my little green flags | Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID

About a year ago I started flagging places in my Google Map—places that sounded fun, unique or exceptionally beautiful. I am not building a bucket list, I’m crafting an itinerary of possibilities; mentally acknowledging that no matter where we are, there are amazing things to discover.

When I see an Instagram picture of a breathtaking scene, I create a flag. If I watch a YouTube video and see an amazing experience, I flag. I flag it and forget it until it’s time to create our next travel itinerary and then, like an airliner landing at night, those little flags help light my way.

My map is quickly filling in, populated by little green flags representing places we’ve encountered and others we’ve yet to explore. (Yellow stars indicate locations where I’ve found RV family friendly volunteer opportunities.)


Bruneau Dunes State Park is stop number one on our before mentioned travel map and was inspired by one of those little green flags in Southern Idaho.

Like so many western states, Idaho has many personalities. What you discover in the panhandle differs drastically from the central valley, and the valley is not at all like the southern region.

Photo: The Northern Panhandle is green, characterized by mountains, trees and lakes
Photo: Central Idaho is yellow grasses, hillsides, valleys, rivers and farmland
Photo: Southern Idaho is brown dessert and sand, buttes and sagebrush


The iconic green google map flag has brought us to Idaho’s dessert region where brown reigns. We park our little home among the sand and sagebrush and breathe in the quiet air that lays still and calm.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID

As the sun dips her head low in the sky, I venture out with the kids to hike to the nearby dune. The sandy trail, marked by an absence of desert flora, leads the way. Three of the kids race ahead with interest while Quinten and I meander hand-in-hand.

We arrive as the sky slips silently from blue to a blaze of apricot gold. Removing our sandals, we make our way up the face of the dune, cool sand squishing between our toes. The dark, youthful silhouettes frolicking skyward capture my attention. I reach for my phone but discover that the battery is dead. Employing my mental camera, I instead burn the memory into my hard-drive.

Exuberant play reigns until the light of the half-moon casts our shadows on the sand. We make our way home, taking turns with the flashlight, strategically avoiding painful encounters with sagebrush. Sleep comes quickly as we dream of sandboarding in the morning.


Breakfast and chores are completed with energetic fervor as a pulse of excited anticipation courses through the RV. Today is the day we will surf the sand. Trent rents two boards for $25 and the kids pile into the truck bed. We drive slowly to the nearest dune where the sand has not yet warmed from the rising sun.

I set up camp chairs at the base of the dune and settle in for my morning entertainment. Novice snowboarders at best, we offer each other unseasoned advice and the chaos ensues. Shrieks of laughter, yelps of frightened surprise and tears from unexpected wipeouts fill the air.

Pausing for lunch, we return to the dunes ready for more.

Heat now radiates from above and below as we trek upward, leaving temporary proof of our presence in our wake.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID

With skills refined and confidence boosted, challenges ensue. Who can go farthest, stay up longest, crash most dramatically?

Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID

Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID

Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID

Titles change hands a number of times until Quinten’s face confidently meets the sand declaring the day on the dunes officially done.




More tears.

Sand in ears.

Sand in hair.

Sand in nose.

Sand in mouth.

The impact evidence is slowly wiped away and once again Quinten and I meander back, hand-in-hand, as we reminisce on the day. We vow to be thankful that he fell at the end, after all the fun was already gathered into his heart.

That evening I gaze up at the starlit sky and reflect on the value of living fully in the moment, regardless of what that moment becomes. Little green flags may await me in the future, but today a green flag became a memory.

Because there’s only the moment you’re in, and when you must enjoy it for what it is, not what you expect it to be, it can never disappoint you.


Travel Notes

The Bruneau Dunes State Park has water and electric with a dump station on site. RV sites were pull-through on level gravel. The bathrooms were clean and the showers were hot. We have Verizon cell service and our connection was decent. We stayed two nights and felt like that was just right.

You can rent wooden sandboards or sleds from the ranger station for $15/day or two for $25. They come with some wax (which helps a lot).

Kids are able to earn a wooden Jr. Ranger badge by completing an easy activity sheet.

What green flags have you marked out for the future? What moment did you enjoy today? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about it!

10 thoughts on “my little green flags | Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID”

  1. What fun! Except for Quentin’s fall, of course! Sand in eyes. Sand in mouth. Tears! Poor guy.

    I love your little green flag ideas. We decided not to go up to Post Falls this weekend and instead chose to spend a long weekend going to one of our ‘little green flag’ destinations; the Washington coast. We’ve been to the Puget Sound and the Oregon Coast countless times but never the ocean on the Washington coast. So, we left Thursday and started in Seattle, then yesterday we took a ferry to Bainbridge island. Now we’re in Forks Washington hanging out with Bella and Edward. 😋 Today we’ll go along the coast and visit all the beaches on our list. Look up Rialto beach and Ruby beach. I’m excited! ❤

  2. So curious–what have you flagged in Florida? Looks like they’re near where I live, and we’re always on the lookout for new, fun things to do as a family. 🙂

  3. Once again, I am delighted to read your beautiful decription of a special day! You have such a gift for writing!
    I’ll bet it fun to be on the road again!

    1. Thank you so much Jenifer, I really appreciate your kind words. It is a lot of fun to be on the road again. There is something about the ebb and flow of change that is always welcomed. It reminds me of living in a place where there are distinct seasons–each one is enjoyed but the next is always welcomed warmly when its time comes.

  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed Bruneau! I lived in Southern Idaho for 25+ years but just went there for the first time this Spring. Our green flags are starting to pop up all over the world. 😄 For now we’re still exploring American Samoa, for such a small island there are so many places to discover!

    1. I thought of you when we were in Southern Idaho. I was thinking you lived in a town pretty close to Bruneau dunes? It’s funny how long it can take us sometimes to visit places so close to us isn’t it? I bet you do have flags all over the world. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know American Samoa through your eyes–keep up the writing!

  5. My version of your little green flags is Pinterest. I pin blog posts like this one to a state board and when we go to that state I look at everything I pinned to that state. I just pinned this post to my Idaho board because this place sounds like lots of fun!

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