If you know anything about U.S. geography, you know that the states included in each region can be a little bit fuzzy. To some, the Pacific Northwest includes only Idaho, Oregon, and Washington; to others, it extends, encompassing portions of Alaska, California, Montana, and Wyoming.

For this guide, we will focus on Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Information on California, Washington, and Oregon can be found in our AMO’s Guide to the West Coast. To find out what these three charming and nature laden states have to offer, including their culture and cuisine, continue reading below!

Geography and Climate

Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are all landlocked states in the U.S., meaning they have no coastlines. Instead, the land of these states is sprinkled with mountain ranges, prairies, and forests. Idaho contains parts of the Rocky Mountains, the Snake River and forms a portion of the great basin, making it ideal for farming.

Montana also includes the Rocky Mountains, which serve as a divider between the state and Idaho. The rest of Montana is more open, with most land considered to be prairies. Wyoming has similar landforms but contains larger bodies of water like Jackson Lake and Yellowstone Lakes.

The natural landforms in these states make them attractive tourist destinations for those interested in spending time outdoors. If you do end up visiting the Pacific Northwest, be sure to pack for the season. These states have mild seasons with colder temperatures and larger amounts of snow possible at greater mountains’ altitudes.

Local Culture

Professional sports teams are few and far between these areas, with major league sporting teams being non-existent. There are plenty of ski resorts, hiking trails, fishing ponds, and places to horseback, cycle, or golf for those looking to experience or watch sports and outdoor activities.

Historically, miners visited Montana and Wyoming, searching for diamonds, gold, silver, and other precious gemstones. If you plan to visit either state, you may consider picking up a souvenir made of one of these elements or stones.

In terms of cuisine, Pacific Northwesterners agree that the perfect meal begins with a bowl of white chili, followed by trout or a bison burger, and is complete only after a double scoop of huckleberry ice cream set atop a waffle cone. Like cuisine in the South, cuisine in this region is big on comfort and flavor.

Food isn’t the only thing the Pacific Northwest has in common with the South; both regions have strong ties to the country music scene. While the Pacific Northwest is considered a little more expansive in terms of its music associations, several famous country musicians call the Pacific Northwest home.

Tourist Destinations

    • Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, the first National Park established, runs into Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This park is considered a must-see, with the most noteworthy attractions being the Old Faithful Geyser and the park’s bison herd, which is thought to be the largest in the world. Not only is there a lot to see at Yellowstone, but there is also a lot to do. Although the park is a UNESCO world heritage site, visitors can still camp, bike, hike, fish, and occasionally feed the wildlife on the park’s property.

    • Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

While this trail spans 16 states, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho have the most scenic route. Individuals can elect to hike, run, and bike portions of the trail and are encouraged to make pit stops that align with those Lewis and Clark made during their expedition. There are also portions of the trail where visitors can elect to drive, boat, or kayak should they be short on time or energy.

    • Sun Valley Resort

Located in Idaho, this resort is popular in the summer and winter months for those looking to get away from it all in a scenic and fun location. Visitors can spend their days hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, swimming, or bowling during the summer. During the winter months, visitors might enjoy skiing, ice-skating, or snow-shoeing. After expending all that energy, visitors can recharge for the next day with a delicious dinner at one of the resort’s 20 different restaurants and cafes.

Clinical Experiences

While we are still working to build out the clinical experiences we offer in the Pacific Northwest region, we do offer several clinical experiences in California, which put visitors near Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, making it possible to take a weekend trip to see this exciting and expansive area of the country. Explore clinical experiences in California >

Not sure about California? We offer rotations in other U.S. States too!

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