Declared a state in 1890 after much political wrangling, IDAHO was the last of the Western regions to be penetrated by white settlers – in 1805, Lewis and Clark described central Idaho’s bewildering labyrinth of razor-edged peaks and wild waterways as the most difficult leg of their epic trek. Though much of its scenery deserves national park status, it has always lacked the major showstoppers (and therefore the crowds) of its neighbouring states, a situation its famously conservative citizens have long been happy to maintain.
Nevertheless, you’d be remiss to skip Idaho; the state capital, Boise, is surprisingly urbane and friendly, but above all, this is a destination for the outdoors enthusiast. The state is laced with incredibly scenic highways, especially through the jaw-dropping Sawtooth Mountains, with Red Fish Lake offering some of the most mesmerizing scenery in the Rockies. Other natural wonders include Hells Canyon, America’s deepest river gorge, and the black, barren Craters of the Moon. Hikers and backpackers have the choice of some eighty mountain ranges, interspersed with virgin forest and lava plateaus, while the mighty Snake and Salmon rivers offer endless fishing and especially whitewater rafting. And you’ll eat well here: the fresh trout is superb, and the state is also known for hops (and therefore microbrews), lamb and of course, fine potatoes.