Moby Goes to the Bruneau River Canyon

I had a few days off, so Larry and I grabbed our Idaho hot springs book and took off in search of beautiful scenery and a good soak. 51aHgJ4UdHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Southeast of Boise the book describes two “excellent” hot springs in the Bruneau River Canyon: Indian Bathtub and Indian Hot Springs. We’re off to the Bruneau River (south of Mountain Home, ID) to find them.

Bruneau River Canyon
Bruneau River Canyon
Confluence of Bruneau and Jarbridge Rivers
Confluence of Bruneau and Jarbridge Rivers
Lower Bruneau Canyon
Lower Bruneau Canyon (where’s Moby?)
Indian Bathtub Hot Springs
Indian Bathtub Hot Springs

We began in the lower canyon. Lots of sage. Dirt. Dust. We drove in, followed the book’s directions to Indian Bathtub Hot Springs, a place “sure to leave a smile on your face . . . a large approximately 12 x 15 foot pool . . . hidden in low basalt cliffs with its own little overhanging cave and expansive panoramic view of the river . . . . Indian Bathtubs at one time consisted of an entire hot creek that filled large, natural, water-carved rock pools. Local Native Americans tells of times when indians from across the plains met near the hot springs to trade and to soak in the hot springs.” What we found was okay, but not the place described. Apparently irrigation in the valley below has lowered the water table and dried up the “new” Indian bathtub hot springs just as irrigation dried up the original Native American site upstream. What’s left is this lone, little pool at the edge of the Bruneau River.

The hot springs was a disappointment, but Larry thought good hunting might redeem this place. Other than a few quail, nothing was home.

Hunting . . . for nothing.
Hunting . . . for nothing.

It’s hard to see, but what’s the round blob hanging out in this tree?

Mystery mammal
Porcupine!

Another mystery–why is the fence across the stream bed free to swing?

Mystery fence
Swinging fence allows debris to pass during flood stage run-off

Another mystery. What are these?

Mystery silos
We don’t know! Are they part of the nearby Mt. Home Air Force Base? Are they houses for irrigation pumps? It’s a mystery!

The lower Bruneau Canyon was mostly a bust, so we headed south on Hwy. 51 toward Nevada and the source of the Bruneau River. Anyone want to buy an entire town? This one might be available at a reasonable price.

Grasmere, Idaho, Population 0
Grasmere, Idaho, Population 0

Our road into the upper canyon. Jarbidge Mountains (Nevada) in the background.

Sheep Creek Road
Sheep Creek Road

The canyon becomes deeper and steeper.

Bruneau Canyon at Roberson Trail
Bruneau Canyon at Roberson Trail
Ranch mailbox, Mary's Creek
Ranch mailbox, Mary’s Creek

Our average speed on the road into Indian Springs was 4.4 MPH. We drove 11 miles of this in 2.5 hours.

Road into Bruneau River
Road into Bruneau River at Indian Springs from the west

Larry got bored, so I drove and he walked ahead and did road improvement.

Road improvement
Road improvement

We finally arrived at the top of the canyon and found an old ranch building (?). If you want to build a house out of rocks, this is the place for you.

Sage flats above Bruneau Canyon
Sage flats above Bruneau Canyon, west side

It’s another mile or so into the canyon to the springs, but this was the end of the road for Moby. The road into the canyon is no longer maintained. It’s narrow, steep, and crumbling.

Road into Indian Hot Springs, Bruneau Canyon
Road into Indian Hot Springs, Bruneau Canyon, west side

It was getting late, so we decided to hike to the spring in the morning. In the meantime, Larry tried his hunting luck.

First chukar of the season
First chukar of the season

In the morning, we hiked into the canyon and easily found the hot spring by following the billowing steam.

Indian Hot Springs valley
Indian Hot Springs valley

About this time, my camera battery quit, but the hot spring was amazing, so here’s a boring YouTube video that’s better than the crappy photos I take anyway. So much hot water–about 150 degrees. But once again, what we found was not what our hot springs book promised. The old clawfoot iron soaking tub described in the book and present in this video had been dragged away from the spring, over near the river bank, and had a couple big holes (as in from being smashed with a rock). Why? It’s a mystery, but my guess is that the landowner (most of this land is wilderness, but this small river bottom section is private) doesn’t want a bunch of hot springs traffic, so he/she busted the tub. What a shame. It would have been a lovely soak.

During spring runoff, crazy kayakers and rafters run the Bruneau. The put-in is at Indian Springs and the river quickly disappears into a this dark, steep canyon. Bon voyage!

Bruneau Canyon
Bruneau Canyon

On our drive back to Boise, we saw some great things including this sheep wagon. As a young man, my dad herded sheep in Wyoming and lived in one of these. When he married my mom, they both lived for awhile in the wagon.

Sheep wagon
Sheep wagon

Keeping the old sheep wagon company were these two busses that had been converted to herder houses.

Sheep herder camp
Sheep herder camp

Larry misses his field trip days driving the bus. He got behind the wheel and told the kids to sit down. First person to spot an eagle gets a buck from Marty O’Brien. Larry spotted one. Where’s the buck, Marty?

Larry dives the bus
Larry dives the bus

And perhaps the most amazing thing we saw on this trip: a group of eleven bull elk (two are not in this picture). Bulls group together after the rut is over.

Bachelor party
Bachelor party
High desert elk bulls
High desert bull elk

7 thoughts

  1. Beautiful elk photos….looks like an adventure! And what’s that I see, (again)? Larry moving more rocks? It seems to have become a favorite pastime Larry!
    D

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