2021 Launch Dates:
Float the deepest river canyon in North America, the Snake River through Hells Canyon on this 4 day fishing expedition, targeting Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout and White Sturgeon. This Fishing and whitewater rafting trip runs 32 miles through the heart of Hells Canyon, from Hells Canyon Dam to Pittsburg Landing in Idaho. Each trip begins in Joseph, Oregon, and ends at Pittsburg Landing, where we will have your vehicle shuttled for the end of the trip. Run world-class, powerful class III and IV whitewater, the likes of Granite and Wild Sheep rapids. Fish for Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout and White Sturgeon in this world-class Bass fishery. Our guides are experienced at guiding/teaching all skill levels from beginner to advanced and are happy to accommodate both Fly Fisherman and Spin Casters. This is a perfect trip for the experienced angler and the 12 year old first time angler. There have been a many “First Fish Evers” on this trip.
In addition to catching your fill, you will also have the opportunity to run some amazing whitewater, take a short hike, spot wildlife, and visit many historical sites while our guides take care of your every last need. And we’d like to mention that our gourmet menu is capstoned with locally raised and grown ingredients when available. We are happy to accommodate most dietary needs upon request. A perfect trip for adventure-seeking anglers ages 12 and up.
The following itinerary is a “typical” trip. Please know that natural occurrences happen on the river (large groups may move slower than smaller groups, etc.). We do our best to keep the trip moving along, but know we may not meet these times exactly. We will do our best to take-out on time on the last day, but natural occurrences like wind can foil the best laid plans.
Day 0 – Arrival Day: Meet at 6pm at the Winding Waters’ Boathouse in Joseph, OR for a pre-trip orientation to have introductions, discuss trip logistics, receive personal dry-bags, and answer remaining questions. Visit our Boathouse Shop for any last minute items for your trip, including sunscreen, river shirts, river hats, and more.
Day 1 – Launch Day: Grab and go Breakfast served at our boathouse at 7AM and depart by 7:15am. Drive your vehicle to Hells Canyon Dam through the beautiful Wallowa-Whitman National Forest along the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. Meet your guide crew at the Dam. Launch by 10:30am following a brief risk management discussion. Get your rods rigged up and get them in the water asap. Spend the day fishing your way down about 5 miles to the first nights’ camp. Lunch will be served riverside. Plan to be in camp by 4:00pm today. Expect an evening beginning with a delicious meal, followed by good conversation, fish tales, games and merriment. Feel free to bring a musical instrument.
Day 2 – Fishing Day: The morning routine: hot drinks and fruit juice served by about 6:00am and breakfast by 7:30am. The guide crew will break camp and after a brief discussion of the day’s plan, begin the day’s float between 9 and 10am. There will be more great fishing today as well as the opportunity to visit a few pictograph sites, explore some old mining and ranching cabins, and run some amazing whitewater. Lunch will again be served riverside today with camp arrival between 3 and 5pm. Expect another wonderful evening beginning with a delicious meal followed up with good conversation, games and merriment.
Day 3 – Fishing Day:The morning routine: hot drinks and fruit juice served by about 6:00am and breakfast by 7:30am. The guide crew will break camp and after a brief discussion of the day’s plan, begin the day’s float between 9 and 10am. There will be more great fishing today as well as the opportunity to visit a few pictograph sites, explore some old mining and ranching cabins, and run some amazing whitewater. Lunch will again be served riverside today with camp arrival between 3 and 5pm. Expect another wonderful evening beginning with a delicious meal followed up with good conversation, games and merriment.
Day 4 – River/Take Out Day: Today will be spent Fishing, floating, visiting the historic Kirkwood Ranch, scanning the slopes for wildlife, spotting the birds responsible for those beautiful songs, and giggling over how many fish you are catching. Lunch will again be served riverside. Take out at Pittsburg Landing around 2pm, where your vehicle will be waiting for you. Say goodbye to your guide crew and other new friends.
Included in your Trip Cost:
- Outstanding, fully catered guide service, along with all necessary equipment
- All camping equipment, including spacious tents, thick sleeping pads & cots
- Sleeping bags available by request
- All meals from departure to lunch on the last day
- Shuttle for your vehicle from Hells Canyon Dam to Pittsburg Landing, ID
Put-In/Launch (Hells Canyon Creek, aka Hells Canyon Dam):
Take-Out (Pittsburg Landing, ID):
Q: What type of fishing license do I need?
A: A 4 day Oregon fishing license. You can purchase one online prior to your trip by Googling “Buy Oregon Fishing License Online”.
Q: If we bring our own rod, what weight do you recommend?
A: For summer Rainbow Trout and Smallmouth Bass fishing, we use 5 weight fly rods and medium action 6ft spinning rods.
Q: Do you need experience to go on this whitewater rafting trip, or can you take beginners?
