Hells Canyon

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Snake River, Idaho

Hells Canyon River Rafting Guide

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This guide was built by ROW Adventures. Based out of Coeur d’Alene, ID, ROW runs whitewater rafting trips throughout the west. Learn more about ROW Adventures here.

About this guide

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Safety

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Permits

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Hells Canyon Boat Launch to Heller Bar – Class II, III & IV

Running nearly 80 miles to Heller Bar, Hells Canyon is considered a must-do multi-day rafting trip.

Mile 247 – Hells Canyon Boat Launch at Hells Canyon Dam

River Left. A long boat ramp. At the boat launch you’ll find imited parking and a bathroom.

II
Mile 246.5 – Cliff Mountain Rapids

Class II. Stay off the rock face on river right, current pushes into wall.

Mile 245.9 – Stud Creek Campsite

River Left. Large Group, Shade amongst the trees.

Mile 245.8 – Lamont Springs Campsite

River Right. Large Group, Beach.

Mile 245.2 – Square Beach Campsite

River Right. Small Group, Beach.

II
Mile 244.8 – Brush Creek Rapids

Roller Coaster Wave Train – read and run

Mile 244.7 – Brush Creek Campsite

River Right. Sandy beach below the mouth of the creek. Medium Group

Mile 243.6 – Rocky Point Campsite

River Right. Medium Group – shade

II
Mile 243.6 – Rocky Point Rapids

Roller Coaster Wave Train – read and run – left of center

Mile 243.4 – Chimney Bar

River Right. Large Group – Shade

Mile 243.1 – Warm Springs Pit House Depressions

Depressions from Native American Pit House Dwellings – Please be respectful of cultural heritage when visiting this site.

Mile 243 – Warm Springs Campsite

River Right. Large Group – Rocky Beach Landing – Shade

Mile 242.4 – Barton Cabin

River Left. Historic Homesteaders Cabin Built in 1932 by Ralph Barton.

Mile 242.4 – Barton Cabin Stop

River Left. Catch this eddy to walk up to the Barton Cabin

Mile 242.3 – Battle Creek Campsite

River Left. Large group – shade.

Mile 241.8 – Sand Dunes Campsite

River Left. Small Group – Sandy beach at some water levels.

Mile 241.5 – Birch Springs Campsite

River Right. Medium Group – Rocky Beach

Mile 241.2 – Wild Sheep Scout and Campsite

River Left. Medium Group – Rocky Beach

IV
Mile 241.2 – Wild Sheep Rapid

Large waves and hydraulics and the longest rapid on the river. Scouting from river left highly recommended. The line here changes at different water levels. At most flows, the run is enter river left and pull hard to center. T-up to the big breaking laterals coming off the left towards the bottom. At high water there is a river right run through powerful waves and hydraulics.

Mile 240.4 – Rock Bar Campsite

River Right. Large group – rocky beach.

Mile 239.6 – Upper Granite Creek Campsite

River Right. Large Group – Landing in rocky cove. Camp sits on bench above the creek.

Mile 239.5 – Lower Granite Creek Campsite

River Right. Large Group – Land towards the end of the bench. Campsite is up on the bench above the river.

Mile 239.3 – Granite Rapids Scout

River Right. Scouting is highly recommended. Follow the path along the base of the cliffs for a good overlook over the rapid. Stop and admire the pictographs along the trail, please respect these cultuatlly important artifacts and do not touch.

IV
Mile 239.2 – Granite Rapid

A relatively short rapid with impressive hydraulics. Lines change at different flows. A large rock submerged in the middle of the river creates a huge feature. At flows under 20,000 CFS the standard line is river left past the big drop, then follow the tongue back to center. At around 19,000 cfs and above an exciting line opens up in the middle of the river known as the green room, hit it just right or risk giant boat flipping laterals to your right and your left. There is also a river right line at certain flows.

Mile 239.1 – Cache Creek Campsite

River Left. Large Group – Campsite on grassy bench high above the river. Landing is in swift current.

III
Mile 238.2 – Three Creek Rapid

Read and run wave train.

III
Mile 235.2 – Bernard Creek Rapid

Fun wave train that can get quite squirely and splashy. Scout dependent on experience.

IV
Mile 233.7 – Waterspout Rapid

River mile 234. Class III or IV depending on water levels. There is a rock at the lower end of the rapid just left of center that creates a large hole at certain water levels. Higher water levels will wash out some of this rapid. Best to scout from the Oregon side (river left).

III
Mile 233.2 – Bill Creek Rapid

Read and run wave train rapid.

Mile 231.8 – Sluice Creek

This is an air landing strip with dispersed camping allowed. Great for large groups. Can be a difficult landing because of strong currents. Set up early.

IV
Mile 231.4 – Rush Creek Rapids

This series of rapids is indicated by a large rock at the top of the rapids in the center of the river. This rock create a large hole that create turbulent water at all levels

Mile 229.9 – Johnson Bar Landing

Large group, sandy beach.

III
Mile 229.6 – Sheep Creek Rapids

Some rocks to avoid throughout. Read and run.

Mile 229.4 – Sheep Creek

Pull in at the creek. Camp is on the upstream side of the creek. Water is avaiable here.

Mile 229.3 – Sheep Creek Cabin

Historical homestead from 1884.

Mile 227.5 – Pine Bar

Large Group, beach with shade.

Mile 226.6 – Yreka Bar

Large group, shady camp, river right.

Mile 226.5 – Upper Quartz Creek

Large group, rocky beach, little shade.

