Bruneau State Park
You put your hands on your knees and inhale, trying to catch your breath. You look up.. You consider giving up but you turn around and gaze at how far you've come. The sight of your footsteps in the sand gives you the determination to keep going.
Finally, you are almost there. The closeness of your destination gives you the energy to finish. You reach the top. You’re out of breath and your heart is racing as you gaze out in the distance. Your breath catches again, but this time it’s not out of exhaustion, rather, the beauty around you. Hills of sand stretches for miles. The sun touches the earth with glorious light. This is why you climbed to the top. And it was worth it.
Rising at 470 feet, Bruneau Sand Dunes is home to the tallest single-structure sand dune in North America. These dunes are believed to have start forming about 15,000 years ago, and it’s also believed that they’ll remain there for at least another 15,000 years. These dunes were made into a national park for all to enjoy the many activities there.
There are a variety of activities available at the Bruneau. For serious hikers, there is a six mile hiking trail that begins at the visitors center, bends around the lake, and then trails to the top of the tallest sand dune. If you are wanting a less vigorous work out, there are several shorter trails you can take to the top of the sand dunes. There are also bike trails accessible, as well as horse trails. If you happen to bring horses, there are also carrels that can be rented.
The most popular activity at the sand dunes is sand sledding. There are sleds that can be rented, or you can bring your own. There is nothing flying down the sand with the feeling of the wind through your hair. You can slide down the hill and then climb up and do it again, and again.
People also love just playing in the readily available sand: burying each other, building sand castles, having sand wars, or simply walking barefoot and feeling the sand between their toes.
The endless amount of sand was formed by the constant wind that swirls in the basin. The wind that formed the sand dunes continues to blow, keeping the dunes from slowly disappearing. The wind is essential for keeping the dunes alive, but it can be used for fun as well. This wind is perfect for flying kites. It is common to see kites in the distance, being flown from the top of a sand dune.
Sand isn't the only thing at Bruneau for a day of fun. In between two of the the sand dunes, there is a small lake that is perfect for a day of fishing. There are ramps in the water for electric motor boats to fish from, or you could just fish off the shore.
In addition to the day activities, Bruneau State park also has an observatory. Because of the lack of light pollution, Bruneau is the perfect place for stargazing. Like the sand, the stars are endless. You could watch the stars with your naked eyes and bask in the glory of the sky. Or you could examine the stars closer with the largest reflector telescope in Idaho. This 25 inch telescope is perfect for getting a closer look at the stars. There are several other smaller telescopes as well.
Not only is Bruneau a fun place for us humans, but it’s also a home for a variety of different wildlife. Some of the wildlife that live there include coyotes, rabbits, lizards, scorpions, ducks, geese, kestrels, hawks, and herons, just to name a few.
There are over more than a dozen campsites around Bruneau. You could camp at Bruneau or a little drive down the road, you can find two more campsites: Eagle Cove and Broken Wheel where they provide hot showers and electrical hook-ups. If you want to be a little cozier, there are also 2 cabins nearby that you can rent. All of these campsites are available year round.
There are many other places that can be explored nearby the Bruneau Sand dunes. These are the Bruneau Canyon Overlook, CJ Strike Wildlife Management Area, Silver City historic mining town, Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, and Owyhee National back country Byway.
Whether you are visiting for a day or for a week, Bruneau State park holds something for everyone, between a relaxing day of fishing, playing in the sand, or watching the stars. Whatever you choose to do, if you put effort into it, it will be worth it.