The float trip through Hells Canyon is a prized notch in the belt for Idaho whitewater devotees. This is big water, with monster waves and powerful hydraulics that can eat boats for lunch. Even veteran raft guides respect the power of the Class IV Wild Sheep and Granite Rapids. The toughest section of the river lies between the put-in just below Hells Canyon Dam and Pittsburg Landing, a 32-mile, two-day trip. From here down to Hells Gate State Park at Lewiston are 73 miles dotted with a number of Class III bumps. Permits are required for any boating above Heller Bar, about 30 river miles above Lewiston; for more information, contact the Snake River administrative office of Hells Canyon NRA, 2535 Riverside Dr4. in Clarkston (do not send mail to this address) or PO Box 699, Clarkston, WA 99403, 509-758-1957 (float information), 509-758-0270 (power-boat information), 509-758-0616 (general canyon information). The office is open in summer daily 8-11:30 A.M. and 12:30-4 P.M.; in winter it's open those same hours but Mon.-Fri. only.
Note that both jetboats and rafters are permitted to run the canyon. If you're into peaceful solitude, make sure you go on a trip during one of the nonmotorized periods, when only paddlers are permitted. Those periods are Mon.-Wed. of every other week (except Fourth of July week) starting the first full week in June and continuing through the end of August.
*The information above is reproduced with permission of Avalon Publishing Group, 2002, Moon Handbooks: Idaho, Fifth Edition, by Don Pitcher.
Click here on Snake River Guides and Outfitters for a list of operators that sponsor trips on the Snake River in Hells Canyon.
Idaho Rivers United
Idaho Rivers United's mission is to protect, restore and improve the rivers of Idaho and the communities that depend on them. Our focus is the ecological integrity of our rivers, but the lens we look through is citizen involvement. We involve our volunteers and members in issues such as establishment of in-stream flows, protection of wild rivers, keeping rivers clean and healthy, defending at-risk populations of fish, and minimizing the impacts of dams on Idaho's rivers.
Maravia Rafts. Boise, Idaho
Northwest River Supplies. 2009 South Main Street, Moscow, ID 83843. Toll-free: 1-800-635-5202; Fax: 1-877-567-7329 or 208-883-4787.
Best selection of books on the Northwest.
Snake River of Hells Canyon by Johnny Carrey, John Carrey and Cort Conley. Organized by miles headed downriver from Hells Canyon dam, this is a colorful chronicle of canyon history. A must read for anyone visiting Hells Canyon, whether by boat, on horseback or a foot. Order now...
The Idaho Paddler Whitewater Gems by Sean Glaccum. A guide to 72 different whitewater runs in Idaho covering rivers, creeks and water falls, accompanied with a full page photo and directions. This book will get you the adventure you are looking for and get you there with the info to have a great time. Order now...
Idaho the Whitewater State by Grant Amaral (Author), Laura Andrews (Editor, Illustrator), Doug Ammons (Designer, Editor), Mary Williams (Author). The complete guidebook to the rivers of Idaho. Containing over 100 different runs, 100 maps, 16 color and 52 black and white photos, The Whitewater State is the best-selling Idaho guidebook. Order now...
Whitewater Rafting by Graeme Addison. Paperback, 96 pages, Stackpole Books; 1st edition (February 2001). Clear, concise text and easy-to-read illustrations show how to read the water and maneuver the craft. Chapters on safety cover the basic equipment. An extensive listing of contacts and select destinations is also included. Order now...
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