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Idaho may remain a largely rural state, but its capital, Boise, has become the biggest American Rocky Mountains metropolitan area outside of Colorado. This northwest state, most famous for its potatoes and its Sun Valley ski resort, is divided into two distinct regions. Logging is the dominant industry in northern Idaho’s rural and mountainous panhandle, while more populous southern Idaho is primarily a flatter farming region.
Numerous opportunities to obtain a rental vehicle are available at not only Boise Airport, but most of the smaller Idaho airports, including Sun Valley’s nearby Friedman Memorial Airport and Idaho Falls Regional Airport. Northern Idaho visitors may find it convenient to get their vehicles at Spokane International Airport before driving the 20 miles east to Idaho’s border. All intending travellers would benefit from taking the time to compare car hire before they leave home. Companies represented include Avis, Budget, Thrifty and many others.
No international flights are currently offered at Boise Airport, Idaho’s biggest, or Spokane International Airport, the nearest airport to northern Idaho’s biggest city, Coeur d'Alene. The smaller Idaho Falls Regional Airport is a common air gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Car rental in Idaho is a necessity in most parts of this state whose only public transportation is a late night stop along Amtrak's Empire Builder rail route in the tiny panhandle community of Sandpoint.
North and south Idaho are linked by only two major roads, Idaho State Highway 55 and US 95. I-84 is Boise’s main interstate highway, while I-15 passes through Idaho Falls and Pocatello. Interstates 15 and 84 are connected by the much shorter I-86. I-90 through Coeur d'Alene is northern Idaho’s only major interstate highway. Idaho’s numerous rural two-lane roads, many of which are unpaved, become even more treacherous in winter. Journeys with car hire in Idaho between the state’s northern and eastern regions often require detours through Montana or Boise.
Idaho’s main tourist attractions are its diverse rural landscapes. The Pacific Northwest’s unofficial playground, Coeur d'Alene, attracts countless golfers to its four-star namesake resort in summer and skiers to the nearby Silver Mountain Ski and Summer Resort in winter. Two of Idaho’s most unique roadside landmarks are Cottonwood’s Dog Bark Park’s giant canine and the world’s biggest potato chip, part of Blackfoot’s Idaho Potato Expo.
Idaho’s climate varies as much as its terrain. The Pacific Ocean may lie 350 miles from the western part of the state, but maritime influence nonetheless makes western winters here milder than those in the east, yet temperatures still commonly drop below freezing. Eastern Idaho experiences drier winters and more summer rain than the western area. However, Idaho’s weather is always unpredictable no matter the season, especially in mountainous regions. Summer temperatures can soar to 38°C.