In 2021, Idaho welcomed more than 64,000 new residents. Short of having to brush up on some basic traffic laws to get your Idaho driver’s license, there’s really no “Welcome to Idaho” course you have to complete.

But maybe there should be. If you lived outside Idaho and happened to run cross country, you might think that orange paint on a tree, post or ground was a sign that there was some sort of hazard ahead. We’re about 20 years removed from our cross country career so that may still be true, but in Idaho it could mean something different. 

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If you look through the Idaho Transportation Department’s driver’s license migration data, you’ll see that one of the top eight states sending people to Idaho is Texas. Texas has something called a “purple paint law.” Under this law, an individual can say that others are not welcome on their property by painting purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property. 

YouTube/Whitetail obsession outdoors
YouTube/Whitetail Obsession Outdoors

There are dozens of websites claiming that Idaho also has a “Purple Paint Law” where these purple marks clearly send the message “NO TRESPASSING,” but we couldn’t find a single law or statute verifying that it was true. 

And that’s because it’s actually ORANGE paint that indicates “NO TRESPASSING” in Idaho. Under Idaho Law, private landowners may tell people they're not welcome by marking all property corners and boundaries where the property intersects navigable streams, roads, gates and rights-of-way entering the land with fluorescent orange paint instead of no trespassing signs.  If that private land borders public land, you'll likely see orange paint on the fence posts adjoining the public land.

Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash
Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

Cross into an area marked with orange paint? Well, it could cost you quite a bit! If you're found guilty of criminal trespassing without causing damage, you could face a fine of $300. If you DO cause damage, it's even worse. You're looking at up to six months in jail or a fine anywhere between $1500-$5000. That jail time and fines get worse if you're a repeat offender.

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