December 13, 2004

Bruneau Sand Dunes

I visited the fabled Bruneau Sand Dunes, as per my earlier plans. The weather was excellent for December, a high of 52° with the low there being around 35°. The dunes were excellent, and it was quite a workout hiking around them. The wind was blowing at the top, so some of the pictures appeared grainy, but there was good reason for that. I had the entire state park to myself, as the photo of the parking lot will attest. It was a great experience to have your own state park, and that is one of the reasons I really love idaho.

While not the largest in the world, Bruneau sand dunes have the tallest single sand dune in North America. The dunes at Bruneau Dunes State Park are unique in the Western Hemisphere. Others in the Americas form at the edges of natural basins; these form near the center. They include the largest single-structured sand dune in North America, with a peak 470 feet above the lakes.

The combination of 1) a source of sand; 2) a relatively constant wind activity; and 3) a natural trap have caused sand to collect in this semicircular basin for about 12,000 years. Unlike most dunes, these do not drift far. The prevailing winds blow from the southeast 28 percent of the time and from the northwest 32 percent of the time, keeping the dunes fairly stable. The two prominent dunes cover about 600 acres.

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