Mountain Home is a city nestled in the sagebrush-covered desert. It was originally built as a supply point for the Oregon Trail, which passed nearby in the middle of the 19th century.
You can drive along the trail and see the Snake River ford. There are many spots where wagon wheels have left indentations in ground nearly 200 years ago.
Mountain Home is also the starting point for amazing natural sights such as the Bruneau Canyon, the Bruneau Dunes and the Bruneau Dunes’ record-breaking sandy peaks.
A Air Combat Command facility is located just outside the city. The city’s 80-year-old connection to the United States Air Force can be seen with an F-111 Aardvark, which is mounted in central Carl Miller Park.
1. Bruneau Dunes State Park
Just south of Mountain Home, on the Snake River’s opposite bank, is a dune network that boasts the largest single-structured dunes in North America.
The 4,800-acre park, which is home to this monster, rises 470 feet above surrounding land.
Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the dunes to protect the fragile environment. However, you can camp, climb, sandboard, and sled, and also take horseback rides and hikes around the dunes.
A lake with abundant bluegill is also located at the foot of the main dune. Don’t forget your rod!
This unpopulated area of Idaho is known for its night sky. The observatory houses a telescope and Fridays and Saturdays are mid-March through October.
2. Bruneau Canyon Overlook
The 60-mile Bruneau Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of Southwest Idaho, is a natural wonder made from basalt and Rhyolite by Bruneau River.
Mountain Home, a large city located in the midst of extremely remote country, is the nearest major city to the canyon’s rim.
It is located about 30 minutes south of the city, but it is worth every minute of the trip. You can walk right up to the rim and enjoy a stunning view of the canyon’s huge, craggy walls.
Bruneau Canyon Overlook: This massive cleft in ground measures 1,300 feet from the opposite rim to the canyon floor and 900 feet from the other rim.
3. Byway to the Main Oregon Trail Back Country
Mountain Home, Idaho was one of the most difficult sections of the Oregon Trail.
This 102-mile backcountry drive tracks much of the original route and allows you to enjoy the beautiful scenery without any hardship.
The old Glenns Ferry fording site is where the byway begins. It then winds its way through the stark, but beautiful, sagebrush desert to Bonneville Point near Boise.
You can drive the route to Mountain Home, but there is a slight detour along the way.
You can download an itinerary with authentic diary entries, including a complete list of byways, from the U.S. Forest Service website.
4. Mountain Home Museum
Mountain Home’s City Hall is located next to an elegant former Carnegie Library. It was built in 1908 with a grant from the famed philanthropist.
Mountain Home Museum is an excellent example of Western Colonial Revival architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The museum contains a wealth of information about the city’s connections to the Oregon Trail. It tells the story of Rattlesnake Station which was a crucial post for emigrants in the foothills. However, it also serves as a stopover for the Atlanta and Rocky Bar Goldmines high in the Sawtooth Range.
Mountain Home also has compelling exhibits that celebrate Mountain Home’s history, including long-term Native American residents as well as Chinese miners and 19th century Basque immigrants.
Finally, the military collections provide evidence of Mountain Home’s 80 year relationship with the United States Air Force.
5. Richard Aguirre Park
Richard Aguirre park is the best place to be in Mountain Home on a sunny day.
This is especially true for families with children as the park offers many amenities such as a new skatepark, age-specific play areas, and large open spaces for picnics and play.
The city pool is located here, which we will discuss in detail next. Two gazebos can be used for events and celebrations. If you are visiting the area to play tennis or horseshoe, you will find both courts and pits.
6. Mountain Home City Pool
The city swimming pool at Richard Aguirre park is a summer favorite in Mountain Home. It’s open from June to August. Lap swimming is very affordable and all ages are welcome to join.
There are many classes and activities offered at the pool all year, including swimming lessons and paddleboard yoga. Private parties can also be arranged on a regular basis.
A shallow pool with a slide is available for toddlers and babies. You can cool off with a sweet treat at the Sno Palace, right next to the pool house.
7. Carl Miller Park
Mountain Home is a great place to host outdoor events.
Carl Miller Park, a handsome park with old trees, is named after a local WWI hero. It also serves as a picturesque setting for Mountain Home’s Christmas lights and the fun-filled Air Force Appreciation Day.
