Hells Canyon, though a nationally famous run, has fairly easy whitewater. It is a good long trip in primitive surroundings for novice to intermediate boaters. There are two exceptions to that overall description – Wild Sheep and Granite rapids. Both are Class IV, but easily portable. Hells Canyon is also a good run for dories, and inflatable kayaks, in the hands of experienced paddlers.
The river in the lower half of the canyon, below the Pittsburgh Landing rafting take-out, flattens out considerably. Strong upstream breezes are common on summer afternoons and can make rowing a slow, strenuous process. The lower part of the canyon is also a popular weekend playground for jet-boaters.
Spring rains and snow-melt bring the canyon’s sparse vegetation to life from mid-April to mid-June. But the middle of the summer, you can expect to have very hot, very dry weather and terrific swimming. Hells Canyon boasts excellent fishing for small-mouth bass and sturgeon.
One of the most common forms of wildlife in Hells Canyon is the rattlesnake, so keep your eyes open whenever you’re walking.
River Stats: Difficulty: III to IV; Trip Length:
81 mi.; Put in: Hells Canyon Dam; Take
Out: Pittsburgh Landing or Heller Bar
Location: Lewis-Clark Valley and White Bird
Category: Lakes & Rivers, Excursions, Hikes & Walks, Museums & History, Wildlife Viewing, and Family Activities