June 21 – June 24, 2020.
We didn’t expect to find shorebirds in Idaho, we didn’t expect to find an amazing canyon with such amazing scenery in Idaho, and we didn’t expect to find the tallest sand dune in North America in Idaho. And we had no idea we’d find all of this in one big green blob on the map that was for the most part with in the boundary of the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey NCA.
Our last stop in the Morley Nelson area was Bruneau Dunes State Park. I think we decided to go there because we wanted to kayak again and the park had two small ponds. But the big attraction here was the sand dunes. Standing at 470 feet this lofty single-structured dune loams over the ponds. People come here to climb this sandy skyscraper as well as the adjacent dunes and to sandboard down them. The visitor center rents boards if you don’t bring your own.
And then after a kayak, a hike, and a dune climb we finally left Morley Nelson. It was time to head back Twin Falls, where we had done laundry and a bit of provisioning two weeks earlier, to get ready for another two weeks of adventuring. But first, we had to make a stop at a place we spied and then zipped by on our way to Morley Nelson – Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.
Arriving a few hours before the monument’s visitor center opened we drove passed it to the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area to stalk for birds and kill time. We weren’t disappointed in our stalking pursuits and wasted plenty of time.
The Fossil Beds encompass 4351 acres and stretch 6 miles along the west side of the Snake River. (Yes, the Snake River again. We may have left Morley Nelson but the Snake would be with us a few more days) There are two overlooks in the Monument (which we went to) but although there are active digs in Hagerman you can’t see any fossils from these vistas. The free visitor center is where all the good stuff is including one of the 20 complete skeletons of the Hagerman Horse found in the Monument. There we saw a short movie about the area, lots of great displays, and talked with some knowledgeable volunteers.
That evening we found ourselves at Bell Rapids, a free campsite that overlooked the Snake River not far from the visitor center. Spanning out on the other side were the bluffs of the Hagerman fossil beds, holding clues to what life was like in this surprising place we now call Idaho.
* Click to enlarge pics.