A: The wonderful thing about rafting with an outfitter is that you do not need any experience. When joining a whitewater rafting trip with Winding Waters, guests are at ease knowing we have trained, professional guides who know the river. The level of difficulty of a river is based on the character of its whitewater rapids. The Snake River in Hells Canyon has class III-IV whitewater and is a pool and drop, stair-step river. Stair-stepping means there will be a pool, then a drop where we find our rapids. We have taken many novices down this river and they have felt very safe in our hands.
Q: What’s the youngest age you can take on this trip?
A: We can take children ages 12 and up. We have child-sized US Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFD’s). We’re happy to consult with parents about any specific questions.
Q: Can we charter a private trip? How many people do we need?
A: We are glad to offer private charter trips to groups of 6 or more. A charter trip means that your group makes up all of the trip’s participants. We do not sell that trip departure to any outside guests. Contact us today for available dates: 877.426.7238.
Q: What time and where do I meet for my trip? Where is the nearest airport?
A. Pre-Trip Meeting Place and Time: Winding Waters Boathouse in Joseph, OR @ 6PM the night before your launch.
* Nearest Airports: Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport, Lewiston, ID, Boise Airport, ID, and Walla Walla Regional Airport, WA
* Shuttle Service: Rent a car from one of these airports or contact us for potential pick-up. We provide round-trip transportation to and from the river for most of our trips once you arrive in Joseph.
Q: Can you advise us on tipping/gratuities?
A:We treat our tipping discussion with great care. Our guide crew will work very hard to make your vacation the best it can be. If you wish to tip, we recommend treating it like a restaurant (anywhere from 10-15% of your trip cost for the crew). You can either give your lead guide cash at the end of the trip or put it on your credit card. The gratuities will then be distributed among the guide crew. Give us a call if you wish to discuss further. And please know tips are not expected.
Q: What kind of boats do you use on this trip?
A: We will have a gear boat to haul the camp equipment and inflatable rafts rigged with fishing stands to fish out of.
Q: What equipment and services do you provide?
A: We provide the following equipment and services beyond guiding boats on every trip:
1. PFD (life jacket), and helmet (for those riding in inflatable kayaks or stand-up paddle boards).
2. Camping Equipment: tents, cots and sleeping pads. Sleeping bags can be provided at request.
3. Tents: We provide roomy 4 person tents (for 2 people). But the real joy is sleeping under the stars…
4. Meals are prepared in our complete camp kitchen and you will dine at tables with tablecloths, chairs, plates, silverware, and napkins. We take care of all aspects of food prep, from cooking to dish clean-up.
Q: What kind of clothing should I wear/bring?
A: During the day, quick drying shorts and tops work best. For your feet, synthetic sandals like Chacos work great that have straps to hold them to your feet. We do not recommend flip-flops. In the evenings and mornings, we recommend warmer layers, including a fleece jacket, pants, socks, and closed-toed shoes (like tennis shoes). Additionally, shoes for hikes are recommended.
You can purchase river shirts, river hats, sunblock, sunglasses, and other items in our Boathouse Shop prior to your trip.
Q: What about bathrooms while we’re on the river?
A: We have you covered. We follow “Leave No Trace” minimum impact camping and traveling etiquette on all river trips. The bathroom facility we use is called the River Bank Toilet System. When in camp, we set up the toilet in a separate, private area, complete with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. The guides will explain all of the details of how to use it.
Q: What advice do you have regarding batteries for camera equipment and keeping camera equipment dry?
A: A: If you want to bring your portable video camera and/or digital camera, but are concerned about batteries running out, you have 2 options. One, bring extra batteries (at least 2 more than you think you’ll need). Two, bring a portable solar-powered battery recharger. They do exist and we’re pleased to report- they do work! As for keeping your electronic equipment dry, we provide small dry bags that stay with you on the boat during the day. We also sell small hard-shell, water-tight, and padded Pelican cases in our Boathouse Shop.
Q: What kind of weather and water temperatures are typical on this trip?
A: Visit our <a title=”Weather & Water” href=”https://www.windingwatersrafting.com/trip-planning/weather-water/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Weather & Water Page</a> for information on air temperature and water flows for different times in the year. Water temps generally range from mid 60’s to mid 70’s.
Q: Do I need to be a strong swimmer to come on your trips? What if one or more in my group doesn’t know how to swim?
A: You do not need to be a strong swimmer, or even know how to swim to enjoy a river trip with Winding Waters River Expeditions. All participants are required to wear a US Coast Guard-approved PFD, or personal floatation device (back in the old days, we called ’em Life Jackets). These high buoyancy jackets are designed to keep your head above water should you find yourself having an out of boat experience. Now, that said, if you do not know how to swim and you are afraid of water – river rafting is probably not going to be your cup of tea. Small children (ages 5-10) typically aren’t good developed swimmers, yet they love our trips. We have child-sized PFD’s and look after our smallest guests with great zest and joy.