BRUNEAU • The Bruneau Canyon Overlook offers an expansive view of a river and wilderness area. And soon, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will make the area safer and more accessible.
Improvements at the overlook in Owyhee County will include enhanced trail access to the canyon rim, additional educational signs, restrooms and more railings.
The overlook provides tremendous views, said Max Yingst, a BLM outdoor recreation planner.
“There are very few places that you can go that overlook wilderness that’s this easily accessible.”
Visitors can see the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness — a segment of the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness, 517,000 acres designated in March 2009.
“The view is pretty spectacular,” Yingst said.
A Tuesday event announcing the improvements also highlighted Shoshone-Paiute Tribes’ culture and history, ranching and geology, said Heather Tiel-Nelson, BLM spokeswoman.
Now the BLM will move into the National Environmental Policy Act process to assess environmental
Improvements will be done next year at the earliest, Yingst said, but will depend on federal funding.
The project will cost about $400,000, he said. Some of the improvements may be phased in over time. “A restroom facility, maybe that’s a few years down the road.”
The work will give more users an opportunity to access the site, Yingst said.
The Wilderness Society proposed improvements a few years ago with a goal to introduce more people to the wilderness area, said Craig Gehrke, regional director of the organization’s Idaho office. The overlook has gotten a lot of use, but there haven’t been any new signs or a restroom at the site, he said.
A couple of planned handicapped-accessible trails will help people with mobility challenges see one of the most spectacular canyons in Idaho, Gehrke said.
Each year, about 4,500 visitors come to the Bruneau Overlook. Magic Valley and Treasure Valley residents are probably doing a loop through the area and making a side trip to the overlook after visiting Bruneau Dunes State Park, Yingst said.
To improve safety, more than 200 feet of railing will be installed around the rim of the 800-foot-deep canyon.
In the past, some injuries have been reported, Yingst said.
Some type of access to the Bruneau Canyon has existed for decades. Improvements in the early 1990s included an information kiosk, some railing around the canyon rim and a parking lot.
The latest round of upgrades was announced in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, signed into law on Sept. 3, 1964.