Tourism is an important source of income for Idahoans. Much of the tourist activity in the state is focused on the national forests and units of the National Park Service. During the winter months, skiing and other sports are popular in the mountains. Each year tourists spend $2.1 billion in the state.
Road and rail transportation in and across Idaho has always been difficult, owing to the high, rugged mountains in the central and northern areas of the state and to the canyonlike character of many of the state’s river valleys. Interstate Highway 84 crosses the southern half of the state and follows part of the old Oregon Trail. Interstate 90 follows the old Mullan Road, which was built in the 1860s across the northern half of the state. U.S. Highway 95—much of it two lanes—is the only north-south route spanning the state. Primitive trails provide access to some of the more isolated areas. By 2007 Idaho had 77,918 km (48,416 mi) of highway, including 987 km (613 mi) of the federal interstate highway system.
Railroads played an important role in the development of Idaho, bringing waves of settlers well into the 1930s. Most of the tonnage of goods originating in the state and shipped by rail is composed of farm products (28 percent), nonmetallic minerals (18 percent), and lumber (24 percent). In 2004 Idaho had 2,461 km (1,529 mi) of railroad track. Two major transcontinental railroads cross the state in an east to west direction, and branch lines serve other parts of the state. Water transportation is little used in Idaho except on the Snake River. Lewiston, which is the head of navigation on the river, is connected to Portland, Oregon, near the mouth of the Columbia River by a slack-water navigation system completed in 1975. This system is used primarily to transport grain to Portland for export. Some rivers in Idaho are used to transport logs from logging areas to sawmills.
Air transportation has expanded rapidly in recent years. All major cities in the state have commercial airports and are regularly scheduled airline stops. Air transportation is the only way to reach some of the more remote areas of the state. In 2009 the state had 7 airports, many of which were private airfields. The airport in Boise was the state’s busiest.
Boise, Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Nampa-Caldwell, Twin Falls, Coeur d’Alene, and Lewiston are the principal trade centers in Idaho. Much of northern Idaho’s trade is with nearby Spokane, Washington, while southeastern Idaho lies within the effective trading area of Salt Lake City, Utah. "Idaho" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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