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Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Hells Canyon, North America's deepest river gorge, encompasses a vast and remote region in Idaho and Oregon with dramatic changes in elevation, terrain, climate and vegetation.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA) straddles the Snake River, which forms the boundary between Idaho and Oregon. The 652,488-acre recreation area was created by an act of Congress in 1975. Although the HCNRA includes portions of the Nez Perce, Payette, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, it is managed by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Carved by the great Snake River, Hells Canyon plunges more than a mile below Oregon's west rim, and 8,000 feet below snowcapped He Devil Peak of Idaho's Seven Devils Mountains. There are no roads across Hells Canyon's 10-mile wide expanse, and only three roads that lead to the Snake River between Hells Canyon Dam and the Oregon-Washington boundary.

This national showcase holds acres of beauty and adventure, where you can let your senses run as wild as the landscape. The deepest river gorge in North America. Scenic vistas that rival any on the continent. World-class whitewater boating. Spectacular mountain peaks. Vast reaches of remote wilderness. Exciting recreational opportunities. Diverse and abundant wildlife. Artifacts from prehistoric tribes and rustic remains of early miners and settlers...Hells Canyon National Recreation Area truly offers something for everyone, whether you choose to explore by driving a scenic byway, hiking a trail, or floating in a raft or jet boat.

About 67.5 miles of the Snake River in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area were designated in 1975 as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Here, the river is managed to preserve its free-flowing character and unique environment while providing for continued public use. The outstanding remarkable values for which the river was designated include: scenic, recreation, geologic, wildlife, fisheries, and cultural resources (historic & prehistoric).

If wild country is what you're after, then you've come to the right place. At lower elevations on the Idaho side, dry, barren, steep slopes break over into the Snake River canyon. In the high country are the towering peaks, rock-faced slopes, and alpine lakes of the Seven Devils Mountain Range - said to be named for a vision of seven dancing devils that appeared to an Indian lost in the area. The legend fits. Here, splendid mountain peaks rise well over 9,000 feet, and bear names like 'She Devil', 'He Devil", and "The Twin Imps'.

To learn more, visit the recreation areas's Life and Land section.

Idaho Forests

First-timer’s Adventure

Take a hike on the Nee-Me-Poo National Historic Trail in Oregon (#1727)

Take State Highway 350 from Joseph, OR approximately 30 miles to Imnaha. At the town of Imnaha, turn left onto the paved County Road #735 which turns into a steep, narrow dirt road, Forest Road #4260. This road is a rough, rugged road and is slippery when wet. High clearance vehicles are recommended, however passenger cars could travel this road under dry conditions. The trailhead is approximately 25 miles from the beginning of the dirt road. There is limited parking and no facilities available at the trailhead until you reach Dug Bar.

Click on the state for more hikes in Oregon or Idaho.

Statistics

State(s):

Idaho

Nearest Large Urban Area:

Boise

Notes & Conditions:

Check the Hells Canyon Recreation Report for fee, water availability, opening date, and current conditions.

Research campground locations and amenities at the U.S. National Forest Campground Directory. The Web site is full of pictures and detailed descriptions to help you plan your next trip.

If you want to experience a guided recreation trip in a National Forest, visit Adventure Vacation to learn about whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing trips.

Maps:

Visit the National Forest Store to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.