Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, making it the 43rd state. As the west was being settled, Idaho was a wilderness through pioneers passed on their way to Oregon. Fort Boise was built on the Oregon Trail for protection from Indians and became a major stop on the route. The city of Boise grew up near there, and is now the capitol of the state. Numerous other towns had their origins as stops along the Oregon Trail.
The Snake River Basin is a major geographical feature of Idaho, which heavily influenced its settlement. The Snake River flows out of Yellowstone National Park, cuts through the mountains on the western border of Wyoming and out into the Snake River Basin. The basin crosses the entire width of the state, and provided an easy route for settlers to pass through this otherwise mountainous region. Much of the basin was covered by lava in ancient times, making a hostile environment, a section of which has been designated the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Other parts of the basin have been covered with fertile soil by the river, and provide farmland and urban areas. At the Oregon border, the Snake River turns north, forming the eastern border of the state until it again turns east and heads into Washington. It joins the Columbia River and flows into the Pacific Ocean.
North of the Snake River Basin lies a vast area of mountains, river valleys and lakes. Visible from the Oregon Trail, some of these were aptly named the Sawtooth Mountains.
Idaho covers 82,747 square miles and is home to just 1,293,953 people (as of 2000). It's only National Park is a sliver of Yellowstone, which is mostly on the Wyoming side of the border, but it covers vast areas of mountains and remote areas ideal for hiking, camping and hunting and sight-seeing.