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Idaho

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Idaho

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Introduction

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Idaho is a US state in the northwest of the country. It borders Washington and Oregon to the west, Canada to the north, Wyoming to the east, Montana to the northeast, and Utah and Nevada to the south. It's famous in the US for its potatoes. The state covers around 83,000 square miles and has just over 1.5 million inhabitants, most of them living in the largest city and capital Boise. Idaho became a state only in 1890 as number 43.

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Geography

Idaho borders six states and one Canadian province. The states of Washington and Oregon are to the west, Nevada and Utah are to the south, and Montana and Wyoming are to the east. Idaho also shares a short border with the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north. The landscape is rugged with some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the United States. At 9,300 km², the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area is the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the continental United States. Idaho is a Rocky Mountain state with abundant natural resources and scenic areas. The state has snow-capped mountain ranges, rapids, vast lakes and steep canyons. The waters of the Snake River rush through Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in the United States.
Shoshone Falls plunges down rugged cliffs from a height greater than that of Niagara Falls. The major rivers in Idaho are the Snake River, the Clark Fork/Pend Oreille River, the Clearwater River, the Salmon River. Other significant rivers include the Coeur d'Alene River, the Spokane River, the Boise River, and the Payette River. The Salmon River empties into the Snake in Hells Canyon and forms the southern boundary of Nez Perce County on its north shore, of which Lewiston is the county seat. The Port of Lewiston, at the confluence of the Clearwater and the Snake Rivers is the farthest inland seaport on the West Coast at 465 miles from the Pacific at Astoria, Oregon.
Idaho's highest point is Borah Peak, at 3,859 metres, in the Lost River Range north of Mackay. Idaho's lowest point, at 216 metres, is in Lewiston, where the Clearwater River joins the Snake River and continues into Washington. The Sawtooth Range is often considered Idaho's most famous mountain range. Other mountain ranges in Idaho include the Bitterroot Range, the White Cloud Mountains, the Lost River Range, the Clearwater Mountains, and the Salmon River Mountains.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

  • Idaho Sun Valley offers many activities such as mountain biking and fly fishing.
  • Sawtooth Mountain National Recreation Area is ideal for adventure trips, camping out in the woods, etc. You can also arrange guided tours through the area.
  • Snake River is a good spot for rafting.
  • Salmon River is a good spot for rafting.

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Weather

Idaho has much variation in its climate. Although the state's western border is located about 560 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean, the maritime influence is still felt in Idaho, especially in the winter when cloud cover, humidity, and precipitation are at their maximum extent. This influence has a moderating effect in the winter where temperatures are not as low as would otherwise be expected for a northern state with a predominantly elevated altitude. The maritime influence is least prominent in the eastern part of the state where the precipitation patterns are often reversed, with wetter summers and drier winters, and seasonal temperature differences more extreme, showing a more semi-arid continental climate. Weather in Idaho can be hot, although extended periods over 38 °C for the maximum temperature are rare, except for the lowest point in elevation, Lewiston, which correspondingly sees very little snow. Hot summer days are tempered by the low relative humidity and cooler evenings during summer months since, for most of the state, the highest diurnal difference in temperature is often in the summer. Winters can be cold, although extended periods of bitter cold weather below zero are unusual. This is what led the railroad tycoon Harriman family to develop the most famous ski resort, Sun Valley. Idaho's all time highest temperature of 48 °C was recorded at Orofino on July 28, 1934; the all time lowest temperature of -51 °C was recorded at Island Park Dam on January 18, 1943.

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Getting There

By Plane

Boise Airport (BOI) has most flights, including to/from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, Sacramento, San Jose, Seattle, Spokane, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Reno, Oakland, Chicago, San Francisco and Phoenix.
Idaho Falls Regional Airport offers flights to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Denver.
Twin Falls, Haily, Lewiston and Pocatello have regiona airfields as well, with flights to Salt Lake City and some of them also offering flights to Seattle or even Los Angeles.

By Train

The Empire Builder, operated by Amtrak, travels between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington, stopping en route in Sandpoint, Idaho.

By Bus

Check Greyhound for options.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

Idaho has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.

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Sleep

Hotel and Motel Chains

There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:

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This is version 14. Last edited at 8:04 on Dec 27, 12 by Utrecht. 14 articles link to this page.

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