Science Explains How A Hells Canyon Raft Trip Can Heal Your Mind & Body

We all know how good being in nature can make us feel. The sounds of a river, the sunlight dancing on rippling water, the fresh clean air – all these things ease our stress, help us relax and give us a sense of calm. In spite of all that, we live in a society where people spend more and more time indoors and online, both during their working hours and their leisure time.

Did you know:

The average American spends 93% of his or her time indoors?

That even when people are on vacation, more than 60% say they keep working remotely?

And as we ALL know, a poorly planned vacation can lead to even more stress. So if our precious vacation time is limited, how do we maximize its stress-reducing effects?

A growing collection of scientific studies show that a well-planned, multi-day experience that allows you to disconnect from life’s frenetic pace – IN NATURE — can have profound impacts on our brains and behavior. These studies take some important concerts that nature lovers have known for a long time, and back them up with science. A few key findings:


#1. Nature Can Heal Your Brain

“Scientists have known for some time that the human brain’s ability to stay calm and focused is limited and can be overwhelmed by the constant noise and hectic, jangling demands of city living, sometimes resulting in a condition informally known as brain fatigue,” according to a New York Times report.

In contrast, natural settings invoke “soft fascination.” That means natural environments still engage the brain, but the attention demanded is effortless. And according to neuro-scientists, periods of “soft fascination” can help your brain recover from brain fatigue and literally make you more creative and better at solving problems. There is a catch, though: Brain scans show that people who are IN nature, but are distracted by things like phone calls and texts are not experiencing “soft fascination” and are negating nearly 100% of the benefits compared to those who’ve unplugged from their devices.

#2. Exposure to Natural Beauty Can Make You a Kinder Person

A series of experiments done at UC Berkeley studied the potential impact of nature on the willingness to be generous, trusting and helpful toward others. Participants exposed to subjectively beautiful nature scenes were more willing to engage in helpful tasks than those who weren’t. A similar experiment was conducted at UC Irvine. Participants staring up a grove of tall trees for as little as one minute experienced measurable increases in awe, and demonstrated more helpful behavior and approached moral dilemmas more ethically than participants who spent the same amount of time looking up at a high building.

#3 Remote Locations & Water Are Even More Restorative

A lot of these studies involve urban green spaces, but adding a splash of ‘blue’ to your nature experience can amplify the healing effects. Marine and freshwater environments may even be slightly more restorative than green spaces – and – there is value in trekking to remote locations. A study out of the UK found that people reported more connection to nature and felt more restored after visiting remote areas with an abundance of wildlife…just like our river canyons.

#4 Three or More Days Away May Be the Sweet Spot

All of this begs the question, how long do we need to be out in nature to maximize these positive effects? Research hasn’t confirmed that yet, but leaders in the field say longtime backpackers suggest it takes a minimum of three days to fully disconnect from our over-connected lives.

When we read all this research on the healing power of nature, we couldn’t help but get excited. Why?

  • Hells Canyon Raft trips range from 3-6 days long
  • You will COMPLETELY unplug from technology on the river (People do bring their phones to use the cameras, but there is no internet, and the only ‘service’ available is on our guides’ Sat phones)
  • You’ll be surrounded by awe-inspiring natural beauty the entire time

And for those who caught that part about a poorly planned vacation leading to more stress instead of less? When you book a trip with Hells Canyon Raft, we take care of ALL the details.

The Hells Canyon Raft Experience

Our guides will cater to your needs while you’re on the river, we give you a thorough packing list to make sure you bring everything you need from home, and we even arrange pre- and post-arrival logistics like hotel rooms so you don’t end up encountering any unnecessary hassles.

Our goal is for you to be able to soak in each and every moment of your trip without thinking too hard about what’s around the bend or where the next available camp spot is. This means we’re planning every oar stroke, prepared to stop at some of the best beaches for lunch and photo ops and always ready to share the best hikes to take in each night’s sunsets. One of the best parts of our jobs is taking people on their very first river trip, and one of the best parts of going down a river for the first time with a guide is that you’ll be under the care of a literal walking/talking/rowing encyclopedia of river knowledge. And…nothing beats being handed a steaming cup of coffee while you watch the sun crest over the canyon wall in the morning.

So if being outdoors helps us relieve stress, gives us energy, makes us happier and more creative and helps us be kind to others — and if the HCR team takes care of all the details — the only thing left to consider is which trip you want to take.

For a quick look at all the options, follow these links and click on the ‘Description’ tab:

Hells Canyon Snake River Trips

3 Days – 34 miles

4 Days – 34 miles

4 Days – 81 Miles

5 Days – 81 Miles

6 Days – 81 miles

View All Hells Canyon Snake River Options

Salmon River Canyon “Lower Salmon” Trips

4 Days – 62 miles

5 Days – 73 miles

View All Lower Salmon Raft Trip Options

And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call or email (yes, on that tech we’ve been talking about). Your chance to disconnect and re-energize your body and spirit is, ironically, just a phone call away.

(208) 634-6366

Contact via email


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