A whitewater rafting trip on the Snake River in Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in North America, combines the awesome thrill of class III and IV whitewater with breathtaking scenery, hiking, and wildlife and cultural history viewing opportunities. With a depth of nearly 8,000 feet, Hells Canyon frames the mountainous border of Oregon and Idaho. The complex geology of the Seven Devils Mountain Range in Idaho and Hells Canyon creates a wonderland of towering basalt cliffs and granite promontories.
While the Snake River in Hells Canyon offers world-class whitewater rapids like Granite, Wild Sheep, and Waterspout rapids, it also offers outstanding fishing opportunities for Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, and perhistoric White Sturgeon. Cast a line between the big rapids in one of the myriad of pools and riffles. Your guides at Winding Waters River Expeditions know just where to put you to catch the fish of your dreams!
Hidden among the forests and open grassy slopes, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, mountain goats, elk, and Black Bear roam this wild country. The vast elevation changes in the canyon provide excellent habitat for all types of flora and fauna, from Bald Eagles nesting in Ponderosa Pines to River Otters sunbathing on the river banks.
During a Hells Canyon whitewater rafting trip, we will also hike and explore the rich cultural history of the river corridor. Native American pit houses, rock shelters, and pictograph sites reveal an important part of the canyon’s legacy. Turn-of-the-century pioneers have also left numerous cabins and homestead sites to visit.
This river’s history of “rafting” extends deep into geologic time, long before humans started roaming the landscape. This region of Northeast Oregon and western Idaho formed as volcanic islands (exotic terranes) near the present day Aleutian Islands some 300 million years ago. Eventually through plate movement the chain of volcanic islands eventually “rafted” onto North America (Idaho was the coast then) between 120 and 80 million years ago. When this collision occurred, the exotic terranes were “glued” to North America. Hells Canyon was one of the key regions in discovering this fascinating geologic origin. Your guides will discuss some of the features which led geologists to build this theory.
Another origin story from the Nez Perce Indian legend claims Coyote dug Hells Canyon with a big stick to protect their ancestors in Oregon’s Blue mountains from the Seven Devils across the gorge in what is now Idaho. Hells Canyon’s beauty and vastness is legendary. Come see it for yourself.