Bruneau-Jarbridge Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

The Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area is an extensive BLM property that covers land in three different states. The area encompasses a total of over ninety-thousand acres reaching into parts of Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada. The wilderness has a varied landscape, ranging from steep-sided gorges carved by the force of the rivers that flow through them, to vertigo-inspiring cliffs, to gently sloping hills and verdant plateaus covered in wildflowers. The waterways in the wilderness are as varied in nature as the scenery they run through, too, and you'll find everything there from raging whitewater to tranquil pools.


While it is remote and some parts are definitely not the easiest places in the world to access, the Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area has just about got it all when it comes to truly exciting outdoor adventure activities - except somewhere to pitch camp in your RV. That's not too much of a problem though, as you'll be able to find campgrounds not too far away in both the Bruneau Dunes State Park and the Sawtooth National Forest. There are also multiple other pitches in KOAs and privately managed campgrounds around the city of Twin Falls.


Once you've hiked through some of the Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area or been kayaking over the rapids, there's a lot more around Twin Falls, and in the surrounding area, that you won't want to miss on your RV vacation in Idaho. From seeing stunning waterfalls to climbing America's highest sand dune, relaxing in thermal springs, visiting museums displaying skeletons of mammoths, or viewing the unforgettable Evel Knievel's jump site over the Snake River. Whatever you do, you'll have an incredible and unforgettable time in this beautiful part of the country.

RV Rentals in Bruneau-Jarbridge Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

If the reason you're heading to the Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area is to go hiking or kayaking, one of the best spots to access the area is via the small town of Bruneau. From Twin Falls, Bruneau is a further two hours drive along the I 84 followed by fifteen miles along the twisting Hot Springs Road. While the drive is scenic and passes between the Bruneau Dunes State Park and the Snake River Birds of Prey Area, it's not a route to tackle in a big rig. Fifteen miles down the Hot Springs Road, you'll encounter the kiosk of the wilderness ranger and three miles further on, the parking lot for the Bruneau Canyon Overlook. For rafters and kayakers, rangers for the area recommend hiring a driver who knows the area and how to get to the easiest access points for getting your craft in the water.


If you're traveling to the Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area after exploring the Craters of the Moon National Monument, another BLM property in Idaho, the trip to Twin Falls will take you around two hours. After packing up your camp in the Great Salt Lake State Park in Utah, the journey on to Twin Falls will take you around three and a half hours. It's decent motoring all the way along the I 84 westbound until you're through the city and onto the trickier roads. If you're in a big rig, the best plan of action is to park up at your chosen campground and use a smaller vehicle to access the wilderness.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Bruneau-Jarbridge Wilderness

Campsites in Bruneau-Jarbridge Wilderness

Alternate camping

Lake Cleveland

While Lake Cleveland in the Sawtooth National Forest may be two hours' drive from Bruneau, there are two great campgrounds there that will give you the chance to add more diverse activities to your Idaho camping trip.

If you have a large rig, you'll find the Lake Cleveland East Side Campground has the seventeen most suitable campsites. The nine pitches at the Lake Cleveland West Side Campground are better for smaller wagons and anyone who isn't towing a trailer.

If heading out to the Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area was a last-minute decision and you haven't made a reservation, don't worry. Both the east and west campgrounds have campsites available on a first-come-first-served basis. Once you're pitched, you'll be able to enjoy hiking, boating, and fishing.

Bruneau Dunes State Park

The campground at the Bruneau Dunes State Park is one of the closest you'll find to the Bruneau River region of the Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area. It's a large campground with almost a hundred campsites, over eighty of which are fitted with both water and electricity hook-ups. The campground can cater to RVs up to fifty feet in length and is open all year round.

The campground is pet-friendly though pet owners should be aware that during the height of the summer months there is little shade on the campground and temperatures can be very high. During the winter months, the on-site water supply is closed off, so if you're heading that way after the end of October make sure you're fully stocked with enough for your stay.

Seasonal activities in Bruneau-Jarbridge Wilderness

In-Season

Sand Boarding

Although Idaho is a landlocked state and not somewhere you'd expect to find sand dunes, it is in fact where the tallest dune in the US is located. At just under five-hundred feet, the staggering mass of sand occupies a big part of the Bruneau Dunes State Park.

There are two ways to explore the dune. The first is on foot by hiking up and over it and the second by sliding down it on a sandboard. If you want to give sand boarding a go but haven't got a board, you can rent one from the park's visitor center.

The Herret Center

While in Twin Falls make a visit to the Herret Center for Arts & Science and under one roof, you'll find thirty-five thousand artifacts, a planetarium, and a contemporary art gallery. In the museum galleries, you can browse exhibits relating to ancient Idaho, past technology, fossils and the tusked skeleton of the Huntingdon Canyon Mammoth.

Evel Kneival Jump Monument

Visit the Evel Knievel Jump Monument on the Snake River just outside of Twin Falls, and it will really give you food for thought. It's from that spot that America's most famous stuntman attempted and failed to fly across the mile-wide canyon on a rocket-powered motorcycle.


Stand by the edge, and you'll not only be awe-inspired by the scenery but mind-boggled at Evel's bravado. It may well also leave you asking that unanswerable question – why on earth would he want to do that?

Waterfall Viewing

The region around the Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area has some of the most scenic waterfalls in the US. After you've seen the impressive, but arid, canyon-scapes around Bruneau, head into Twin Falls to the Shoshone Falls Park to see the Niagara of the West.

The Shoshone Falls are a one-thousand-foot wide multi-cascade waterfall on the Snake River and absolutely stunning to see when they're in full flow in the Spring. You can see more falls, though not so big, in the Thousand Springs State Park in the Malad Gorge and at Niagara Springs.

Hiking

Hiking in the Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area is not for the faint-hearted. Park up at the Bruneau Canyon Overlook, then step out on the five-mile-long Bruneau Canyon Rim Trail, but take a few deep breaths as you do. On one side, you'll have a thousand foot drop down to the river at the bottom of the canyon. The views are impressive, but it's best to take a rest stop to appreciate them, so you know exactly where you're going when you put one foot in front of the other.

Whitewater Rafting

The section of the Bruneau River running through the Bruneau-Jarbridge Rivers Wilderness Area is a major attraction for fans of whitewater rafting. The one frustration is getting craft in and out of the water. Enter at the higher regions of the river, and you'll have fifty-plus miles of river ahead, not much of it very easy.

Moderate rides can be had through the Hot Springs Creek and the Five Mile Rapids, while the more difficult sections with grades ranging from II, III, and IV for experienced rafters are to be found in the lower parts of the river.