Hells Canyon is a classic desert multi-day run with incredible scenery, quality whitewater, and relatively warm water temperatures. This stretch may be combined with a Class II stretch down river that extends this float by another 30 miles. With only two Class IV rapids, this stretch makes an ideal multi-day experience for those interested in a mellow float with a few big thrills. The two downfalls of the Hells Canyon experience are the difficulties in obtaining permits during summer months and the jet boat traffic, although the jet boats can be thrilling to watch as they climb the same rapids you are descending.
A brief list of some of the notable rapids on this run follows, but please consult a river map for specific locations and information.
In an effort to to preserve the popular river's natural resources, permits are required for launch dates between Memorial Day Weekend and September 10. These are available via the Four Rivers Lottery system, which also serves the Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Main Salmon, and the Selway rivers. Outside of those dates, self-issue permits are available.
While this stretch can be done in one day, many people will spend two or three days floating. Camping is restricted to designated sites only; however, there are plenty throughout the majority if the canyon. Sites do get sparse around 5 miles from the takeout, so plan ahead. Campers should follow the Leave No Trace ethic, and regulations require boaters to pack out garbage and waste.
It is highly recommended to use a shuttle service to get your vehicle to the takeout. Hells Canyon Shuttle Service is great and very friendly.