5 lesser-known Idaho facts

June 24, 2015

Think your home-state is the best around? Well—unless you're from Idaho—you'll be thinking twice after you read this. Here are five quick facts that might surprise you about the Gem State.

1. Idaho has better waterfalls than New York
Shoshone Falls, outside Twin Falls, Idaho is actually 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls, earning it the nickname “Niagara of the West.” Water flows over the 1,000 foot wide rim and drops 212 feet to the bottom. That’s tall enough for the Statue of Liberty (without the base) to shower in!

2. Idaho has a cave full of permanent ice in the middle of the desert
Jesus walked on water, and here you can walk over permanently frozen water. Practically the same thing. A few miles north of Shoshone, Idaho—in the middle of the Idaho desert—are the Shoshone Ice Caves. They are hollow subterranean lava tubes that stay cool enough for the ice inside them to remain frozen year round.

3. Idaho has the first town to ever be lit by nuclear power
This one will “spark” your interest. Idaho has a deep history with the field of engineering. In fact, the town of Arco, Idaho became the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power from a reactor called BORAX III, on July 17, 1955.

4. Idaho has the deepest canyon in the US
At around 7,900 feet, Idaho’s Hell’s Canyon is the deepest gorge in the United States, even deeper than the Grand Canyon. Take that Arizona.

5. The origin of the name “Idaho” is still a bit of a mystery
While, at times, it was mistakenly attributed to a Native American term meaning “gem of the mountains,” Idaho’s name may have derived from a town/location in Colorado called Idaho Springs. Interestingly, the political process surrounding the naming of western territories almost created Colorado as the Idaho Territory. Honestly, it would have made Colorado way cooler.

Original image of Shoshone Falls captured by Karthik Chinnathambi and used under Creative Commons license. We added the Statue of Liberty.

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