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Turn the Lights Out When You Leave (The City) Things to do at Bruneau Dunes State Park

1. Star Gazing

Bruneau Dunes State Park is famed for their incredible night sky clarity. Because of the pristine star gazing opportunities, they are actively seeking certification as a Dark Sky Park through the International Dark Sky Association. Far from the light pollution of the city, the way that Bruneau’s night sky illuminates the surrounding desert is awe-inspiring.

Not to mention, they have Idaho’s only public telescope: a vast, 25-inch Newtonian Scope inside their Observatory, which was built in conjunction with the Boise Astronomical Society. The Observatory consists of two buildings—The Observatory itself, and the Steele-Reese Education Center. The entire main Observatory building is on a rotation system with a retractable roof, meaning that while the scope tracks the planets, the entire building will rotate around you. “The Observatory is on a motor-driven caster system that allows the building to rotate as the telescope tracks celestial bodies through the night sky,” explains Assistant Park Manager, Bryce Bealba.

The Steele-Reese Education Center hosts captivating indoor presentations in their two auditoriums. They frequently have guest speakers and renowned astronomers, detailing their knowledge of the stars and solar system around us.

Photo Credit: Randy Davis

2. Astronomy Presentation

- Prior to sunset, park staff give visitors the opportunity to see the sun close-up through a solar telescope specifically designed for safe solar viewing. Visitors can see for themselves the marvels and activity of the life-giving star whose energy and warmth we enjoy each day.

- Afterwards, visitors can join Park Astronomers in the Education Center where they can learn about various nightly topics during a family friendly program. This 30-45 minute indoor program gives your eyes time to adjust to lower light, allowing you to get the most out of your experience when you hit the scopes.

- After the program, Astronomers typically set up several telescopes (as well as the main 25” scope) so that visitors can choose what object they would like to see. Each scope is manned by a knowledgeable astronomer eager to answer any questions that may come to mind.

Photo Credit: Doug Stoneback

3. Guided Scorpion Walks

An added bonus is the chance to attend one of their many “Scorpion Hikes.” These short, guided walks in the desert often yield the chance to view one of our three native scorpion species that are easily located using a black light. These lights make the exoskeletons of the scorpion glow a vibrant “alien green.” But don’t be afraid, the scorpions are shy and somewhat docile. The rare sting of our scorpions has been described as similar to that of a bee. Hiking with our Park Guide gives the visitor an opportunity to view and learn about these amazing creatures at a safe distance.

4. Sandboarding.

A fun activity for any season! Sandboards are available to rent from the Visitor Center for only $15 a day!

5. Hiking

There are miles of hiking trails, two beautiful lakes with great fishing, an equestrian campground, various mixtures of RV and tent sites, an unfenced off-leash dog park, kite sales, and giant sand dunes that talk to you if you listen close.

Listen to the dunes grumble as the sand shifts underneath. It’s a truly miraculous experience.

Bruneau Dunes State Park is a great place for solitude. Escape to the trails and experience all of the adventure, exploration, education, and inspiration of one of Idaho’s most famed state parks.