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Just an hour outside of Boise, is a place likely to blow your mind. Bruneau Dunes State Park, home to the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America, offers a different way to play in Idaho.

Woman hiking sand dune with sand board on her back.
Endless blue sky views at Bruneau Dunes State Park.

Like a kid, you can go out and play for hours on the dunes, getting sand everywhere and there’s no age limit here. It’s best to bring clothes and shoes you don’t mind filling with sand. Once you climb to the top of the highest dune, you’ll be amazed at the views. From the vantage point you can see the lake below, the Snake River canyon, and the snow-capped mountains off in the distance.

When it comes to getting down the dune, if you’re up for the challenge, sandboarding can up the ante on fun. For $25 you can rent two sandboards and play for the whole day. Despite the familiarity with snowboarding, the feel of sand gliding across your board is a lot less slippery than snow. Prepare for some humorous falls, because sandboarding takes a while to get used to.

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Man sandboarding down sand dune.
Test out your sandboarding skills in this scenic setting.

After a day on the dunes, a good camp dinner is in order. The dessert to this meal is the stargazing. Light pollution here is non-existent so the stars put on an all-night show that is sure to inspire your inner astronaut. If you want to get a closer look at the night sky, you’ll want to head over to the Bruneau Dunes Observatory where you can scope out those stars up close using the telescopes available.

Stars over a van.
The night sky in Bruneau is stunning.

A stay in the Bruneau Dunes State Park campground means a good night of peaceful sleep. The background noise in this environment is only what mother nature provides. But rest easy because more adventures await at dawn. Waking up and hiking over the dunes to watch the sun rise is just another bonus about this place. Experiencing a sunrise with sand between your toes is highly therapeutic. And don’t forget, there’s a six-mile self guided trail that has amazing views if you’re looking for another way to experience the park. The good news here is it’s a circle so you can do the whole six miles or shorten it as you need. It’s an easy way to spend the day exploring.

 A couple looks into the Bruneau Canyon at sunset.
Enjoy beautiful sunsets at Bruneau Canyon overlook.

For adventure beyond the state park, take a 30 minute drive to the Bruneau Canyon Overlook.  The drive takes you down a long dirt road. Do not let this deter you because once you hit the only right turn (marked with a sign) you will end up at the edge of a gorgeous 800 foot deep canyon.  Immerse yourself in what can safely be called ‘the middle of nowhere’. You can see the Owyhee Mountains in the distance and the Bruneau River below, snaking through the deep, rugged canyon. The breathtaking views here will leave you in awe and catching a sunset in the canyon is well worth the drive.

The Bruneau area has it all – from desert landscape to deep canyons.  It is quiet place, away from it all, and just another Idaho gem waiting to amaze you.

This is a sponsored post.

All photos, including feature image, provided by John Webster.

John Webster is an adventure photographer based in Boise, ID. You can usually find him out on one of Idaho’s classic rivers or snowboarding powder fields. For more of his work go to www.webstermediahouse.com.


Published on May 5, 2016