A Hells Canyon whitewater trip on the Snake River is an experience that activates all the senses. You’ll feel the power of the rolling river, hear the rhythmic sounds of rushing water, smell nature’s abundance in the canyon wilderness, and taste impossibly delicious gourmet meals served riverside. But for many guests (and guides alike) it’s the incredible things you SEE on this adventure that will stick in your memories for years to come.
A five-day trip follows a single river through the canyon, but the views and vistas along the route are ever-changing. Here, we share a few of our favorites to give you a preview the visual surprises around every corner.
The ‘wow’ moments begin before you even hit the river on Day One. At the Hells Canyon Dam launch point, you’ll immediately feel the depth of the canyon, as huge rocky canyon walls rise on both sides of the river and pull your raft in to the first rapid.
This narrow part of the canyon produces some of the most exciting whitewater of the entire trip. After a heart-pumping morning of running rapids and a mid-day leg-stretcher exploring an old homestead, the pace slows and offers a chance to pause and soak in the plentiful beauty.
Come late afternoon, you’ll settle in near Oregon Hole, a spot that offers the perfect setting to fish, relax and enjoy the inspiring view back up the canyon.
The views from river level are rewarding all on their own, but a Hells Canyon Raft trip doesn’t just stick to the canyon floor. Each day, our guides will help you safely explore historical sites and amazing vistas like Eagle’s Nest, where a change in elevation brings added appreciation of the scale of the canyon walls and the diversity of wildlife that inhabits them.
As the river winds and rolls, the canyon widens and narrows, which means the views and vistas offer something new around every turn.
Another favorite spot for a photo op or some quiet reflection is Suicide Point. This stunning cliffside vista, 400 feet above the river, is also the stuff of legends.
No Snake River whitewater trip is complete without the telling of the legends and lore of specific sites. Suicide Point has all the makings of a classic tale of romance and tragedy. No one tells its story quite like the guides from Hells Canyon Raft and there’s no better place to soak it all in than standing or sitting on this majestic perch.
Fun Fact: Owner Heidi says it was Kurt’s rendition of this tale of forbidden love that made her fall in love with him. They’re still married and immersed in the romance of the river some 21 years later.
It would be unfair to reveal ALL the secrets of your Hells Canyon river trip ahead of time, but there’s one other spot we couldn’t resist adding to this preview because of it’s awe-inspiring impact on ALL of your senses:
For the first three days of the journey, the Snake River puts on a spectacular solo performance. Starting on Day Four, a symphony of waterways joins the show. First, the pounding rhythm of the Imnaha River lays down a fresh, beautiful bassline. Then, for the finale, the free-flowing Salmon River kicks up the melody as the river doubles in volume.
The beauty of this moment provides more than just breath-taking scenery. Some guests describe the merging of the two majestic rivers as a spiritual, almost mystical, experience. Which just goes to show, pictures may be worth a thousand words, but the magic of Hell’s Canyon is something you need to experience in person to truly understand.