A General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, perched on a pedestal, is an iconic symbol of the city’s connection to the Air Force.
Carl Miller Park offers many amenities, including a large gazebo, fireplace and children’s playground. There is also a picnic area.
8. Crater Rings
Another amazing thing about Mountain Home is the pair of volcanic pit craters located just a few miles north.
The Crater Rings can be found at the summit of a shield volcanic, and are thought to be the youngest volcanoes in Mountain Home.
These two circular depressions are ex-volcanic conduits that were created by an explosion and then a collapse.
The western crater measures 2,500 ft in diameter and 300 ft in depth, while the eastern one is slightly larger at 3,000 feet and 350 ft respectively.
9. Three Island Crossing State Park
You can take an educational tour to Glenns Ferry, which is not far from the spot where the Oregon Trail crossed over the Snake River.
These wagons traversed the Snake River for many decades, until Gus Glenn built a bridge on the river two-miles upstream in 1869.
You’ll find wagon ruts that are close to 200 years old on a self-guided walk through these 600+ acres. There’s also an interpretive center, where you can learn more information about pioneers and early settlers, as well as Native American culture.
Three Island Crossing offers a campground, cabins and a disc-golf course. You can also dip your feet in the water or cast a line at the spot where emigrants crossed to start a new life.
10. Anderson Ranch Reservoir
Mountain Home is the nearest large settlement to Anderson Ranch Dam, which is located on the South Fork the Boise River.
This earth-rockfill dam, which impounds a reservoir that covers almost 5,000 acres, was built in the 1940s to provide irrigation and hydroelectricity.
You’ll need to travel US 20 through an upland desert landscape in order to get there. You might be amazed at how lush the valley is, especially around the ten campgrounds.
The reservoir is well-known for its rich kokanee fishing, with a daily limit of 25.
11. C. J. Strike Reservoir
The hydroelectric C. J. was built in the 1950s by Idaho Power Company. Strike Dam impounded the Snake River at its confluence to the Bruneau River and created a reservoir of 7,500 acres.
It is located about 20 miles southwest from Mountain Home. This area offers recreation opportunities, including hiking trails, campgrounds and boat launches.
The C. J. Strike Reservoir is well-known for its warm-water and cold-water fishing. There are many resident fishes, including bluegills, largemouth bass, smallmouth rainbow trout, crappie and yellow perch.
You’ll also find historic wagon wheel ruts that date back to the Oregon Trail along marked trails near the reservoir.
12. Desert Canyon Golf Course
Mountain Home’s 18-hole public course is located in a convenient location. The nine front holes were built on the banks of a creek in 1963.
These holes are characterized by gentle terrain and fairways that are surrounded by trees. The back nine was completed in 1998, and presents a different challenge.
The course is shaped like a canyon and offers spectacular views. Five holes test your skills with water hazards.
Desert Canyon offers practice facilities such as a driving range and chipping green, a practice bunker, and putting green.
13. Legacy Park
A new park has been created on the north side, partly due to community donations.
It’s hard to believe, but Legacy Park has 40 acres of grass and family-friendly amenities. The site was once a large old gravel pit.
The park has two gazebos and a wedding chapel. It also includes a playground for children, a softball field, and basketball court.
The lower gazebo has a barbecue grill, electrical boxes and porta-potties for anyone who is planning an event.
14. Prince Albert Hot Springs
High above Glenns Ferry, in the Bennett Mountain Hills, is a remote natural location that will appeal to adventurers.
This is where you will find one of Idaho’s hot springs. Clear water bubbles out of the ground at around 100 degrees F.
A small dam was built to create a swimming pool. There’s also a fire ring right next to it for those who want to make a Cowboy Camp.
As the road becomes more treacherous in winter, it is best to make the ascent in summer. The views from the Snake River Valley are breathtaking if you make it.
15. Fresh Friday Farmers’ Market
Mountain Home hosts a farmers’ market every Friday from early June to mid-September.
The market is located at El Rancho Park, just opposite the Mellon Hotel. This market offers a great opportunity to find local specialities, organic fresh produce, jams, jellies and breads as well as grass-fed meat.
If you have any questions or want to get ideas about storage or recipes, it is worth speaking with growers and producers.
You might also find local talent and something you love.