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Snake Wild & Scenic River, Hells Canyon, Idaho
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Description: Total wild river: 32.5 miles, from Hells Canyon Dam to Pittsburg Landing; total scenic: 34.4 miles, from Pittsburg Landing to mile 180.2. Class III-IV rapids. Most of the difficult rapids are at the beginning, then the pace of the trip slows considerably. The two major rapids, Wild Sheep and Granite Creek, should be treated with respect, especially at high flows. The river below Pittsburg Landing is good canoeing water, and no advance permit reservations are required.

Until a million years ago, the Owyhee Mountains acted as a dam between the Snake River and its current confluence with the Columbia River, creating a vast lake in what is now southwestern Idaho. When the mountains were finally breached, the Snake roared north, cutting a giant chasm through the volcanic rock. The resulting canyon, roughly ten miles across, is not as dramatic as the Grand Canyon. However, when the surrounding peaks are visible from the river, the sense of depth is tremendous. The adjacent ridges average 5,500` above the river. He Devil Mountain, tallest of the Seven Devils (9,393`) towers some 8,000` above the river, creating the deepest gorge in the United States.
Below Hells Canyon Dam, the Snake usually carries more water than the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Below the confluence with the Salmon River, flows average 35,000 cfs and often peak over 100,000 when the Salmon is high.
Fishing is good for trout, bass and catfish. Occasionally, steelhead and salmon are caught. Fishing for the legendary Hells Canyon white sturgeon (up to 15 feet in length) is catch-and-release.

Firepans are required in the corridor- no open campfires.


Location: Put-in for the wild section at Hells Canyon Dam, in Lewiston (see Hells Gate State Park). Put-in for the scenic section at Pittsburg Landing Campground, east of US 95 on Deer Creek Road.

Address: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
Box 90
Enterprise, OR  97828
Phone: 541-426-4978

Season: April - November

Fee: yes; guide/outfitter or application fee

Reservations: permit required; see note
Activities
Blue Box indicates availability  White Box indicates unavailability
 Biking  Fishing  Picnicking
 Boating (Motorized)  Hiking/Backpacking  Scenic Driving
 Boating (Non-motorized)  Horseback Riding  
 Boating (WW)  Hunting  Water Sports
 Camping    Wildlife Viewing
 Caving  Off Highway Vehicles  Winter Sports
 Climbing    

Services and Facilities
Blue Box indicates availability  White Box indicates unavailability  An A for Accessible indicates the service or facility is accessible to people with disabilities
 Visitor Center  Group Campgnd  RV Sites
  Exhibits  Campgnd, Primitive  Electric Hookup
 Interpretive Programs  Drinking Water  Dump Station
 Cultural-Historic Sites  Restrooms  Boat Ramp
 Campgnd, Developed  Showers  Marina
 Rental Cabins

Notes: Trip length varies depending on your choice of shuttles. Pittsburgh Landing is 32 miles, Heller Bar is 79 miles; both have road access. Other length trips (60 miles to the confluence of the Salmon River, 72 miles to Cache Creek) are possible with a jet boat shuttle.
Permits are required from Hells Canyon Dam to Rush Creek from the Friday before Memorial Day through September 10. Self-issue permits are required for powerboaters in all river sections year round. These are available at Cache Creek, Lower Salmon River, Pittsburg Landing, Dug Bar, and Hells Canyon Dam. Permit requirements are strictly enforced, so be sure to have the appropriate permit.
Application for whitewater permits runs from December 1 - January 31 (permit applications must be received by January 31); the lottery is in early February. You are most likely to draw a permit for May or September; the worst odds are for July and August. Click to download PDF application. After the lottery, you can call for unassigned dates. Launch dates must be confirmed by March 15; call for uncomfirmed dates beginning March 16. Group limit 30. Advance permits are not required for trips starting at Pittsburg Landing (mile 32).
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