During May and June the river flow is higher and faster which allows us to do the entire 81 miles in 4 days. There is still plenty of time for hiking, fishing, and exploring abandoned homesteads. This is a great way to see the entire river without committing to a longer trip.
The Day Before the Trip
Travel to Cambridge, ID. A representative from HCR will meet you at 7PM Mountain Time for a brief orientation. Watertight bags and containers will be distributed. You will have a chance to answer last minute questions. Dinner is on you own.
Stroll down the street to a HCR hosted breakfast at Bucky’s Café. Arrive at breakfast at 6:30AM. After breakfast we depart from the hotel by 8:00AM to the launch site in Hells Canyon. The guides have the boats ready to go. After a short safety orientation we finish strapping down our gear and launch for the trip of a lifetime. Today we run the two largest rapids on the river; Wildsheep and Granite Creek. A quick scout at each provides a view of the excitement to come, and a chance for the paddle boat and kayakers to receive last minute instructions.
We will also explore ancient Indian Pictographs, and an abandoned homestead at Bernard Creek. The McGaffee Family lived at Bernard creek from 1915 into the late 30s. Check out their Hells Canyon wallpaper made from old Saturday Evening Post magazines.
There is time for fishing from the boats, at lunch, and also when we arrive at camp. We bring all the gear to fish with.
Each day we stop for a riverside lunch break around noon. This is a great time to get to know the other guides and guests, fish a little, and usually we take a short hike.
We arrive in camp around 4-5:00. You walk up into camp to find your tents set and your gear bags packed up. There is time for relaxing, hiking, fishing, or reading a book from our Hells Canyon Raft Library.
Hors d’ oeuvres are served around 6ish, and dinner around 7:30. After dinner and a Dutch Oven desert there is time around the campfire to tell stories of conquered rapids, fish tails or roasting s’mores. The stars start to appear, inviting conversations with old and new friends. Soon it is time to wander off to your tent and bed.
You arise to the aroma of fresh coffee and sizzling bacon. Breakfast is served around 7:30 or 8:00. While the guides clean up the kitchen and other gear there is time to pack your personal gear. We will come around and take down your tents, as they are cleaned out. We usually get on the river about the same time the sun peaks over the canyon rim. Hells Canyon is the deepest gorge in North America, so it is about 9:30 before we see sun on the water.
After lunch and maybe some sturgeon fishing we cruise through some smaller rapids and calm water. This is a great time to try out the inflatable kayaks. Kirkwood Historic Ranch is on the agenda today. This was the home of former Idaho Governor and Senator Len Jordan. The Jordan family lived here during The Great Depression. Grace Jordan, Len’s wife, is the author of “Home Below Hells Canyon.”
Tonight’s camp is below Pittsburg Landing, which is where the 34 mile trip gets off the river. The guides always fish for sturgeon from camp, which can provide some great dinner time entertainment.
Today after breakfast you pack your personal gear and hit the water. We visit the site of the massacre of Chinese miners at China Creek. They were thought to have had a large cache of gold that was never found. Around lunch time we arrive to the place where Nez Perce Indian Chief Joseph’s tribe was forced to cross the river during the spring of 1877. They crossed the river safely with their families, all their belongings, and horses and cattle, in horsehide rafts pulled by swimming horses.
After lunch we pass two major tributaries to the Snake River. First the Imnaha River; here there is time for a beautiful short hike up the pounding Imnaha to the abandoned Mountain Chief Mine Tunnel. Next we come to the impressive confluence of the Snake and Salmon Rivers. The river doubles in volume. We usually try to camp in this area.
By now you have a true grasp of “River Time.” There will be more time for playing on the beach, hanging out in the shade, followed by another evening of laughter echoing off the canyon wall.
The river still has more to share. There are small rapids and some amazing scenery as the river canyon opens up to grassy mountainsides. Watch for Rocky Mountain big horn sheep, and reflect on the journey that is coming to an end. Depending on the river flow we may join the rafts together and use a small quiet outboard motor cover some of today’s miles.
We stop on a beach for our final lunch, and group photos. Email addresses are exchanged for sharing photos. Plans are made for a reunion trip next season. A few more miles and we arrive at Heller Bar, our take out. We say our good byes.
It’s a quick 45 minute ride back to Lewiston. Time for a hot shower, and a change of clothes. Most all guests will plan to fly out the next morning. If you are flying out of Lewiston there is a free shuttle to the airport. If your flight is out of Spokane it is two hours’ drive from Lewiston. If you had your vehicle shuttled from Cambridge to Lewiston, it will be waiting in the hotel parking lot.
4 day trips to Hellar Bar – 81 Miles
If you fly:
The day before the trip fly into Boise, ID. We will arrange transportation from the airport to Cambridge, ID.
At the end of the trip we include transportation from the take-out to Lewiston, ID. You can fly out of Lewiston, ID or Spokane WA. Lewiston is serviced by Delta Airlines, and Alaska Airline. Spokane is a 2 hour drive from Lewiston. It is easiest to rent a car in Lewiston and drive it one way to Spokane. We can also arrange a cab or group transportation. Spokane is serviced by most of the major airlines. Southwest Airlines services both Boise and Spokane, and quite often is a good option.
If you drive:
Meet in Cambridge, ID by 7PM Mountain Time. We can arrange to have your vehicle shuttled to Lewiston, ID.
Driving Directions from Boise to Cambridge:
Take I-84 West, Fruitland/HWY 95, Exit 3 to Cambridge (about 50 minutes after you leave I-84.)
Driving Directions from Baker City, OR to Cambridge:
Take I-84 East for 49 miles to Hwy. 201, Exit 356. Turn left onto Weiser Spur/US-95 Spur N. Continue to follow US-95 Spur N (Crossing into Idaho). Follow signs to US 95 North. It takes you through the town of Weiser, ID. Take Hwy 95 North 45 minutes to Cambridge.
We are happy to store extra luggage at the HCR office. We will pick it up from you in Cambridge on the first morning of the trip. At the end of the trip our equipment truck will have your luggage waiting for you at Heller Bar.
Book your Trips online
Deposit per booking, what you pay now: Adult/Child » $400 Trip Cost per booking: Adult » $1290, Child » $1115
Trips can be tentatively reserved for 7 days. Reservations are confirmed upon a receipt of a deposit. We accept deposits by check, money order, Visa, and/or MasterCard. When we receive your completed reservation form and deposit we will send your confirmation receipt, a detailed packing list, and travel information. Reservation forms may be filled out online on our website or simply call us.
The balance is due 45 days prior to the launch date of your trip. If final payment is not received when due, we reserve the right to regard the reservation canceled.
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. You will be given a refund less the deposit if you cancel 45 days prior to departure. If cancellations are made on or after the final payment due date, no money will be refunded unless we fill the trip. In that case we will refund your payment less the deposit amount. You are welcome to find a replacement for yourself.
We recommend you consider purchasing trip insurance.