2020 Launch Dates:
April 28: Photography & Wildflowers
July 10: Plate & Pitchfork Gourmet Adventure
September 4: Fishtrap Writing Workshop
(*value season = 10% off adult rate)
Float the deepest river canyon in North America, the Snake River through Hells Canyon on our 4 day rafting adventure, which runs 51 miles through the heart of Hells Canyon, from Hells Canyon Creek to historic Dug Bar. Each trip begins and ends in Joseph, Oregon where round-trip transportation to and from the river is included in your trip cost. Run powerful class III and IV whitewater, the likes of Granite and Wild Sheep rapids. Visit historical sites, fish for prehistoric White Sturgeon, and let 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 seekers ages 7 and up.
2020 Snake River in Hells Canyon Rates & Dates
*We are able to accommodate multiple trip lengths in 1 launch with multiple take-outs
|3 Day||4 Day||5 Day||6 Day|
|Youth (18 & under)||$852||$1116||$1276||$1436|
3, 4, and 5 day (or 6 day) launches:
June 8, 16, 24, 28
July 2, 10, 18, 26
August 3, 11, 15, 19, 27
September 4, 12*
*value season = 10% off adult rate
Cancellation Policy: Your reservation will be confirmed after we receive a deposit of 50% of your total trip cost. Your trip balance will be due 30 days prior to your launch date. If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, you should notify Winding Waters River Expeditions in writing or by e-mail immediately. If written cancellation is received (call to verify) before the final balance is due, you will be given a refund less the amount of the deposit. Again, deposits are not refundable. If cancellations are made on or after the final due date, no money will be refunded. If you are unable to go on the trip, you are welcome to find a replacement for yourself. Please understand that once you’ve signed up, we lose the right to sell your reserved space to other individuals or groups. Therefore, we regret that we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we highly recommend buying Travelex Travel Insurance to protect your investment.
Winding Waters River Expeditions reserves the right, either prior to or after departure, in its good-faith discretion and in circumstances that warrant it, to change or re-price any trip. This includes the possibility of moving to a different river or river segment due to extreme water conditions, forest fires, road closures and/or acts of God. If we are not able to provide a substitute trip, river, or altered itinerary and have to cancel the departure completely, you will be refunded in full. Refunds are limited to the amount actually paid to Winding Waters River Expeditions.
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. And the last day, we do not recommend large travel plans. We will do our best to take-out on time, 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 our 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, fishing licenses and more.
Day 1 – Launch Day: Breakfast served at our boathouse at 7AM and depart by 7:30am. Travel in the Winding Waters’ van to Hells Canyon Creek Launch through the beautiful Wallowa-Whitman National Forest along the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. Meet your guide crew at the Launch Point. Depart by 11am following a brief risk management discussion. Lunch will be served riverside. Encounter rapids such as Wild Sheep and Granite on this first day with time to relax, fish, explore archaeological sites and take in the breathtaking views. Plan to be in camp by 4:00pm today. Expect an evening beginning with a delicious meal, followed by good conversation, games and merriment. Feel free to bring a musical instrument.
Day 2 – River Day: The morning routine: hot drinks and fruit juice served by about 7am and breakfast by 8am. The guide crew will break camp and after a brief discussion of the day’s plan, begin the day’s float by 10am. Today’s rapids include Bernard, Water Spout, and Rush Creek. Visit ancient pictograph sites, not so ancient homestead cabins, and jump from Sturgeon Rock. Lunch will again be served riverside today with camp arrival around 4pm. Expect another wonderful evening beginning with a delicious meal followed up with good conversation, games and merriment.
Day 3 – River Day: Morning routine. Today will be spent hiking to the overlook at Suicide Point, floating, scanning the slopes for wildlife, spotting the birds responsible for those beautiful songs, exploring historic Kirkwood Ranch, laughing and playing in the river. Lunch will again be served riverside with camp arrival being around 4pm. There is always time in camp to take a swim, go on a short hike, read a book, catch a fish, play Bocce Ball, or simply lay in a hammock. Expect another wonderful evening beginning with a delicious meal followed up with good conversation, games and merriment.
