Hells Canyon Reservoirs
Points of Interest
Idaho Rafting Guides and Outfitters Listed by River:
Most of the acreage contained within Hells Canyon's three reservoirs is situated south of the National Recreation Area. Fishing and boating are popular pastimes at all three of the reservoirs, which are located on the Snake River, Idaho's largest Wild and Scenic River.
Brownlee Reservoir, the largest of the three, stretches 52 miles in length and has long been known for its exceptional fishing opportunities. A census in 1989 found that Brownlee was the most popular fishing hole in the state. Its popularity has continued. Native and stocked fish include Rainbow Trout, perch, crappie catfish, sturgeon, pumpkinseed, bullhead and sunfish.
Brownlee can be accessed on the Oregon side at several places, including at Farewell Bend State Park (off Highway 84), or from two locations near Richland. On the Idaho side, it borders Steck Park, (23 miles north of Weiser; follow Olds Ferry Road). The BLM-run park offers camping and nature viewing. A boat ramp and RV refuse facilities are available.
Hells Canyon Reservoir, which runs along the southeast edge of the NRA, is 25 miles long and the narrowest of the three. This part of the river is bordered by Hells Canyon Wilderness on the Oregon side, and no motorized vehicles are permitted within the wilderness. On the Idaho side, Snake River Road winds along the edge of the reservoir, providing an engaging view of the river. The Hells Canyon Creek Information Station, at the dam, is open to visitors during the summer months.
Oxbow Reservoir, approximately 13 miles north of Brownlee, is considerably smaller: only 12 miles in length. Pioneers name the body of water "Oxbow" because of its peculiar donut shape. Copperfield Park, south of Oxbow Dam, has approximately 80 RV and camping sites. Two boat launches are located nearby, maintained by Idaho Power.
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...
Hiking Hells Canyon & Idaho's Seven Devils Mountains (Regional Hiking Series) by Fred Barstad. Use this guide for up-to-date trail information, accurate directions to popular as well as less-traveled trails, difficulty ratings for each hike, detailed trail maps, and zero-impact camping tips. 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...
Island and Rapids: A Geological Story of Hells Canyon by Tracy Vallier. This book, written by a world-class scientist tells the geologic history of the deepest gorge in North America. Also included is a mile by mile guide to the Canyon's features as well as photographs. Order now...
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