Although Idaho is famous for potatoes, it’s not dubbed “The Potato State.” No, it’s called “The Gem State” and is one of only two places in the world where you can find star garnet. (The other is India.) We didn’t see any gems, but we did see some other things the state has a reputation for.
Surrounded by towering mountains, Idaho offers a lot of beauty. During our visit, snow capped the peaks, making them that much more attractive — and a boon to skiers. In summertime, people venture to the mountains for hiking, camping, and other outdoor adventures.
Idaho even claims its own glacier, Borah Glacier. It’s part of Mount Borah, the highest peak in the state, soaring 12,668 feet above sea level, according to Sawtooth Mountain Guides.
The state is also known for its numerous waterfalls, some of which are backed by city names: Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Post Falls, and American Falls. Although we visited Twin Falls, inclement weather kept us from venturing to Shoshone Falls to see if they were flowing.
Together, Idaho and Oregon boast North America’s deepest gorge: Hells Canyon, measuring 7,913 feet deep, according to the U.S. Forest Service. We didn’t see that, but we did see the Snake River, which is responsible for Hells Canyon. Aptly named, the Snake River snakes its way from Wyoming, across southern Idaho, and into Washington state before flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
Another thing Idaho is known for is rodeos. The 1900s kicked off the state’s most famous bucking horse competition, the Snake River Stampede. Today, that and the Caldwell Night Rodeo draw fans of all ages.
Although we didn’t witness either of those famous exhibitions, we did take in our first bucking competition as part of the Professional Bull Riders, or PBR, circuit in Nampa. Guys from age 18 to 36 took turns riding bucking bulls to see who could stay on for 8 seconds. A number of them made it. The majority did not.
Those who got bucked off ran from the unhappy beasts to keep from getting hurt, while a trio of U.S. Border Patrol agents distracted the animals to get them away from the riders and through an exit chute. A guy dressed as a clown entertained the crowd between buck-riding attempts.
The show proved entertaining, and we’re glad we got to take part. We look forward to when we can enjoy a rodeo with multiple events.
You may not realize it, but Idaho also hosts an annual Warbird Roundup in August, sponsored by the Warhawk Air Museum. We saw signs for the museum and knew it wasn’t far from where we stayed, so we took advantage of an opportunity to explore it.
The museum has about 15 warbirds on display, including a P-51 Mustang, a couple of MIGs, a T-6 Texan, a biplane, and two P-40s that have movie history. The planes were impressive, as was the wealth of history encased throughout the two-hangar gallery.
We walked among case after case of paraphernalia from Idaho veterans, examined an in-depth Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) exhibit, and learned things we didn’t know about Hitler and the Jews in WWII.
Before we left, a photo of a familiar B-17, “Sentimental Journey,” from the Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona Flying Museum caught our eye. Since we work on and around that plane, seeing it made us feel right at home.
Idaho has much more to offer than scenery, rodeos, and warbirds. It’s also the lentils capital of the world and home to the most hot springs in the U.S., among other things. We’ll have to return when we can spend more time investigating the state’s uniqueness.
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.