FUN FACT: Great kayak self-support trip of 3 days (3-5 days if combined with the Jarbidge) through a remote wilderness canyon. Recently designated part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
SEASON: April / May
HAZARDS: Possible log jams. Poison ivy and rattle snakes. Vertically-walled gorge with limited exits and access. Remote wilderness. Difficult shuttle. Rapidly fluctuating water levels. Long continuous rapids at high flows. Unrunnable low-head diversion dam just below take-out.
Take Out: Head Southeast from the town of Bruneau for 8 miles on Hot Springs Road. Where the road veers left and climbs, watch for a gravel road that continues straight along the river (note that the name also changes here on the map from Hot Springs Road to Clover Three Creek Road). Follow it 1/2 mile to the take out (private land). There is a dangerous low head dam immedeately below the take out that is difficult to see from river level.
Put in: The traditional put in for the Bruneau is at Indian Hot Springs, just below the confluence of the Jarbidge and West Fork Bruneau Rivers. Driving there requires a capable 4x4 vehicle with good, mud-terrain tires and an experienced off-road driver. Two spares tires and high lift jack are highly recommended for travelling the Bruneau backcountry. The drive should not be attempted during wet or snowy weather, which is frequent during boating season. To get there, turn off approximataley 30 miles out the Clover Three Creek road (measured from the take out). Watch for a sign on the right after crossing Clover Creek and making a large switchback turn. The first six miles of the road are good, but don't be fooled, it quickly deteriorates into ten miles of treachery thereafter. As a general rule, stay left at the unmarked forks, and mark your turns to avoid getting lost on the way out. There are no landmarks in the flat Sagebrush plain. In the last 1.2 miles, the road drops 1,000 vertical feet to the canyon floor. There are several steep sections with exposed bedrock ledges that require high clearance. Near the bottom is a slippery clay bank that requires sidehilling, and is nearly impassible when wet. Do not underestimate the difficulty of this road. Shuttles can some times be arranged in the town of Bruneau. Due to the diffficult access, many paddlers start on the nearby Jarbidge River .
Plan on at least three days to float the Bruneau, with two additional days if the Jarbidge is added. If on a tight timeline the Jarbidge can be done in one day and the Bruneau in two. Bring cold weather camping gear as temps frequently drop below freezing during boating season. Drinking water should be purified. Approved firepans and human waste containment systems are required. Check BLM regulations before your trip. A great map can be purchased from the BLM, which covers both the Bruneau and Jarbidge.
DESCRIPTION: The Bruneau has about twice the volume of the Jarbidge. Cave Rapid (III-IV) will be reached soon. The water in the right channel pushes into a big cave creating an undercut at certain levels. Several short class III drops alternate with long flat sections for the next 25 miles. Although the whitewater is not quite as exciting as on the Jarbidge, the canyon landscape is breathtaking. At mile 29 (58 miles from Jarbidge put-in) Roberson Trail fords the river. Shortly after, the hardest section of the Bruneau begins. At low levels 5-Mile-Rapid is a long section of boulder gardens separated by short pools (IV-). At medium and higher levels holes may form and the rapid should be much more continuous (IV). After 5-Mile the canyon opens up. One more drop requires attention, Wild Burro IV, past mile 36 (mile 65). Another hot springs is located a couple of miles above the take-out on the left side. Don't paddle over the diversion dam below the take-out.
Description contributed by Claudia Schwab
Totally good to go in rafts as of 5/12/16! Ran at about 2000 cfs and it was great. Jarbidge was good too with two portages at Barker Falls and Jarbidge Falls.
A no go for a raft at any flow. Bring wire cutters and teach Farmer Bob a lesson! :)
7 years ago
by Brian Vogt
River Guide and maps to Owyhee, Bruneau, and Jarbidge
Rafters should look for at least 1,000 CFS on the Bruneau gage, but kayaks can run as low as 500. The BLM Guide book does not recommend running the Bruneau at flows over 2,500 CFS. Flows can fluctuate very rapidly with changing weather conditions. Timing of run off is highly variable from year to year. Catching the Bruneau can be difficult.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Clover Creek/EF Bruneau camp
Bruneau canyon above Sheep Creek
Five Mile from overlook
Bruneau Canyon 2
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