Hells Canyon

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.

Go Northwest photo of Brownlee Reservoir. Camping at Brownlee Reservoir.

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.

Fishing and pleasure boating on Hells Canyon Reservoir.

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.

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