Bruneau Wild and Scenic River
The Bruneau Wild and Scenic River flows north through the deep, rocky canyons of southwestern Idaho’s Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness Area. The West Fork of the Bruneau joins the Jarbidge River to form the main Bruneau River—a unique web of remote and rugged waterways. From placid pools to turbulent whitewater, from vertical cliffs to steep, grassy slopes, the rivers and their canyons challenge visitors with the extraordinary. Here, one can experience unsurpassed solitude and beauty, or discover the thrill of an unrivaled rafting adventure along the ever-changing rapids.
Visitors may glimpse elusive California bighorn sheep climbing the canyon walls. Pronghorn, deer, elk, sage-grouse, and chukar all thrive in the sagebrush habitat, while the water is home to river otters, beaver, and redband trout. The rare wildflower Bruneau River phlox is a river canyon beauty that is found nowhere else.
Twelve million years ago volcanism in the Bruneau-Jarbidge area formed an oval basin 60 miles long and 30 miles wide. Multiple lava flows and explosive eruptions occurred as the Earth’s crust slowly migrated and melted over an intense hotspot. About two million years ago, rivers slowly began to carve out the extraordinary canyons visible today, brilliantly showcasing pages in Earth history.
Nearly 40 floatable miles of the Bruneau River and portions of the West Fork Bruneau River and Jarbidge River were designated as wild and scenic rivers in March 2009. The same designation created the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness Area from the surrounding uplands. Today, this 90,000-acre area and the wild and scenic river segments are managed as part of the Bureau of Land Management’s National Landscape Conservation System (also known as National Conservation Lands).
Photo by Bob Wick, BLM