Bruneau - Indian Hot Springs to 8 miles South of Bruneau

Bruneau, Idaho, US


Indian Hot Springs to 8 miles South of Bruneau

Usual Difficulty II-IV (for normal flows)
Length 40 Miles
Avg. Gradient 30 fpm

Bruneau Canyon

Bruneau Canyon
Photo of Peter Spear by Claudia Schwab taken 05/15/01

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-13168500 700 - 2500 cfs II-IV 00h19m 101 cfs (too low)

River Description

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


Permit Information

Self issue permit can be downloaded from BLM website, and are available at self registration stations at the put in and take out.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-12-05 03:16:45


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 17 2016 (980 days ago)
Matt BarnesDetails
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.
April 24 2012 (2464 days ago)
Nick BorelliDetails
A no go for a raft at any flow. Bring wire cutters and teach Farmer Bob a lesson! :)
April 24 2012 (2465 days ago)
Brian VogtDetails
There is a riverwide barbed wire fence just below the cable car crossing that access the hot
springs at the end of the run. This fence is roughly a mile and a half or so above the takeout.
Very hard to see, no eddies available. Approach with caution.