Monday, May 14, 2007


Photos by Phares Book

Southern Idaho is full of geologic wonders, from the crystal-clear waterfalls of Thousand Springs, to the moonscape of Craters of the Moon, from the high-desert oasis of Silver Creek to the rugged canyons of the Owyhees. Traveling the sagebrush country is a constant reminder of the dramatic impacts that volcanoes, lava flows, floods and time has had on the landscape.

This Sunday, I visited Bruneau Dunes, another of these special places. A depression carved by the Bonneville Flood 15,000 years ago, the dunes are held in place by opposing wind currents. Wind is a constant here, which can create tough hiking conditions:

But even in this oft-harsh land, life thrives. Beetles appear for a second, then burrow quickly back into sand. Small tracks reveal the presence of the nocturnal kangaroo rat; as its name suggests it hops about the sand on its hind legs. With its super-efficient metabolism of water, this rat can get all its water needs from eating desert plants. Jackrabbits hide in the thickets; raptors soar overhead. Learn more about life in the desert, and how The Nature Conservancy is working to protect the desert's unique creatures.

Driving on the interstate going 75 mph never reveals the real story of Idaho's sagebrush country. Get out and explore one of Idaho's last great places and enjoy the rugged landscapes, unique wildlife and world-class outdoor recreation. --Matt Miller, blog editor

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