Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Overview

Introduction

This incredibly deep canyon—its walls rise 7,900 ft/2,400 m from the floor—was formed by the Snake River. Outdoor enthusiasts go there for white-water rafting, fishing and the extremely rugged landscape. Access to the area is not easy, however. There are a number of lookout points on the Oregon side of the canyon (the Snake forms the Oregon-Idaho border). Several of them are seen by taking the road out of Imnaha: At the end of the road is the precipitous Hat Point Overlook. The Hells Canyon Overlook is reached by taking Highway 86 east out of Baker City and then by picking up forest roads 39 and 3965. If you continue on Highway 86, you can cross the river at the Oxbow Dam and then continue to the Hells Canyon Dam. (Check road conditions before you undertake these drives, and be aware that some areas will be impassable in the winter and spring.)

The most impressive views of the canyon are seen by taking a boat trip on the river. The adventurous can raft or kayak down the Snake, while others can take a jet-boat tour that leaves from Lewiston, Idaho. 305 mi/490 km southeast of Portland.

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