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Snake River

Hells Canyon Dam to Pittsburg Landing

Hells Canyon + Seven Devils Mountains, Oregon

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Snake River

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  • Spectacular late september scenery in Hells Canyon.- Snake River
  • Wild Sheep from high above.- Snake River
  • Wild Sheep.- Snake River
  • Wild Sheep.- Snake River
  • Wild Sheep in September, 2008.- Snake River
  • At this flow, starting center left and heading right in Wild Sheep was the better option.- Snake River
  • A paddle raft drops into Granite.- Snake River
  • A kayaker fails to avoid the large hole on river right at Granite.- Snake River
  • Snake River, Hells Canyon to Pittsburg.- Snake River
  • Hells Canyon on the Snake River.- Snake River
  • Great views reward short hikes from camp.- Snake River
  • A great camp in Hells Canyon.- Snake River
  • An optional challenge line in the Hells Canyon stretch of the Snake River.- Snake River
  • Another optional challenge line.- Snake River
  • There are some big sturgeon in the Snake River.- Snake River
  • - Snake River
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Wild and Scenic River. Nation's deepest river canyon. Relatively warm water.
Cons: 
Jetboat traffic. Difficult permitting in peak season. Long shuttle.
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Region:
Hells Canyon + Seven Devils Mountains, OR
Average Gradient: 
12.00 ft/mi (2.27 m/km)
Route Characteristics: Character:
Pool Drop, Gorge, Open (Non-wooded)
Gauge URL: 
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?13290450
Overall difficulty: 
IV
II
III
IV
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Put-in location (lat, long coordinates): 
Hells Canyon Dam
Suitable for:
Kayaks, Rafts, Commercial Outfitters
Take-out location (lat, long coordinates): 
Pittsburg Landing
Total Distance: 
32.00 mi (51.50 km)
Current Local Weather:

Notable Hazards + River Information

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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Sponsored Contributor

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.

  • Wild Sheep: Large waves throughout with big holes at the bottom left and midway through the rapid on the right. Scout on river left.
  • Granite: One of the steepest rapids in the canyon. Multiple lines are available. Scout on river right.
  • Lower Bernard Creek Rapids: This rapid rovides an excellent surf spot at a variety of levels with eddy service on river right.

Permitting + Camping

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.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(2 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(13 within a 30 mile radius)

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