Hells Canyon is one of the most spectacular and rugged wild lands in the world. Located in the northwest of the US, the area can be found west of Idaho, east of Washington, and east of Oregon. Considered as an Idaho treasure, the Canyon consists of 280,000 hectares of land, which is 16km wide. It is also considered to be North America’s deepest gorge at 7,800 feet.
Since 1975, Hells Canyon has been preserved by the Congress and is today managed by the US Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. Mining and logging are prohibited, as well as the building of roads and construction, and the use of motorized or mechanical vehicles, which include bicycles. The area can only be reached through guided jet boat tours or rafts.
Hells Canyon was carved by the Snake River – a wild and scenic river that starts in the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and passes through 6 states. The portion of the river that winds through Hells Canyon is considered as Wild and Scenic. The 31.5 miles between Hells Canyon Dam and the Upper Pittsburgh Landing is considered wild and from this point on to 36 miles down below the Landing is considered scenic.
Depths vary from 2 feet to 105 feet, providing a broad range of water activities for the area’s visitors.
Boating & Fishing Hells Canyon, Snake River
Hells Canyon is part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. A broad range of outdoor recreational activities are available for the public. Boating and fishing are the most popular activities, as well as white-water rafting, hiking, and swimming. And since the area is virtually inaccessible by road, jet boat tours are the best way to reach the vast land.
Boating on the Scenic area of the Snake River is a popular activity for families. The best season is during the summer, from June to August, where swimming, hiking, and picnics are best enjoyed. Guided tours on 360 miles of trails lead to interesting archaeological sites. Pit house villages and rock shelters can be found scattered in the area, as well as abandoned cabins, mines, historic sites, and rock shelters with etched petroglyphs and pictographs done by the Native Americans who once inhabited the land.
There are 2 major rapids on the River – Wild Sheep and Granite Creek – that offer spectacular waves and powerful rapids for thrillseekers. The best months for rafting are March and April when flows are the highest.
The Scenic part of the river has calmer waters and offers the best area for scenic boating and fishing.
Snake River is one of the most prolific fisheries in the Northwest, with 5 designated areas along Hells Canyon for public fishing. Visitors are able to catch a diverse range of different river fishes in the waters, with the most famous fishes being Bass, Sturgeon, Catfish, and Trout – offering world-class fishing that attracts many visitors to the area.
Other Things to Do in Hells Canyon
For visitors who are not into fishing or rafting, scenic boat tours are offered by a handful of different providers in Idaho and Oregon. Half-day and full day trips are offered, with a large number of enjoyable outdoor activities that range from swimming, hiking, day-camping, and historic tours.