Thursday, October 7, 2021

Ever tried a Rim-to-Rim hike in the Bruneau Canyon? Four ways to experience the Bruneau River Canyon in SW Idaho

Bruneau River Canyon at low water (courtesy Joanie Fauci)

Hi all, 

A cooler weekend is coming our way here in October, following a bit of rain on Friday. High temperatures near 60 degrees are forecast in Boise, and it'll be much cooler in the mountains. I'm seeing highs in the low 50s in Stanley and lows in the teens! 

Cooler temperatures in the fall always make me think about heading out into the Owyhee Canyonlands for a nice hike, bike ride or scenic drive.  

For my outdoor tip of the week, I'm recommending three hikes and a scenic drive in the Bruneau River country. 

The Rim2Rim hike is only doable in the fall, when the water is low.

A friend, Joanie Faucie, recently posted some pics of her Rim2Rim Bruneau Canyon hike going from the west rim to the east rim on the Roberson Trail, and I thought that was worth sharing for sure! The road to the east rim of the Roberson Trail is quite rough, so if there's a smoother alternative, it's worth checking out! Plus, we've all heard of people doing the more epic Rim-to-Rim hike in the Grand Canyon. 24 miles one-way, 6,000 feet of descent and 4,500 feet of climbing, and then retrace your tracks back to the start. 

I haven't heard often of people doing the Bruneau Canyon Rim-to-Rim hike! Joanie said it took her only two hours total round-trip! The hike features more than 600 vertical feet of drop into the river canyon, and almost 700 feet on the way up to the east rim. Actual hiking distance is a short. little over 2 miles to descend and ascend the canyon, from rim to rim, and 2 miles back, or 4 miles total. 

Courtesy Summit Post

Joanie is in good shape and an experienced hiker. If you don't mind braving the primitive roads out in the Bruneau desert with a solid 4WD, you could give this one a try. 

To reach the west rim, go south from the town of Bruneau on Idaho Highway 51 and then turn left on Broken Wagon Flat Road. Follow that road across the desert about 10 miles to the edge of the rim and trailhead. Ignore minor ranch roads along the way. Two wooden posts mark the trailhead by the rim. 

Joanie said the river was really shallow at the trail-crossing. About ankle-deep or so. 

Courtesy BLM

Bruneau Overlook 

To reach the Bruneau Overlook, follow the Hot Springs Road south of town to the Hot Springs junction. Bear left on the Cover-Three Creek Road and climb up onto a sagebrush plateau. The signed turnoff to the Bruneau Overlook is about 15 miles from the town of Bruneau. You'll go another three miles over to the viewpoint at the rim, where you can park, have a picnic and enjoy the spectacular views!  

Best time to visit is in the spring when everything is green and blooming. But it's totally spectacular year-round, quite honestly.

Rim to Rim option 2, East Rim to West Rim

From the Bruneau Overlook, go back toward the main road and then go right on a rough secondary 4WD road for several miles to the Roberson East Trailhead. Some people have hiked 4 miles from the overlook to the Roberson Trail or rode mountain bikes. Here's a description in All Trails. They rate the out-and-back as being "moderate" and note the trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. 

Map to Roberson Trail East

Summit Post
describes the option of hiking cross-country from the Overlook along the rim over to Roberson Trail East.

I also describe the Roberson Trail East hike in my Owyhee Canyonlands guide. 

There you have it! 

Remember that general deer season will be opening on Oct. 10 statewide. Be sure to put bright colors on you and your dog when head outdoors!

Have fun!
- SS

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