Lolo Pass)
- Pine Flats Hot Springs (Lowman, Idaho)
- Trail Creek Hot Springs (Cascade, Idaho)
- Goldbug Hot Springs (Salmon, Idaho)
- Burgdorf Hot Springs (McCall, Idaho)
37. Boise holds the largest Basque population outside of Spain and France.
The Basque are a southwestern European ethnic group that shared genetic ancestry with the ancient Vascones and Aquitanians.
Outside of where this people group originates, Idaho has the largest Basque population (16,000) and even has an area of land dedicated to the culture in central Boise called the Basque Block!
Interesting Facts About Idaho
38. Supposedly, nobody in Idaho has an accent.
In general, those living in the Pacific Northwest have a neutral American accent.
However, as each region has its own local terms and dialect, Idahoans have a few quirks, like saying “crick,” starting off stories with saying “sittin’ there,” and calling soda “pop.”
39. The Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho was the first to breed horses for certain traits.
After the conclusion of the Nez Perce War in the 1870s, many of the tribe’s horses were confiscated, sold, and killed by the U.S. Army, leaving the tribe to breed horses suitable for agriculture.
In 1994, the Nez Perce initiated a horse breeding program and crossbred the Appaloosa horse with the Central Asian breed, Akhal-Teke, to produce their own horse: the Nez Perce Horse!
40. There are 10,000 miles of river in Idaho.
With over 10,000 miles of river, Idaho has tons of opportunities for numerous kinds of watersports and outdoor adventures.
Some of the most popular activities in the area include whitewater rafting, boating, fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, hiking, and more!
41. 1% of Yellowstone National Park is located in Idaho.
Though much of the vast 2.2-million acres of Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming, just 3% is in Montana and 1% of the park is in Idaho!
Yellowstone National Park is known for its unique geothermal activity and for being the first national park, and has tons of amazing things to do!
42. Idaho makes 90% of the country’s lentils.
Legumes hold a special place in everyone’s hearts, but nowhere else are they more prized than in Idaho!
All 90% of the country’s lentils are grown within a 90-mile radius of Moscow, Idaho!
Weird Facts About Idaho
43. The “Center of the Universe” is in Wallace, Idaho.
Simply because it cannot be proved otherwise, the mayor of Wallace, Idaho named the town the “Center of the Universe.”
One of the most fun facts about Idaho is that there is a yearly celebration of the self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe” in Wallace, Idaho!
44. Atomic City was once home to a real live nuclear reactor.
45. Supposedly, the Idaho State Penitentiary is haunted.
To some, Idaho is surely haunted, with one of the most haunted locations being the Idaho State Penitentiary.
The Old Idaho State Penitentiary was established in 1870 and had over 10,000 convicts, many of which died in its walls and haunt them today…
Interested in more haunted places in Idaho? Check them out here!
46. The largest straw bale maze in the world was in Rupert, Idaho.
Receiving a Guinness World Record, the largest straw bale maze in Rupert, Idaho was coined “Mega Maze” and attracted tourists and locals alike.
The maze was 96,847 square feet, had 1.6 miles of pathway, and used 3,202 bales of straw, each weighing 1,100 pounds!
47. Dog Bark Park Inn is the world’s largest beagle.
The world’s largest beagle, also known as the Dog Bark Park Inn, is a guesthouse in Cottonwood, Idaho that you can stay in (two-night minimum stay)!
If these weird facts about Idaho aren’t enough, check out the Dog Bark Park Inn for yourself.
48. Idaho has a potato museum in Blackfoot, Idaho.
The Idaho Potato Museum is a masterpiece.
Telling the story of potato farming in Idaho, the Idaho Potato Museum provides visitors with a unique experience they’ll remember for a lifetime.
And, funny enough, if you’re visiting from out of state, you can get “free taters for out of staters!”
49. Ernest Hemmingway was buried in the Ketchum Cemetery.
The famous 20th century author, Ernest Hemmingway, died at 61 and was buried in Ketchum Cemetery in 1961.
50. The Brundage Bra Tree in Idaho collects tons of bras from skiers.
While the tree is officially named the Centennial Tree after the chairlift, it is colloquially known as the Brundage Bra Tree, making it one of the most fun facts about Idaho!
51. Idaho is full of famous people.
Stars like Aaron Paul, Joe Alberston (the founder of Albertsons grocery stores), Torrie Wilson (Miss Galaxy 1999), and J.R. Simplot were all born in Idaho!
52. There have been many movies filmed in Idaho.
We hope you enjoyed this post of fun facts about Idaho! As we learn more interesting Idaho facts, we’ll be sure to add them to the list.