Many of the places Celia and I visit, we frequently leave saying, “We should return and stay longer next time.” Three Island Crossing State Park in Glenns Ferry, Idaho is one of those places. It is a beautiful campground overlooking the Snake River at an historic location on the Oregon Trail. This year we made a point to spend a few days here as we make our way to Oregon.
How different it was for the early emigrants making there way out west who had to make a very difficult decision at this very spot. Even though it was one of the best spots to traverse the river, they would risk their lives crossing the Snake at these three islands. They chanced it because of the promise of an easier trail and more plentiful water north of the Snake River. The route south of the river was more challenging. Many lost their lives crossing the river here as they pushed for the opportunity for a better life in the Oregon region. Many more persevered while walking over 2000 miles and completing a journey of a lifetime. The park has a small museum dedicated to the Oregon Trail that unfortunately is currently a casualty of Covid but we had visited it before so we did not regret not being able to enter.
Our goal for the visit was not do much sightseeing but have some time for Celia to paint outside and to enjoy being in nature. We also got to meet some nice neighbors which gave us an opportunity to learn more about Idaho. Most everyone at the park was from Idaho and some even marveled at our Florida license tags. “Are you really from Florida?” they asked.
We did take one day trip to the Bruneau Dunes State Park which is not too far away. Following the Snake River we traveled about 40 minutes never passing through a town to the remote location of the park. One of the features of the park is the large 470 foot “Big Dune.” It is the largest “single-structured” dune in North America. Several of the smaller dunes are favorites for “skiing” down the slopes. The Visitor Center even rents the “sandboards.”
As in many areas of the Snake River in Idaho, the Bonneville Flood from 14,500 years ago carved dramatic gorges along its path. The results of one of the biggest floods in world history are deposits that created the area that is now Bruneau Dunes State Park.
Its remote location also inspired the Boise Astronomical Society to promote the construction of an observatory in the park. The observatory features a twenty-five inch telescope that is accessible to the public on weekends (not this year). We were told that this is the largest telescope in the West that is open to the public.
We were able to hike on top of one of the dunes which was fun and gave you a great view of the area. There are two lakes in the park and we enjoyed a picnic lunch beside one of them. We also checked out the campgrounds which are not nearly as nice as the Three Island Crossing campground but would be convenient if you wanted to visit the observatory at night. It is a popular location since it is not far from Boise, but you will want to visit when it is not too warm due to all the sand which can really heat up.
Back at Three Island Crossing, it is so enjoyable just to park a chair outside and take in the view of the river valley. It’s a perfect place to enjoy the summer and rest awhile.