Hike or sandboard the tallest single structure sand dune in the United States, created during the Bonneville Flood 15,000 years ago.

Set off from the Bruneau Lake parking lot and circumnavigate the lake in a clockwise direction. The hike traverses small rolling dunes before beginning it's ascent of the big dune. The big dune rises 450 feet and it's loose sand is both entertaining to climb as well as a test of patience.

The 360 degree view from the summit of the big dune showcases Bruneau Lake, a cirque formed from sand called The Vortex, as well as many shorter dunes. Proceed along the ridge of the Vortex. Climb to the summit of the next tall dune before dropping straight down it's face to the waters edge. Continue around the lake clockwise until back to the parking area.

The Bruneau Dunes State Park's Visitor Center rents sandboards for $15/day. They also open their solar Observatory to the public free of charge from April to October on Friday and Saturday nights.

Bruneau Dunes has year-round standard, group and equestrian campsites, as well as cabins for rent.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sturdy shoes you don't mind being filled with sand
  • Camera
  • $5 entry fee
  • If camping: camping gear, fees vary by site
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RT Distance 3 Miles
Elevation Gain 470 Feet
Activities Snowboarding, Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Fun To Explore Even With Rain

So last weekend I took the trip from Boise to the Dunes to check it out as it’s my goal to try and knock out 2-4 new adventures per month now that the weather is getting nicer. Once there I was surprised by the actual size of the larger dune as photos make it look way smaller (470ft high). I went on a Sunday in early April and a day with on and off rain showers so it seemed like it kept everyone away (only saw two other groups of people in the parking lot) but this was kind of cool as it allowed me to explore without crowds and made the day a lot more about connecting with nature. If your looking to ditch crowds I would say visit early spring or late fall and on a questionable weather day as it provides a unique experience.

More Than Just A Pile Of Sand

I wasn't really sure what to expect when going to the dunes, but after the first time, I've taken multiple people back to experience them. Not too far from MHAFB, and a cheap day trip! I would recommend going at sunset and just enjoying the view after your climb.


This Idaho State Park is the site of North America's highest single structured sand dune. With an approximate 470 foot incline you might need to take a breather. Hiking in the sand is no easy feat especially with sand getting everywhere. Not a terribly long struggle if you stick with it. Would suggest going in the morning to beat the afternoon heat. I camped around here in late August early September and it was great, not too crowded on a weekend. If you get a chance visit the observatory there too they do tours and it can be pretty cool. That part was a bit more crowded.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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