The Secretive Splendour of Idaho
Idaho is often overlooked by those seeking natural splendour in the United States, passed over in favour
of west coast cities or the headline-grabbing Yellowstone National Park. But those who take the time to
explore and linger a while in the Pacific Northwest will find find that Idaho, wedged in between the
Rocky Mountains and the coastal states of Washington and Oregon, has a lot to offer.
Idaho is known in the US as the 'gem state' because all sorts of different gem stones have been found
there. This is one of only two places in the world (the other being India) where star garnets are found in
any significant quantities. But Idaho may just as well have gained the name from its quiet and
unassuming beauty. It is indeed a gem in its own right, with huge swathes of pristine wilderness just
waiting to be explored. Idaho has a land area larger than all of New England put together and yet a
population less than one seventh the size. There are under two million Idahoans, while New England is
home to over fourteen and a half million.
Much of the space is used for farming and potatoes are a common crop here. However, much of the state
is made up of rugged and mountainous wilderness. The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness
Area is the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the continental United States. This is a lush
land with high mountains, deep canyons and a number of watercourses that run through the scenic
Idaho is a place of extremes. Snow capped mountains brush the sky. Hells Canyon, through which the
Snake river rushes, is the deepest gorge in the United States. The majestic Shoshone Falls fall from a
height higher than that of the Niagara Falls. Idaho summers can be hot and its winters can be chilly but
for the major settlements, prolonged periods of bitter, sub-zero temperatures are rare. Snow in the
mountains makes skiing a popular winter pastime. Due to the rivers of the state, Idaho has the best hydro-
electric capabilities in the United States and generates 75% of its energy in this way.
Though so often overlooked by foreign visitors, some of the natural wonders and historic settlements of
this state are popular tourist attractions with Americans and it is easy to see why so many people are
drawn to such places as the Craters of the Moon National Monument, the City of Rocks National Reserve
and the Sawtooth Mountains to name just a few of the most popular spots. Then of course there is
Yellowstone National Park, which spills just a little over the border into Idaho.
Idaho is a place for nature lovers and those who like wild spaces with few people. It is a space for people
who love adventure and feel at home in the great outdoors. So if that sounds like you, then the secretive
splendour of the wildernesses of Idaho is likely to be something you will want to keep to yourself.