Ascending Lemhi Pass in August 1805 just west of the headwaters of the Missouri River, American pathfinder, William Clarke of the Corps of Discovery expected to see a vast river plain stretching all the way to the Pacific. Instead he was confronted with range after range of uncharted mountains – the rugged, brutal landscape we now know as Idaho.
Famous for not being particularly famous, the nation's 43rd state is a pristine wilderness of Alaskan proportions that gets rudely ignored by most of the traffic heading west to Seattle or east to the more famous parks of Montana. In truth, much of this lightly trodden land is little changed since the days of Lewis and Clark including a vast 15,000-sq-km 'hole' that's in the middle of the state and bereft of roads, settlements, or any other form of human interference.
Flatter, dryer southern Idaho is dominated- by the Snake River, deployed as a transport- ation artery by early settlers on the Oregon Trail and tracked today by busy Hwy 84. But, outside of this narrow populated strip, the Idaho landscape is refreshingly free of the soulless strip-mall, fast food infestations so ubiquitous elsewhere in the US.
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Idaho destination guides
Sun Valley: Idaho's idyllic year-round playground
Half-hidden in central Idaho amid wild gothic mountains and lightly trodden wilderness lies an important piece of ski history. Sun Valley became the US’s first destination ski resort when it opened on the eve of the 1936 Bavarian Winter Olympics (the first to include alpine skiing as an event).
Hold tight: the world's best rafting rivers
Zip up your wetsuit, cinch your helmet: we bring you the biggest, baddest and raddest rivers for rafting the world over – and all guided commercially for your convenience. Sun Kosi River, Nepal Raft negotiating the 'Meatgrinder' rapid on Sun Kosi River. Image by Anders Blomqvist / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images.