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The highest point in Idaho is 12,662 feet above sea level at Borah Peak
The lowest point in Idaho is 710 feet above sea level at the Snake River near Lewiston

Idaho is in both the Mountain and the Pacific Time Zones
Average elevation: 5,000 feet above sea level
Idaho is home to Hell's Canyon.  It is the deepest canyon in North American at 7,900 feet. 
Shoshone Falls is a major waterfall higher than the famous Niagara Falls

Longitude: 111°W to 117° W
Latitude: 42° N to 49° N
Length: 479 miles
Width: 305 miles
Geographic Center: Southwest of Challis in Custer County at Longitude: 114° 57.4'W Latitude: 44° 15.4'N

Borders: Canada lies to the north.  On the west are both Washington and Oregon.  On the east is Montana and Wyoming and on the south, Idaho borders both Nevada and Utah.

Total Land area: 82,751 square miles
Total Water area: 823 square miles
Total area: 83,574, the 14th largest state in size

Total River Miles: 3,100 miles - the most of any state

The Panhandle of Idaho is only 50 miles wide, while the southern portion is more than 300 miles wide. Each area has a varied type of geography. Forested mountains, large lakes and pastureland are all found in the panhandle area. The Rocky Mountain Ranges are found in much of the north-central area. The Snake River valley has the lowest spot in the state and has spawned several magnificent waterfalls. The Salmon River, sometimes known as "The River of No Return," is rival to the Snake River and eventually joins it south of Lewiston. Some of the larger lakes in Idaho are Coeur d'Alene, Pend Oreille, Priest, Payette Lakes and Bear Lake which is partially in Utah too.


Meriwether Lewis and William Clark crossed over Lolo Pass and entered the Snake River area late in the year of 1805 to become the first recorded people of European decent to traverse what would later become Idaho The first established settlement was for the North West Co. on Lake Pend Oreille by British fur trader, David Thompson. The first permanent settlement was Franklin in 1860, established by migrating Mormon settlers. The Oregon Trail became more and more used after this time as settlers from the east came west. More than 300,000 people came over the Oregon Trail during the 20 years period from 1841 to 1861.

The name of Idaho was not request first by what would become Idaho.  First, it was requested for the area that is now Colorado.  The lobbyist, George, Willing, said the word had an Indian origin meaning gem of the mountains.  The Congress was set to use Idaho, but then found the name was not Indian after all, just made up by Willing.  They decided to name that area Colorado instead.  Idaho began to be used for some small towns and areas.  A gold discoveries began in the mid 1800’s and the area was called the Idaho Mines.  Later, in 1863 when a new territory was created for this area, the Idaho name seemed to be applicable.  Thus, the name for the eventual state had begun.

Lewiston was the first capital. Boise became the capital in 1864. Idaho's major industries are agriculture, forestry, mining, manufacturing and tourism.


Idaho has been known as the “Gem State” mostly because of Willing and the definition he gave to his word, Idaho.  “Gem of the Mountains” is another nickname from the same source. 

Climate and Weather

The northernmost portions of the state tend to have more severe weather than any other part of the state. For instance, Coeur d’Alene, in the panhandle, has over 25 inches of precipitation each year while Twin Falls, in the south has only about 10 inches of precipitation each year.   Summers are warm and dry n southern Idaho.  The state is far enough west to be affected by the Pacific weather patterns.  This helps to keep temperatures from getting extreme during the entire year. 

Average monthly high temperatures: 90.6
Average monthly low temperatures: 15.1
Record high temperature: 118 degrees F. on 28 July 1934 at Orofino
Record low temperature: -60 degrees F. on 16 January 1943 at Island Park Dam



2000 - 1,293,953
2005 - 1,429,096
ranked 39th in population size in 2000
Population density: 15.5 persons per square mile, ranking  44th among the states (2000)

Call for a free color brochure about Idaho
Toll-free: 800-VISIT ID

River Rafting in Idaho
No state has more "whitewater" than Idaho! Experience all 3,000 miles of it!! Call the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association at 208-342-1919 or the Idaho Department of Water Resources Whitewater Recording at 208-327-7865.



Idaho Travel Council
700 West State Street
Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720
Toll-free: (800) 714-3246
Phone: 208-334-2470

Idaho Parks

Government Links page for Idaho
Great links page for all levels of government in Idaho


Travel Guide to Idaho from Online Highways.

Learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition in Idaho


Find the weather for anyplace in the USA


This page was created 29 January 1999

This page was last updated 16 September 2006 at 5:51 pm

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