Why Is Idaho's Time Zone Split Up?

My wife and I took a trip last weekend and yes we got into a conversation on the weird time zones that you cross going from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. 


Why Washington State's Neighbor Has A Messed-Up Time Zone

The confusion is real, y'all, but what's even more confusing is when neighboring states can't seem to agree on what time it is. We noticed the time change when we were outside of Baker City Oregon.

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Case in point: Washington and Idaho, Let's discuss...

While Washington follows the Pacific Time Zone, Idaho is split between the Pacific and Mountain Time Zones.

Say what? Let's dive into why this is such a head-scratcher.

Okay, so here's the deal. The reason Washington State follows the Pacific Time Zone is pretty straightforward: it's on the west coast. That makes sense, right?, but Idaho, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess.


Most of the state is in the Mountain Time Zone, but some counties in the north panhandle follow the Pacific Time Zone.

So, why the split? It all goes back to the concept of standard time and daylight saving time.

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established a standardized system of time zones in the United States but also allowed states to exempt themselves from daylight saving time. We also have the 1918 Standard Time Act.

The division of time zones in Idaho is primarily based on its geographical position and proximity to other states.

The northern part of Idaho, including cities like Coeur d'Alene and Moscow, follows the Pacific Time Zone (PT), which is also observed in neighboring states such as Washington and Oregon.

On the other hand, the southern and eastern parts of Idaho, including cities like Boise and Idaho Falls, follow the Mountain Time Zone (MT), which is also observed in neighboring states such as Montana and Wyoming.


But here's the thing: the split in Idaho creates many problems.

For starters, it can be confusing for anyone traveling through the state. Imagine trying to plan a road trip and having to constantly adjust your itinerary based on what time zone you're in. Not exactly a vacation dream.

Additionally, the split can cause problems for businesses. If you're a company with locations in different parts of Idaho, you have to deal with the hassle of coordinating meetings and schedules across different time zones.

It's a logistical nightmare. And let's not forget about the school systems. Kids in different counties might have different start times based on their time zone, which is just plain bonkers.

So, why can't Idaho just pick a time zone and stick to it like the rest of us?

In contrast, Washington State has had a relatively easy time sticking to the Pacific Time Zone.

Sure, there have been proposals to move the state to the Mountain Time Zone, but for the most part, it's been a non-issue. And when you think about it, it makes sense.


Washington is a coastal state with major cities like Seattle and Tacoma, and following the Pacific Time Zone aligns with the rest of the West Coast. 

At the end of the day, time zones are a strange concept that can cause a lot of confusion but having neighboring states with different time zones just adds more chaos to the mix.

While Washington State has had an easy enough time sticking to the Pacific Time Zone, Idaho's split between time zones creates all sorts of logistical headaches.

Will the state ever be able to come to a consensus? Who knows. But in the meantime, we'll just keep scratching our heads and wondering what time it really is in Idaho.

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