things to do in idaho

RightTurn’s Road Trip Destinations Series: Idaho

Idaho isn’t just the land of the potato, even though being a carb guy, that’s a pretty good selling point for me. But it turns out this state is a real gem. So much so that it got its moniker the “Gem State” because nearly every type of gem has been found all across the entire state. Idaho has scenic byways and backcountry drives sure to give you an eyeful of a truly unique state. And sometimes getting lost is the best way to get to someplace you’ve never been. Here are five things to do in Idaho!

Center of the Universe

Since the Big Bang billions of years ago, the universe is said to be expanding. It’s also around 10 billion light years in diameter. And if we’re talking diameter, then that means there’s a center. I remember that from geometry class (thanks a lot, Euclid.). It’s strange to think about such an incomprehensibly large-sized thing to have a center. But the mayor of Wallace, Idaho declared that the center of the universe is in his tiny town of 784 citizens in 2004. The claim was made sarcastically since the EPA deemed that its silver mining caused pollution to the soil and water citing probabilism: if it can’t be disproven, then it must be proven. The mayor simply urges non-believers to prove it isn’t the center of the universe. A manhole cover signifies its place in the universe with a nod to its previous claim of being the silver capital of the world. A friendly, unique, and safe place to visit, Wallace will warm your heart and make you feel dare I say…centered.

Idaho Potato Museum

Where else would you celebrate the agricultural phenomenon that is the potato? Well in Blackfoot, Idaho, at the Idaho Potato Museum! Not only will you learn about all things potato from nutrition to potato care, but you can also view the world’s largest potato chip. This ginormous crisped spud slice is 25 inches long and 14 inches wide and contains about 920 calories, way more than a typical serving size. But it was made in 1991, so please don’t eat it. I just feel like there’s a Forrest Gump-esque opportunity for tour guides to list the versatility of the potato: baked potatoes, hash brown potatoes, potato pancakes, scalloped potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, potatoes au gratin…

Experimental Breeder Reactor–I

In Butte County, the world’s very first nuclear power plant is open to visitors. That’s right, the Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 Atomic Museum allows you to see four nuclear reactors and learn about what splitting atoms can do. The facility operated for twelve years starting in 1951. The first experiment was to see if four lightbulbs could be lit using nuclear reactions. Since the success of that experiment, the breeder reactor powered its entire building with its own tiny nuclear core. The breeder reactor’s main purpose was to produce more fuel than it consumed.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Some of the best places to visit aren’t ones with glorious manmade structures or flashy lights. Sometimes Mother Earth just works her magic and suddenly we have a sight we can’t quite comprehend. Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve in Arco is a geologic formation resulting from major volcanic eruptions that took place thousands of years ago. The visitor center has plenty of exhibits that are informative including films and walking tours. You can hike North Crater Flow Trail or take in the view of the 7-mile loop. This is the perfect trip for the entire family to get a great perspective on the majesty of earth’s natural occurrences.

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Shoshone Ice Caves

Idaho has a wide representation of Native American tribes that have inhabited various areas of the state. With such strong ties to the land, these tribes have not gone unrecognized. Closely located to Crater of the Moon, and down a ways along the Snake River, you can delve deep down into the Shoshone Ice Caves that were also formed by volcanic eruptions and shifts in the geological forms. 100 feet under the lava reveals a cave 1700 feet long and 50 feet wide and despite the hot temperatures outside, the caves stay between 23–33 degrees Fahrenheit. Inside you will learn of the historical significance to its Native American ancestors including visually inspecting artifacts, gems, and minerals.

Not sure where we’ve been? You can always search “Road Trip Destinations Series” in the search bar at the top of the blog to find out. Idaho? I say IdaGO!