The Bruneau River was named by French Canadian explorers in the early 1800s and is a 145-mile-long tributary of the Snake River, originating in the northern Nevada Mountains. Boaters usually run the Bruneau Canyon section that begins at the confluence with the Jarbidge River. This area recently was designated as a Scenic & Wild River by President Obama on March 31, 2009, making it official that both the Bruneau, and the Jarbidge, are national treasures. Some boaters choose to add in the 29-miles of the Jarbidge, a narrow and technical white water stretch that adds a lot of excitement to an already spectacular river trip.
The Bruneau is known as the “Grand Canyon of Idaho,” a free-flowing, undammed river with a wide array of wildlife and a kaleidoscope of wildflowers in the spring. This trip is truly a boaters dream come true with everything from mellow Class II rapids to roaring Class Vs. Rafters should be prepared for everything from snow to glorious spring days, as the season for running this river goes only from May to mid-June.
Boaters can expect to see many varieties of birds, reptiles, beavers, otters, coyote, antelope and big horn sheep. Campsites are usually located on beautiful sandy beaches amongst twisted juniper trees and sage bush.
There are dozens of side hikes and a few opportunities to soak in hot springs. With sheer canyon walls of red rock reminiscent of Bryce and Zion National Parks and the lush riparian environment of the riverside, it is no wonder the Bruneau has also been called the Sistine Chapel of all river canyons.