At Hells Canyon Raft, we offer overnight whitewater rafting trips from May through September. Each month of our season has unique characteristics, but all offer an outstanding experience. As you’re choosing the dates for your trip, we want to help you understand each time of the season. Don’t stress, though, because there is no bad time to be on the river. The 7,993-foot-deep Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest gorge, holds adventure and beauty every day of the season. As we always say, any time you’re on the river is the best time.
The flows, or river volume, on the Snake River through Hells Canyon are controlled by the upstream dam, which means that we have steady and consistent amounts of water through our entire season. This is a huge advantage, as most non-controlled rivers are very low by August or September. The Spring months of May and June have higher flows as upstream reservoirs fill up and contributing streams and creeks are on the rise. As we stretch through summer, river flows even out but are at consistent levels through the end of September.
Here are a few highlights and favorites for each of the months we’re privileged to take you down the river.
The canyon is alive with new growth. The slopes are glowing with a brilliant green. Cactus and desert flowers bloom and waterfalls spring from canyon walls. You’ll see baby deer, chukar and bears in tow behind their mamas. There are fewer travelers this time of year, so trips are sometimes smaller. Excitement is in the air as rafting season is finally underway and another amazing summer begins.
Temps: Highs in the 80s, lows in the 50s
Water: Spring runoff is controlled by Hells Canyon dam but water levels are still higher in May and June, so we can run our 81-mile trip in just 4 days. Rapids are their biggest in May and June and loads of fun! Water is 55 degrees.
Favorite Rapid in May: Cliff Mountain Rapid. It is Class III and is the first one we hit. You can actually see it from the put-in where we embark from, so anticipation builds as we get the trip ready to go! Once we bust through Cliff Rapid, we feel like the rafting season is really here. Watch us launch from the trip start.
The water remains high with snow melt runoff and the canyon is lush with flowers and green growth. The fruit extravaganza begins. Early homesteaders packed in fruit trees for their gardens. The trees have spread and now offer fresh fruit starting with mulberries, followed by cherries and then apricots. You’ll find these local, fresh fruits included in as many of our meals as possible, like apricot chutney on pork chops!
Temps: Highs average 80-90.
Water: Spring runoff is still in effect for most of June, allowing us to run our longer trips in fewer days for at least the first half of the month. Water temps are around 65.
Favorite rapid in June: Green room in Granite Creek, a Class IV rapid with a huge tongue drop followed by tons of lateral waves. Watch us drop into the Green Room and run Granite Creek!
Summer is in full swing with dry weather, killer fishing, and blackberry bushes heavy with their fruits. Blackberry pancakes or blackberries and brie, anyone? Local produce – including some raised in our own HCR greenhouses and gardens – is plentiful. Due to regulated dam releases, the whitewater is still big and a blast.
Temps: Highs average 90-100
Water: Fun, consistent, big whitewater. Our 81-mile Hells Canyon trip becomes a 5-day trip and our 34-mile trip is a 4-day trip. Water temps are around 70.
Favorite rapid in July: Class IV Wild Sheep, one of the most difficult in the canyon, is just about 5 miles into the trip, starting us off with a bang.
No dog days of summer here: August offers us perfect days and nights on the river. This month brings us exceptional fishing (including for 10-foot sturgeon!), great whitewater, and still tons of daylight. Fresh garden tomatoes, herbs and mounds of greens and berries are in your made-from-scratch meals. August is a perfect time for river trips.
Temps: Air temperatures remain 90-100, the nights get slightly cooler in the 50s and 60s.
Water: Temps average 72, which make it awesome for lengthy river play. Due to dam releases, river flows are steady and whitewater is still big and thrilling.
Favorite rapids: Bills Creek and Three Creeks. These class III rapids are found on the 2nd day. Large roller coaster wave trains provide a cooling splash on a hot day.
Heidi’s favorite month, the fishing in September is the best of the year (which is saying a lot considering how incredible the fishing is all summer long). The figs and apples are plentiful, and the canyon still has gorgeous summer weather through this month.
Temps: 80-90s during the day and 50-60 at night
Water: Awesome whitewater, temps about 72
Favorite rapid: Water Spout. Normal summertime flows make this one of the hardest class IV rapids to run. If you make your move early and catch the right line it offers a huge rolling wave train.
If you’re still trying to decide when the right time is to book your whitewater rafting trip with Hells Canyon Raft, give us a call. We’ll help guide you to the perfect trip in the perfect month for a perfect, unforgettable adventure!
We look forward to connecting with you and showing you all of our favorite things about a river trip in Hells Canyon.
- FRESH CHERRIES from your local homestead tree.
- Pick the cherries
- Pit them
- Eat them or bake/cook with them