Snake River Rafting
Hells Canyon

Hell's Canyon

Don Barrett

Memories of a lifetime will be made when you go on a Snake River rafting trip through Hells Canyon, the deepest river canyon in North America.

Carved by the Snake River over thousands of years, the canyon's west rim on the Oregon side rises more than a mile.  On the east side is the state of Idaho and equally rugged country. The land on each side of the Snake River is mostly inaccessible except by foot or by horse with few  very rugged roads running through it.  This was the land of the Nez Perce Indians.

Snake River Rapids

Nick Myers

When you raft the Snake River you will not only experience Class 3 and Class 4 whitewater rapids but some of the most spectacular scenery along the walls of the canyon.  June is the month when you will see wildflowers in bloom and when you are more likely to see deer and elk.  But during the other summer months you will still see indian petroglyphs, pictographs, wild sheep, eagles, and other wildlife.
In between the rapids are long stretches of calm water when you can just relax and enjoy the scenery. You won't always be sitting in a raft soaking up the sun but can take short hikes to explore such things as an old cabin with a root cellar that was abandoned long ago by a homesteader and the Kirkwood Historic Ranch where sheep were once raised.

Big Horn Sheep

Base Camp Baker

You will see the ford used by Chief Joseph when he led his people of the Nez Perce tribe in their attempt to escape to Canada in 1877.

Plus there is the swimming, trout fishing, campfires, starry nights, and no crowds.

It is not recommended that you attempt to raft this area alone.  You need a guide and you need a permit.  The best choice is to choose one of the rafting tour companies.  They know what they are doing, have the right equipment, and take care of all your needs without damaging the environment.

Trips are available from one day on up to seven days.  They begin at the Hells Canyon Dam Information Center on the Oregon side.  Your car will be shuttled to your trip ending point or you can take a jet boat back to where you started.

Rafting Tour Companies

Row Adventures

Zoller's Outdoor Odysseys

Killgore Adventures

If you take a snake river rafting trip, you will start out on the river somewhere between 9 am and 10 am depending on the tour company.  You will need to be there at least half an hour before the tour begins so that means you need to stay overnight at the closest point possible. Now in eastern Oregon the closest point is often 20 miles or more and that is the case here.  You will need to allow for 2 1/2 hours to three hours driving time from where you spend the night. Just remember the roads are not the best.  If you plan on taking an RV into the area, discuss it with your tour company as to whether it is feasible or not.  Also be aware that GPS is almost useless out here.  GPS could put you on some rancher's private road leading to nowhere.

Check out the hotels and inns in these towns:

Baker City, Oregon

Halfway, Oregon

Joseph, Oregon

Cambridge, Idaho

Here is a video of a jet boat trip through Hells Canyon.  It shows you what the river and the rapids are like including a raft going through some rapids. In the beginning you see some beautiful big horn sheep. The fish they catch on this trip is a Sturgeon.

Snake River Rafting