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Arts & Culture

Here We Have Idaho: How Would You Draw A Map Of Our State?

Tom Michael
Boise State Public Radio
We know you can do a better and more accurate job of drawing the state than this mug. (Really mug?! That's where you think Twin Falls is?!)

Where does North Idaho start? How about eastern Idaho? Are there cultural and geographical lines that separate our state or is it something else?

Recently, a few of us got in a friendly newsroom argument about how to dissect the state by region. So we figured it’d probably be a good idea to hear from you. 

Whether you’re a native Idahoan, someone who’s been here for a while or even if you just moved here last week, how do you think the state is split up?

The holiday season is a great time to get together with family to work on a map together, or you could each come up with your own and compare (maybe ridicule?) your brother’s or sister’s.

We’ve thrown together a map that has a few towns and cities included for you to use, or if you’re an artist (or even if you’re not), feel free to outline Idaho yourself. We suggest you download and print off the map, then break out your pens/colored pencils/markers and have fun with it! Whether it’s using actual physical boundaries like rivers or mountains, directions like north or east, or even political and cultural differences, divvy up sections of Idaho as you think they exist.

Once you’re done, tweet us a photo of your map at @KBSX915 or attach it in an email by Jan. 2, 2019: jdawson@boisestate.edu

We don’t want to influence your answers, but if you’re having a tough time and need some inspiration, here are some maps that we came up with:


Credit James Dawson / Boise State Public Radio

I’m the resident guy in the newsroom who makes a distinction between north central and North Idaho. Being born and raised in Lewiston, I think North Idaho starts at the Benewah and Latah County border, while the Palouse, Camas Prairie, Clearwater Valley and the Lewis-Clark Valley all have our own vibe.

I’m also a fan of the Pacific Time Zone and early sunrises instead of late sunsets, so the Time Zone Bridge had to make the cut.

Also, I’m sorry in advance for my drawings that only the parent of an elementary school student could love. -James Dawson

Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

I decided to make two maps: one that’s more of a mood board associated with different ecological or cultural elements, and another with black lines depicting where I think certain regions begin and end. 

On both maps I included a place that’s not in Idaho. I grew up in Missoula, MT and my only experience of the Gem State as a kid was in the North Idaho. So much of my views about the state were shaped by that worldview. I knew Idaho for its Northwoods forests and deep blue lakes (Pend Oreille specifically), and for the independent spirit among folks who lived in the panhandle. 

Credit Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

As an adult I learned about things south of Sandpoint: The Capitol City’s politics and cultural vibrancy (and why everyone seems to be moving to Boise), key industries like dairy farming and ranching in sage grouse country and the ecological and geographic diversity of the desert-to-mountains terrain. I also outlined cities on the pictorial map by the redness vs. blueness of their politics. 

As far as how I divvy up the state using directions, my Missoula background informs that as well. I’ve heard some people who live in southwest Idaho say that anything north of McCall is “North Idaho” (really?!) but I argue that North Idaho doesn’t start until St. Maries. Don’t @ me.  - Frankie Barnhill


More mapping #inspo from the Boise State Public Radio newsroom
Credit Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio
Our Guns & America reporter Heath Druzin makes some tongue-in-cheek points about both the geography and the cultural dynamics of the state in his map.
Credit Norm Gunning / Boise State Public Radio
Our star newsroom volunteer Norm Gunning clearly makes his argument that "North Idaho" begins halfway between McCall and Lewiston.