What Is Idaho Known For? (15 Things It’s Famous For) 

Idaho is a state in the US located in the Pacific Northwest region. It shares a border with six other US states and Canada. As of 2020, Idaho had a population of approximately 1,800,000 people. These lands have been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before European colonization. Idaho was also one of the last states to be admitted to the Union in 1890.

Idaho is known for its potato production, amazing wilderness, and precious gemstones. This state is home to the deepest river gorge in North America, Hells Canyon. Idaho has the highest number of hot springs in the US and was the first state to power an entire city with atomic energy.


Idaho is particularly known for its potato production. This state is the US’s number one producer and provides one-third of the nation’s total supply. 

Idaho has warm days, cool nights, plenty of irrigation coming from the mountains, and rich volcanic soil. These are the perfect conditions for growing veggies such as potatoes. This state harvests 13 billion pounds of potatoes every year. 

Idaho’s potatoes are fluffier than common ones. This results in crispier and less greasy fries. For this reason, 72% of Americans prefer to eat potatoes coming from this state over others. 

The Gem State

Idaho is also known as ‘The Gem State’. This is because this state is home to an abundance of gemstones. Its mountains contain all sorts of minerals. Gold, silver, cobalt, lead, copper, zinc, and many other precious stones were found here. 

The name Idaho in itself was supposed to mean ‘Gem of the Mountain’. According to the story, Congress chose this name in 1869. This word was proposed by George M. Willing, a mining lobbyist who convinced the Congress that ‘Idaho’ meant ‘Gem of the Mountain’ in the Indian language. Later on, it was discovered that Mr. Willing had made it all up. 

Lentils capital of the world

The Palouse is often considered the lentil’s capital of the world. This region covers the north-central area of Idaho as well as some parts of Washington.

Lentils arrived in this area in 1916 when J. J. Wagner asked a local pastor to order some seeds from Europe. He came back with lentil seeds which Wagner proceeded to plant on two test rows. The lentils grew so well that other farmers started to grow them as well. 

As of today, The Palouse region produces more than 95 % of the US’s total supply! 

North America’s deepest river gorge

Many people think the Grand Canyon is the deepest gorge in North America, but Hells Canyon is deeper! This wonderful canyon is located in the north of the state and was carved by the Snake River. 

Hells Canyon is 7,993 feet deep and is part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Plenty of tribes lived here throughout history. 

The first population to settle in this area was the Nez Percé tribe. Later on, other populations visited these lands. Some of these include the Shoshone-Bannock, the Northern Paiute, and the Cayuse Indians.

The canyon is home to a three-dam complex. Together they generate a capacity of 1,167 megawatts of electricity. This is about 70% of Idaho’s total hydroelectricity. But unfortunately, there is also a downside. The three-dam complex blocks the migration of salmon and other fish upstream of the canyon.

Dog Bark Park Inn 

Dog Bark Park Inn is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Idaho. This unique hotel is known worldwide for its peculiar shape. Known as the ‘Sweet Willy’ by the locals, Dog Bark Park Inn looks like a beagle from the outside! This bed and breakfast is located along Highway 95 in Cottonwood and gathers thousands of visitors each year.

Dog Bark Park Inn opened its doors in 2003 and was designed by Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin. Apart from the hotel, here you will find a gift store and a visitor center. Dog Bark Park Inn is also home to an art exposition displaying chainsaw pieces by Sullivan and Conklin. The carvings include several dog breeds. 

The highest number of hot springs in the US

Not many people know that Idaho has the highest number of hot springs in the whole country. In total, the state has a total of 240 hot springs, 130 of which are soakable.

The majority of these springs are the result of leftover energy that heats the water near fault lines. Scientists believe that the leftover energy was caused by the collision of a meteorite that occurred 17 million years ago. According to researchers, the meteorite hit the area where southeast Oregon is now located.

The first atomic-powered city in the world

Idaho is also home to the first community in the world to only use energy generated by nuclear power. This city is called Arco and is located in Butte County. 

Arco became famous worldwide in 1955. This year, the city was powered by the Argonne National Laboratory’s BORAX-III reactor for a whole hour. 

Arco made the news again in January 1961. At the beginning of this year, an operator made a maintenance error destroying the SL-1 reactor. Three people lost their lives in the accident. Thankfully, to this day, this remains the only fatal reactor accident in the US.

Amazing wilderness and spectacular mountains 

Idaho is also known as ‘The Wilderness State’. In fact, 4.8 million acres have been protected with the wilderness designation. This area is larger than the three smallest states in the US combined.

Most of Idaho is covered by mountain ranges. One of the most famous mountains in the state is Bald Mountain, where the first US ski resort was opened. The highest peak in Idaho is the Borah Peak, with a height of 12,662 feet.

Star garnet

The star garnet is an incredibly rare gemstone that can only be found in Panhandle National Forests and India. This is a 12-sided crystal usually brownish-red or reddish-black. Most star garnets display a four-rayed star, but some may have a six-rayed star. The sizes can vary from a golf ball to a sand particle. 

The star garnet became the official state gemstone of Idaho in 1967. Its price ranges from 3$ to 130$ per carat. 

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Another of Idaho’s most visited places is the Craters of the Moon National Monument. As the name suggests, this preserve is unique and gives its visitors the impression of having landed on the moon. These wonderfully weird landscapes were formed by the lava roughly 15 million years ago. 

The Craters of the Moon National Monument is located in south-central Idaho. It extends over an area of 53,500 acres entirely covered by lava formations. This area was designated a park in 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge. 

National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest and Festival

The National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest is surely one of the most unique festivals in the US! This is a competition of old-time music, a genre of North American folk music. 

This event is held every year in the city of Weiser. It takes place in the third week of June and gathers roughly 350 fiddlers competing against each other.

Approximately 7,000 people come to the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest every year. This festival is almost 70 years old as the first edition was held in 1953. Apart from the contests, this festival features performances, workshops, and parades. 

Trout fishing

Idaho is also known for being a trout fishing paradise. This state supplies the majority of trout in the whole US.

Every year, thousands of people come here to try to catch this popular fish.

Fly fishermen often opt for the Boise River while tourists usually go to the Deer Creek Reservoir. This area has a high elevation and is therefore perfect during the summer months when the other rivers and lakes in the state are too hot.


Huckleberries are Idaho’s state fruit and are found in the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest. These berries are normally picked from June to August, but the ideal period to forage is in late July and early August.

Huckleberries can be eaten raw or used in several recipes. These include jam, pies, and delicious ice creams!

Finger steaks 

Idaho’s finger steaks are one of the best culinary delicacies in the state. They consist of strips of steak battered and deep-fried. They are usually served with Ranch dressing on the side. According to the story, finger steaks were invented in Boise in the 1950s. Milo’s Tavern was the first restaurant to serve them on its menu. Nowadays, they can be found in most of Idaho’s eateries. 

Shoshone Falls

Often referred to as ‘The Niagara of the West’, Shoshone Falls are one of the best scenic attractions in Idaho. These waterfalls have a height of 212-feet and are higher than Niagara Falls! They are part of the Snake River and are located in the south of Idaho. 

Shoshone Falls can reach flows of 20,000 cubic feet per second (CFS). However, their usual flow ranges from 10,000 to 12,000 CFS. Tourists started to visit the area back in the mid-19th century. In those years, travelers from the Oregon Trail would deviate their path to visit this stunning natural landscape.