Idaho Discovery Guide


If you are looking for a real backwoods experience, then you have certainly found it in the River of No Return Wilderness. This large wilderness area in central Idaho is the second largest in the lower 48 states. It is almost untouched land and is set aside to protect the Salmon River drainage area.

It was in this beautiful area that Lewis and Clark traveled with their guide - Sacajewea. There is plenty of hiking trails - over 2600 miles of them that are maintained. Whitewater rafting here is also about as good as it gets. While it is a no structure area, small airports were allowed to remain to provide access to some of the really backwoods areas.

When Lewis and Clark came into this area, they came across the Nez Perce Indian tribe. This group of Indians had been here for many centuries prior to their visit - even before Christopher Columbus. You can see some of their tribal customs, dress, culture, and arts, by visiting the Nez Perce National Historical Park where there is a museum. There are also 38 sites where you can learn more about the Nez Perce Indians, their history, and struggles in ordinary life.

Tourist Hot Spots and Attractions

A place called Hell's Canyon in central Idaho follows the Snake River in the central western border with Oregon. Here you will find the deepest river gorge, created by the river, and with it - a land created just for great outdoor adventure and water sports. Offering tremendous scenery, 8,000 feet below the snowcapped peak of He Devil Peak, you can find some exciting world-class whitewater boating, hiking trails, plenty of wildlife, and even artifacts from Indians, settlers, and miners looking for gold. If you just want to see the greatest views of this area from on top of it, there are two scenic drives that take you by Hell's Canyon and the Seven Devils Mountains. Another scenic route closely traces the path of Lewis and Clark as they traveled through the Nez Perce tribal lands - just follow route 12 through the reservation and follow the Northwest Passage All American Road.

When you decide that you are a little tired of nature's beauty and adventure, then go for a ride on some of the Northwest's finest amusement park rides. Silverwoods is the largest theme park in the Northwest, and it is about 20 miles north of Coeur d'Alene. There are some fantastic rides - more than 65 altogether. Their roller coaster is called Tremors and they also have a drop tower of 140 feet - called the Panic Plunge. Nearby, you will also find the Bulder Beach Water Park that has a new 650-foot water slide. It also now has a second giant wave pool, too.

Idaho is one state that is big on rodeos. Primarily held in the southern part of the state, you can find some kind of rodeo taking place somewhere throughout much of the summer. One set of finals actually takes place as early as March - the Dodge National Rodeo Finals, which are held in Pocatello. The rodeos feature different age groups and level of professionalism. Some are high schoolers, and some are at county fairs - but all are a lot of fun. The Rodeo Finals for the State are held in August.

Unusual geologic formations abound in southern Idaho for those who like to look at and study archeological and geologic formations. There is strong evidence of a massive flood when a natural dam broke because of a large lava flow near Pocatello. This resulted in what is now called the Bonneville Flood and the overflow took place at Red Rock. It was the sudden flow of massive amounts of water that formed the Marsh Creek Valley. A wall of water literally was up to 400 feet high and this eroded the valley to its present level. Red Rock Pass is an attraction that brings geologists and tourists from all over to see the effects of nature at work. There are plenty of places to see fossils in Idaho, too, such as the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.

Another unique place is called Craters Of The Moon National Park. This strange looking large area (over 75 square miles) has been referred to as being some of the strangest looking land on this continent. Due to massive lava flows that took place long ago, you can still see the obvious evidence of it in the forms of cinder cones, lava fields, and lava tubes - caves. You can climb the cones and enter the caves for some really unusual terrain - providing you with a mysterious and unforgettable experience. The caves may be cold enough even in the summer to keep the snow in the caves from melting - and you will need flashlights and be prepared to crawl on your knees or bellies in some of them. There is a seven-mile drive allowing you to see the various cones and other features. If you are a serious hiker and carry water with you, you may want to try hiking in the rather newly established (1970) Craters of The Moon Wilderness just to the south. Check with the rangers first, though, before you enter this barren volcanic area.

Take an exciting computer simulated wagon train ride following the Oregon Trail to the West. Live actors who are dressed in period costume guide this interactive ride. You also take part in a campfire that is within a pioneer wagon train encampment. The center is built on an actual Oregon Trail encampment site. It's all interactive and takes place within the Trail Center near Bear Lake in the southeastern corner of the state. Since it is close to one very popular lake, you can also enjoy its facilities, too.

Unfortunately, not very many of the varied activities of Idaho could be covered in this article. Idaho is also well known for its hunting, with its many varieties of wildlife, including large game animals. Idaho is also a great haven for fishing, too, with its many mountain streams, rivers and lakes, you are sure to find just about all the fish you could want. Besides this, there are many ski areas and lodges, allowing you to be able to take your pick - or ski them all. There are also many historic museums in Idaho, as well as many cultural activities - especially in the southern part of the state.
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