Day 4 – River/Take Out Day: Morning routine. Today pass Pittsburg Landing, the take out for our 3 day trips. Enter the lower canyon, where the canyon walls appear to crowd in, rising as far as the eye can see. The landscape changes every minute as our perspective changes. Big Horn Sheep, Bald and Golden Eagles are often spotted in these tight canyons. Lunch will be served riverside at historic Dug Bar, our take-out point for the trip. Learn why the Nez Perce chose this location to cross the Snake River when fleeing the Wallowa Mountain region while soaking up the last bit of river tranquility before your departure. Depending on the group size, plan to be flown, driven, or jet boated out of the canyon back to Joseph and our Boathouse. Arrival in Joseph is typically between 5pm and 7pm. Late arrivals can happen due to unforeseen circumstances. We do not recommend making large travel plans this evening.
Included in your Trip Cost are the following:
- Round-trip transportation to and from the river (includes either a jet boat ride, flight out of the canyon, or drive from take-out)
- Outstanding, fully catered guide service, along with all necessary equipment
- All camping equipment, including spacious tents and thick sleeping pads.
- All meals from departure to return
Put-In/Launch (Hells Canyon Creek, aka Hells Canyon Dam):
Take-Out (Dug Bar, OR):
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 7 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 15 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 typically use 4 different types of boats on this trip: oar boat, paddle raft, inflatable kayak, and stand-up paddle boards. On an oar boat, a guide rows the boat while you enjoy the scenery. In a paddle raft you are an active participant in paddling with others and a guide. An inflatable kayak is a single boat where you guide yourself with instruction if needed. A stand-up paddle board is basically a large surf board with a paddle.
Q: What equipment and services do you provide?
A: We provide the following equipment and services beyond guiding boats on every trip:
1. Paddle (if you’re on a paddle boat), PFD (life jacket), and helmet (for those riding in inflatable kayaks or stand-up paddle boards).
2. Camping Equipment: tents and sleeping pads. Sleeping bags can be provided at request.
3. Tents: We provide roomy 3 person tents (for 2 people) and have tents sizes for up to 5 people. We set up all tents, unless you request otherwise. 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: Can we fish on this trip?
A: Yes, the Snake River in Hells Canyon is an excellent fishery for Rainbow Trout and White Sturgeon. We can throw in fishing gear for while we’re floating, as long as it does not interfere with the group traveling in a timely manner down the river. We recommend an Oregon fishing license and you can purchase one either online (https://or.outdoorcentral.us/or/license) or from our Boathouse Store the night before your launch.
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 Weather & Water Page 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.
“My son and I did a 4 day Hells Canyon trip with Winding Waters. If you want to get away from society for a while a Hells Canyon trip is the place to go. It was a trip of a lifetime. The Guide and crew were great. My son loved all the fishing along the river, and the crew was always very patient and helpful with him. The minute we pulled up to shore he would be asking for a fishing pole and they were quick to get him going. He loved petting the 7ft sturgeon we caught the second day on the river. The food on the trip was great. Its amazing the things they prepare along the way. I would recommend a trip to anyone, and am thinking of doing another trip myself. ~Clifford, Bothell, WA
“We went with another family down the Snake River and it was one of the best trips we have taken. The staff was knowledgeable, fun loving, entertaining and could not have been anymore accommodating. The food was superb way beyond just the burgers and dogs fare. And the sights, sounds and physical landscapes were simply breath-taking! Paul, Penny, and Morgan run a first class operation and take great care of you from the moment you show interest to the unfortunate time when you have to leave. Can’t wait to do it again with our youngest who was too young to make the last trip. Highly recommended.” ~Eric, Norfolk, VA
Need more convincing? Check our reviews on Trip Advisor.