What and Where is Hells Canyon?
Hells Canyon! The name alone is a bit intriguing. In July 2015 I set out on a solo trip to join an outfitter group to river raft the mighty Snake River for a 5 day trip through Hells Canyon. Hells canyon is the deepest gorge in North America, even deeper than the Grand Canyon! Cut out by the Snake River, Hells Canyon is 7900 feet deep while the Grand Canyon is 6093 feet deep! Three states border Hells Canyon, Oregon and Washington on the West and Idaho on the East.
Great for Solo Travelers Too
After rafting the Grand Canyon in 2014, I caught the White water bug! White water rafting is a great trip for a solo traveler. The trips are usually small, under 25 people, ran by reputable companies, very safe and accommodating to the solo traveler, fun and adventurous, and you can do as much or as little as you want. They also cook all your meals and set up your tent! Once in camp you can relax and enjoy where you are! These trips usually include rafting, hiking, and visiting scenic places.
There are several white water companies to go with. I choose Row Adventures for several reasons. First, they have a great reputation, second, they picked me up at the airport and provided all transportation, and third, their food looked amazing! (The food always plays a big part in my decision making). I also liked the choice of rowing or riding on the rafts or a combination of both. Top recommendations for this trip!
After flying into Boise, Idaho I was transported to Cambridge, Idaho where I, and other members or the group stayed at The Frontier Hotel. It is a simple hotel, yet clean and comfortable. It was a good place to relax, learn about the trip, and meet my fellow rafters and the guides!
The Mighty Snake River
The Snake River received it’s name because of the many curves that snake through the canyon. There are plenty of white water rapids. Many of them are a level IV. You will get soaked! What I like about the Snake River is there is space between rapids, meaning, you will run a rapid and then float more leisurely along a stretch of river, and then run another rapid. It isn’t constant rapids.
If you go in the summer, it will be hot! The canyon walls retain heat! I remember during a non-rapid stretch it was so hot that even the breeze was hot and felt like a blow dryer in my face! During these times, I would dunk my towel, hat or neck handkerchief in the river to cool off. I really looked forward to a rapid to cool me off! Wear lots of sunscreen.
Side Trips in Hells Canyon
Each day we would have a change of scenery by hiking to different areas in the canyon. The hikes varied from easy, with no or little elevation, to more strenuous, by hiking up the canyon. The guides did a great job explaining where we were, what we were seeing, and the history of the place. We explored a homesteaders abandoned cabin, pictographs from the Nez Perce Tribe, and a historic ranch. We climbed up to Suicide Point and also climbed to the top of the canyon to see the confluence of the Snake and Salmon Rivers.
Fun Activities on The River
There were also some fun activities during the day. Like a natural water slide! That was fun and had a surprising plunge at the end! Also jumping from a cliff into the riverwhich I am always up for! This time, I definitely did it wrong! Instead of keeping my body vertical, as I have on past river jumps, I slipped a bit when I jumped and hit the water with my right leg sort of under me. Consequently, this left me bruised from my ankle to above my knee! It stayed bruised for a couple of weeks so I had a lot of strange looks back home! Regardless, it was an awesome jump. Not sure if I’d do it again though!
Below photo credits go to Row Adventure Guides
Camping Along the Snake River
Camping along the river at the bottom of Hells Canyon was amazing. When reaching shore, tents are set up and you just pick which one you want. I slept outside of the tent each night because it was so hot and I just love sleeping under the stars.
At camp you can enjoy games and activities, such as pitching horseshoes and water activities for kids. On the other hand, if you prefer, you can just relax along the river. Snacks are served before dinner along with beverages, sometimes wine. Meals were amazing. Each night something different, and I’m not talking camp food!
End of Hells Canyon Trip
Five days did not seem long enough. The rapids started to subside as we went further down the river and after a stretch of calm we ended our Hells Canyon trip. The night was spent at the Red Lion Inn located in the town of Lewiston, Idaho. After a glorious shower and a wonderful dinner, I awoke well rested and was transported back to the Boise airport.
A Hells Canyon rafting trip is a great way to cool off in the summer and enjoy nature. It is great for solo travelers, families and couples! If you are looking for something different to do, I highly recommend a white water rafting trip in Hells Canyon!
Read about my other whitewater trips and tips below.