State: Idaho – ID

Published on July 8th, 2015 | by Brandon Ramsey in Geography


The Idaho state abbreviation is ID, it is a state in the northwestern area of the U.S. It is the 14th largest, 39th most populated, and 7th least densely populated of the 50 U.S. States. Today we’re going to examine this place in great detail as we learn more about what makes it unique.

Today we’ll take a look at an overview of the area, the geography, government, and finally some historical sights that this place has to offer. First, before anything else, here are some key facts about ID:

  • Capital: Boise
  • Admitted to the Union: July 3, 1890 (43rd state)
  • Time Zone: Pacific/Mountain (UTC-8/-7)
  • State Abbreviation: ID
  • Nickname: Gem State
  • Motto: Esto Perpetua
  • State Website: Idaho.gov
  • State Flag
  • Official Bird: Mountain Bluebird
  • Fish: Cutthroat Trout
  • Flower: Syringa
  • Fruit: Huckleberry
  • Gem: Star Garnet

map of Idaho in the United States

ID State Overview

Residents of this area are known as Idahoans. This is a mountainous region with a total area that is larger than New England. In the north, it is bordered by the Canadian province of British Columbia. Montana is to the northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah are to the south. Finally, Washington and Oregon are to the west.

There is a network of dams and locks on the Columbia River and the Snake River that results in the city of Lewiston being the farthest inland seaport on the Pacific coast. The nickname “The Gem State” comes from the fact that almost every kind of gemstone has been found here at some point.

This is also one of only two places in the world where star garnets can be found in any significant quantity. The only other place is India. Another nickname used occasionally is the “Potato State” because of the popular and widely distributed crop that comes from this area. The state motto is Esto Perpetua which is Latin for “Let it be Forever.”

map of Idaho

Geography and Climate Features

In total, there are six states and one Canadian province bordering ID. The landscape overall is mountainous and rugged. Much of the area hasn’t been touched by civilization. One example is the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area, which is 2.3 million acres of protected wilderness, one of the largest of its kind in the U.S.

As one of the Rocky Mountain states, there is a large amount of scenic views and a vast number of natural resources. The Snake River runs through Hells Canyon which is the deepest gorge in the U.S. Shoshone Falls is higher than Niagara Falls.

The highest elevation is Borah Peak at 12,662 feet. The lowest point is in Lewiston where the Clearwater River joins the Snake River. There are a number of mountain ranges in the area, but the most popular is the Sawtooth Range.

The area is divided into two time zones. The southern area is in the Mountain Time Zone, while the area north of the Salmon River is in the Pacific Time Zone. There is a large variation in the climate across the area. The western border for example falls into area near the Pacific Ocean. This results in winters that are less intense than other areas.

The largest differences are in the summer across the state. Extend periods of temperatures over 98 degrees Fahrenheit are rare, but summers are hot and dry regardless. The highest all-time temperature was 118 degrees recorded in July of 1934. The lowest temperature was -60 degrees Fahrenheit in January and 1943.

The Government Structure of ID

The constitution of ID is similar to the national one, but it does have several additional elements. The document defines how the state government is structured and how it functions. It can be amended through plebiscite. Some notable elements require the state to maintain a balanced budget.

This results in a low debt overall. All of the laws are contained within the Idaho Code which operates under the original state constitution from (1889). There are three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. Furthermore it is divided into 44 counties ranging anywhere from 410 to 8,502 square miles.

National Parks and Historic Sites

There are numerous national parks and historic areas in the state. Here are some notable examples:

1. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

This area on the border of Oregon was established by Congress in 1975 to protect the historical and archaeological aspects of the Hells Canyon area. Almost 215,000 acres of the area are designated as the Hells Canyon wilderness. This includes 900 miles of hiking trails.

There is a 12,000 acre Archaeological District that is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places as well.

2.  Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail 

This trail stretches across the U.S. and shows the travel path of the famous explorers who went on the Lewis and Clark Expedition from 1804 to 1806. It passes through multiple states, Idaho being one of them.

3. Sawtooth National Recreation Area 

This National Recreation Area is located within the Boise, Challis, and Sawtooth National Forests. It was established in 1972 and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The entire area is roughly 778,000 acres and includes things like backpacking, white water rafting, camping, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, and hunting.

In prehistoric times, this was a heavily glacial area. Remnants of this past are still found in the form of glacial lakes, moraines, hanging valleys, and more. It is also the location of the Sawtooth Fault which has been the cause of two major earthquakes roughly 4,000 and 7,000 years ago.

Grey wolves were introduced in the 1990s and while grizzly bears were originally part of the plan, it was abandoned. The SNRA also believes it is an ideal habitat for wolverines and the currently endangered Canada Lynx. Bull trout are another species that are heavily monitored each year.

4. The Minidoka National Historic Site 

This location is dedicated to the 9,000 Japanese Americans who were imprisoned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center during World War II. It was one of ten camps where citizens and resident “aliens” were interned during the Second World War. At its peak, the camp had 9,397 residents.

Now that you’ve absorbed all of this information about the state, check out these Idaho state facts for even more knowledge! Don’t forget to share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments below!

printable map of Idaho



About the Author
Brandon Ramsey

Brandon Ramsey is the head author and editor of The Time Now Blog. Be sure to follow us via social media!


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