Idaho's Natural Wonders

Bruneau Dunes Idaho State Park

The Treasure Valley offers no shortage of area activities and destinations that are sure to astound, teach, and entertain. However, surrounding the Boise area, the opportunities for outdoor enjoyment exponentially broaden. There is much to discover in Southwestern Idaho that is sure to keep visitors and residents alike busy exploring, taking weekend adventures, going on road trips, and enjoying some of the territory’s top destinations. Southwestern Idaho is home to some of the most astonishingly beautiful rolling sand dunes that may be found in the greater Northwest. Complimenting the existential list of area activity options in the Treasure Valley, traveling around 65 +/- miles to Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park from the Boise area, leads to a true desert paradise.

Entering the Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park, visitors may notice that there are several options for camping accommodations as well as the Bruneau Dunes State Observatory, which is home to a solar 25-inch Newtonian Reflector telescope, ideal for opportunities to get a better glimpse of the starry night’s sky. Continuing further into the park and welcoming guests, are a few of the smaller dunes that eventually lead to the dune lake picnic area. The Bruneau Dunes Picnic Area boasts magnificent scenic views of the largest dune and makes for an excellent opportunity to unpack the picnic basket.

The largest dune in Bruneau Dunes State Park towers to the soaring height of 470 feet and boasts scenic views across the tops of the oasis-like turquoise waters of the two tree-lined lakes below. Each of the lakes is encompassed by tall grasses and attracts a multitude of area birdlife. The dunes make for an idyllic location for enjoying an evening sunset while surrounded by 4800 acres of dunes and space. Although still considered a type of temporary mountain, unlike all other dunes in North America, the Bruneau Sand Dunes sit in the center of a natural basin rather than along the edge and are least likely to roam with the force of the wind. Although the wind velocity and direction are constantly adjusting the dunes, the Bruneau Sand Dunes have remained fairly stable in size and location for 12,000 years of sand coming and going at its leisure. From the top of the dunes, climbers and sand boarders traverse the ridgeline overlooking more than a desert, rather a marshland, lakeshore, and prairie acreage. All ages and abilities can enjoy the dunes and their majesty and the accompanying wildlife. This is a natural beauty that is sure to wow with its constant natural change.

In the midst of Owyhee County’s pristine desert sits a well-equipped campground with over 120 campsites. The campground is an all-access point for the Bruneau Dunes State Observatory and via sand trail or paved road for the base of North America’s tallest single structured sand dune. Whether wanting to rough it or stay at a home away from home, each camper has the amenities and wide-open spaces to enjoy this site. Trees and grass surround most campsites, allowing for prime outdoor enjoyment and perhaps the opportunity to stay up and check out the stars. Activities surrounding the campground and dunes include visitors climbing up and rolling down the hills, kites flying towards the clouds from the ridge, observing fish, birds, and reptiles of all kinds in their natural habitat, horse-back riding, stargazing, and floating and fishing in the small lakes, especially known for Bass and Bluegill. Spring break, summer vacation, weekend getaways, day trips to the sand dunes are filled with so many activities.

A favorite rest stop for many is the visitor center with the weekend-operating Bruneau Dunes State Observatory, allowing access to more than just earthly attractions. March through October, the 25-inch Newtonian Reflector telescope, “Obsession,” is used to observe the skies’ greatest attractions, and a 30-minute presentation in the education center enlights and delights visitors of all types.

St. Anthony Sand Dunes

A sea of windblown white quartz sand sprawls out across the plains of Southeastern Idaho at St. Anthony Sand Dunes.

Extending across 10,000+ acres, the dunes are delicately stacked on top of one another. Delightfully surrounded by tall green grasses and desert vegetation, this gorgeous location is illuminated by the captivating waters of Egin Lakes and decorated with three conveniently located campgrounds. This massive playground of sand dunes is said to boast extraordinary dunes that reach heights of over 400 feet. On any given day, this mesmerizing location is home to drifting grains of sand that tumble down the slip face of the dunes in a magnificent presentation of wave-like motions offering a daily windswept performance. When the winds pick up a significant amount of sand takes flight in a spectacle that is described as a frenzy of countless particles of sand whirling into the air and blanketing the pathway below as it returns to earth. Located around 40 +/- miles from the Idaho Falls region and around 300 +/- miles from Boise, Idaho, visitors travel from near and far to enjoy the possibilities of all that may be found at this unique location.

Taking in some of the best that St. Anthony Sand Dunes has to offer could mean simply carving out a break from the normalcy of the week and unwinding while delighting in the surroundings. Additionally, capturing some of all that this area has to offer may mean preparing the sand toys for a day of area exploration and adventures. This treasure trove of outdoor activity opportunities is waiting for anyone and everyone who enjoys taking to the outdoors, hiking, backpacking, sandboarding, sand sledding, photography, equestrian use, fat biking, grinding through a supercharged workout, or possibly a revolutionary method of experiencing the dunes and exploring new terrain. Sifting through the sun-soaked sand unveils a cool layer of hidden sand beneath, ideal for those who enjoy unearthing a bit of soft surface loam. When the wind isn’t blowing across the region, the calm waters of Egin Lakes that sit adjoining the dunes, present a mirror-like presence, showcasing a stunning reflection of any clouds that may be suspended above. The lakes span across 31.2 acres and offers the chance for supreme water enjoyment. Home to the Sand Mountain BLM Wilderness Study Area, this destination plays an important part in wintering wildlife including moose, deer, as well as one of Idaho’s largest herds of elk.

St. Anthony Sand Dunes is one of Idaho’s hottest locations for sparking the interest of ATV/UTV users, drawing visitors by the thousands. Smashing out a run on some of the cleanest loam or unleashing the potential found at Devil’s Dune is simply the beginning of all the fun found at St. Anthony Sand Dunes. Fired-up adventure enthusiasts dial in their gear in anticipation to embark on some of the most spectacular hill climbs, fierce berms, and inspiring spaces to open up and revel in letting loose on some of the best runs found in Southern Idaho. Whether conquering the gnarly loose sands of Thunder Mountain, fueling up to shred the intensely steep ascents of Choke Cherry Hill, or freeriding the waves of sand to Dead Horse Bowl, discover huge air and open skies at St. Anthony Sand Dunes of Idaho.

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