This might be the year to run the Bruneau and Owhyee Rivers. With the snow pack coming in over 125% for both of these drainage basins. These rivers should definitely be on your bucket list of Idaho whitewater.
The put in for the Bruneau sits 1,000 feet below the rim of the Canyon and the road grade in involves driving over large boulders. It drops this 1000 feet over less than 2 miles. On top of the grade down to the river there is about 5 miles of rough rocky desert driving. Total time from the take out near Hot Springs is about 3.5 hours. It’s worth stopping at the overlook on your way to the put in. You get a good sense of the 5 mile rapid section. Hiring a shuttle is a convenient choice saving you wear and tear on your vehicle. Our shuttle was in an oversized lifted Dodge Ram with a custom bed for hauling up to 4 rafts but it turns out there was a stock Ford F150 at the put in. Still I would only take a reliable 4×4 truck with good 10 ply tires and a good ready to go spare.
The Bruneau river is home to the Bruneau Jasper. Mining operations took place during the 1950’s. While most of the jasper is gone you can still find some along the road cut near the put in where Simplot has built a bridge across the river to move cattle back and forth. There is also a hot springs worth checking out at the put in called Indian Hot Springs. The put in is on private land so please be respectful.
After putting on the river it goes straight into a gorge. The cliffs here are made of rhyolite, an extrusive igneous rock that erupted as the Yellowstone hot spot made its march across the Snake River Plain. This rhyolite was part of the eruptive Bruneau-Jarbidge eruptive center which erupted about 12 million years ago. This center left a large basin that was then filled in with the rhyolite. Eventually basalt eruptions occurred putting the final layer at the top of the canyon. Glacial melt from the Jarbidge mountains then began carving out the canyons we see today.
Most of the rapids on the Bruneau are class III rapids. They require a fair amount of maneuvering as they are tight and the water is fast. Five Mile rapids begins at around mile 60 and goes onto mile 65. The Five Mile section has numerous class III/IV rapids that will put your boating skills to the test.
Most of the camps on the Bruneau are small but the scenery is amazing. There are camps marked on the map below Five mile but none of them seamed viable. The BLM has a river map with lots of information, maps, and permit rules that is available online.