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Bruneau Dunes State Park, Bruneau

#33 of 54 in Nature in Idaho
Bruneau Dunes State Park is a state park of Idaho, USA, featuring several large sand dunes and two small lakes. The park is located south of Mountain Home, Idaho, outside of Bruneau. The park is the site of North America's highest single-structured sand dune which is approximately 470ft high. (North America's highest multistructured dune is at Great Sand Dune National Park in Colorado and is approximately 660ft higher than its immediate base.) The park is also the site of the Bruneau Dunes Observatory, where visitors can use a telescope for stargazing.Natural historyReportedly the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America rises to 470ft high above small lakes. The dunes at Bruneau Dunes State Park are unique in the Western Hemisphere. Other dunes in the Americas form at the edge of a natural basin. The Bruneau dunes form near the center. The basin has acted as a natural trap for over 12,000 years. The dunes may have started with sands from the Bonneville Flood about 15,000 years ago. The prevailing winds blow from the southeast 28 percent of the time and from the northwest 32 percent of the time, keeping the dunes fairly stable. Unlike most dunes, these do not drift far.Flora and faunaThe state park includes desert, dune, prairie, lake and marsh habitat. Desert wildlife is prominent along with birds of prey and waterfowl. Fishing for bass and bluegill is popular in the park's small lake. Only non-motorized canoes, rafts and float tubes are allowed.RecreationActivities include fishing, birdwatching, camping, hiking, swimming and viewing the stars at the public observatory. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the dunes but climbing and sledding are permitted. There are 7-mile and 9-mile horseback riding trails around the dunes. An educational center offers natural history displays and a gift shop. The astronomical observatory is open Friday and Saturday evenings mid-March through mid-October. Two cabins, 82 RV sites (with water/electricity) and 32 standard sites are available year round in two campgrounds: Eagle Cove Campground and Broken Wheel Campground. An equestrian overnight facility, with corrals, is also available.
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Bruneau Dunes State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 3.5
88 reviews
  • This park is a natural recreation area along the Snake River that features sand dunes and a couple of small ponds. Entrance fee is reasonable at $5/car; camping costs additional. There is a visitor ce...  more »
  • The cost is only $5, which we deposited in an envelope just before the visitor’s center. The visitor’s center is a little on the sad side, taxidermic wildlife displays, small gift shop, a photocopied ...  more »
  • May be the subject of a detour on the way between Boise and Pocatello. The dunes are not yellow as in the Sahara or white as those of White Sands (NM) but light gray. If it s "a little off the track we have a feeling of being away from it all." Good Visitor Center.
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  • I have never seen or experienced dunes like these. Not only is the setting beautiful, the sand forms perfectly created Sahara style dunes. It is soft enough to snowboard on! The main dune is 460 feet high making it massive. Touring these on foot turns into a big hike.
  • Pretty far off the beaten path. The dunes don’t seem to be a place that is often used. There didn’t appear to be tracks or trails for atvs or motorbikes. The park is a state park and has different restrictions and rules then a federal park. The upkeep and the conditions vary from county to county. I prefer the federal parks.
  • The dunes are great and the observatory is an outstanding attraction. The campgrounds are looking run down and poorly maintained - the grass has been allowed to go entirely to weed. The water and power at the campsites are often in odd and impractical locations. Still, it is a nice place to go for early- and late-season camping.
  • Good camping trip for late in the season. Overall it had little shade and camping spots were very close together. Price was higher per night but it had water and power. The down side to camping in October is they close the main bathroom and turn off the water to the campsites.
  • Beautiful desert location where coyotes regularly serenade you in the first morning light. With a black light, you can hunt scorpions that flouresce under black light. Sunrises and sunsets are never ordinary and often downright spectacular. Campgrounds are clean, sites spacious, and free hot showers are a welcome luxury.

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