Tuesday, April 19, 2016

usbackroads destination-Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park, Idaho

usbackroads destination-Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park, Idaho

In the spring of 1973 I accepted a summer job on the Mountain Home Ranger District, Boise National Forest. Bruneau Sand Dunes at that time was an undeveloped area just south of Mountain Home.  I do remember a couple of great day trips to the dunes for fishing.  The ponds had crappie and bluegill in them and even at the ripe of age of 22 it was still great fun to watch a red and white bobber go down when the fish took the worm.

Since those days the Sand Dunes have always been on my list for a return trip. I did know that the Boise Astronomical Society put in a large observatory and that campsites, paved roads, and visitor centers have all shown up in the intervening years.

Heading north from Arizona I put this on my list to spend the night and following day once again exploring the area.  Has it really been 43 years??

When I arrived at the visitor center I had the choice of three campgrounds.  The regular campground which was almost booked solid.

The RV campground which was pretty much empty. The difference between these two campgrounds seemed to be the size of the shade trees! It was spring break so the "regular" campground was full of families.

However, the staff gently steered me to the equestrian campground which was empty. Not sure why? But it was me and Bugaboo and the stars over the the desert.  It was expensive at $22/ night, and I was worried that I was going to have to share the campground. As it turned out I had the campground to myself, but did have to watch where I walked since it was a horse campground. For some reason, Bugaboo who normally finds horse poop a treat ignored it.  Maybe he doesn't like Idaho horses??

It was fairly cold and windy as the moon and Jupiter rose in the east. Morning found the wind gone and sunny skies that were fairly warm. I looked at the green hills above the campground and spotted something that was moving. My first thought, was that it was a coyote.  But it turns out to be a pronghorn antelope. Even at this distance he was wary of my presence. Must have been a tough hunting season for him.  Even for an antelope it is tough to outrun a high powered rifle.

Here are the rules and regulations for the state park. You can click and read them if you like or go to the Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park website.

This is a picture of the observatory and adjacent visitor center for it.  The observatory is a rather unique design. I believe it has a 25 inch diameter telescope in it on a Dobsonian mount.  The design is a clever adaption for that style of mount. Observatories are usually placed on mountain tops. So I understand why this would not work on the top of the dune.  But why was it located down in the hollow next to the pond? Someday, I might get an answer to the question.

It is interesting that the ponds were the reason people came here in 1973.  Nowadays, it looks like most of the recreational activity is around the dunes. This picture shows the layout of the dune system. The ponds are at the base of the two closes dunes.

I thnk it is an unwritten law that all dune photography must be done in black and white. In color, these dunes just do not have the visual impact.

For kids there is something magical about sand dunes. There are even pretty special if  "the kid in you" is no longer visible.

1 comment:

niko the wolf said...

Once again, thank you for your posts. Hope to get out West again next. Just retired and moved to Daphne, Alabama on the east side of Mobile Bay. No trips this year, got lots of work to do on the house and the dock.