Mile 226.2 – Lower Quartz Creek

Large group, beach, some shade.

Mile 226.2 – Upper Sand Creek

Medium size group, beach with no shade.

Mile 225.2 – Caribou Creek

Large group site with shade. Located just below Caribou Creek

Mile 224.5 – Dry Gulch

Large group, great beach with shade.

Mile 223.7 – Temperance Creek Ranch

An old sheep ranch. Camping is prohibited.

Mile 222.8 – Suicide Point

Hiking trail on river right (Idaho side). Climb roughly 400 feet above the river gaining spectacular views. Be alert for rattlesnakes on the trail.

Mile 222.6 – Salt Creek

Large group, beach with shade and water from Salt Creek.

Mile 222 – Gracie Bar

Large group site with shade, good landing.

Mile 221.6 – Half Moon Bar

Small site best for a small group. Easy landing to this camp.

Mile 221 – Slaughter Gulch

Large group site with an easy landing.

Mile 220.7 – Kirkwood Historic Ranch

A historic ranch, museum, and interpretive site that is staffed year round. No drinking water but there are toilets. Communication is aviable to report on river emergencies or fires.

Mile 220.3 – Kirkwood Bar Campsites

Four large group camp sites with toilets, tables, and shade. These campsites are accessible by river or by an easy walk from Kirkwood Ranch.

Mile 220 – Yankee Bar

Small group beach camp with little shade.

Mile 219.6 – Russel Bar

Large group site with some shade.

III
Mile 218.9 – Kirby Creek Rapids

Large wave train. Read and run.

Mile 218.3 – Cat Gulch

Small beach camp with shade best for medium sized groups.

Mile 216.4 – Fish Trap Bar

Large group sandy beach site.

Mile 216.3 – Upper Pittsburg Landing

Six campsites accessible by road. There are tables, toilets, some shade and no water here.

Mile 214.9 – Pittsburg Landing

Road acceesible boat launch. theres a visitors information center where you can report fire and other emergencies. No camping is available here.

Mile 213.6 – Wild & Scenic River Boundary

Thanks to the Wild & Scenic River Act of 1968, from this point the river going north is considered scenic, and the river south of this point is considered wild.

III
Mile 213.5 – Pleasant Valley Rapids

Rocks above the rapids indicate the beginning of Pleasant Valley. Tubulent water that creates Class II or III rapids depending on water level. Read and run.

Mile 213 – Proposed Pleasant Valley Dam

Proposed Pleasant Valley dam site from 1954. Yellow paint on both sides of the canyon indicate the exact proposed location and height.

Mile 212.4 – Davis Creek

Medium group camp with an easy landing.

Mile 212 – McCarty Creek

Medium group camp.

Mile 210.6 – Big Canyon

Large group camp site with water and shade available.

Mile 210.4 – Lower Big Canyon

Small group sandy beach camp.

Mile 209.8 – Camp Creek

Large group sandy beach site.

Mile 209.4 – Tyron Creek

Large group site with water and shade available.

Mile 208 – Lookout Creek

Large group site with minimal shade.

Mile 205.4 – Copper Creek Resort

Large lodge with cabins under special use permit. Camping is prohibited here.

Mile 204.5 – Bob Creek

Large group sandy beach

Mile 201.9 – Bar Creek

Large group site with shade

Mile 199.2 – Chinese Miners Massacre Site

Mile 198.4 – Robinson Gulch

Large group site with shadw.

Mile 198.2 – Dug Creek

Small group site with water accessible.

Mile 196.7 – Nez Perce Crossing

In the spring of 1877 The Nez Perce tribe was ordered by the US Government to leave their homelands and go to the reservation in Lapwai, Idaho. It was here that the Nez Perce crossed the river to get there with all of their members, horses, cattle, etc in spring flood water levels.

Mile 196.6 – Dug Bar Landing

Small primitive boat launch road accessible with high clearance 4WD only. Toilets can be found here.

II
Mile 195.1 – Warm Springs Rapid

Read and run. Class III at high flows.

Mile 194 – Zig Zag

Small group sandy beach site.

Mile 192.4 – China Bar

Large group sandy beach site.

III
Mile 191.6 – Imnaha Rapids

Class III read in run in lower levels with some rocky spots. Usually washes out in high flows.

Mile 190.4 – Knight Creek

Large group site with shade and water.

Mile 187.8 – Salmon Bar

Large group with some beach area to camp on.

Mile 185.9 – Cave Cove

Medium group sandy beach site. Overhung rock cliffs provide shade here.

Mile 184.6 – Geneva Bar

Large group sand and rock beach site.

Mile 183.4 – Cook Creek

Medium group sandy beach site with water.

Mile 182 – Lower Jim Creek

Large group sandy beach with shade.

Mile 181.3 – Upper Cottonwood Creek

Large group beach with shade and water.

Mile 180.9 – Lower Cottonwood Creek

Large group sandy beach.

Mile 180.2 – Scenic River Boundary

This is the lower end section of the designated scenic section of the Snake River through Hells Canyon.

Mile 177 – Cache Creek Ranch

River left (Oregon side). Administrative site that is staffed year round. Visitors center and interpretive exhibits are here for observation. Communciations are avaiable here. Large orchard that provides fruit to wildlife and visitors. The ranch is open to day use only with toilets, picnic tables, and shade.

Mile 176.6 – Coon Hollow

Large group site with some shade.

Mile 176 – Washington Oregon State Line

Washington and Oregon state line that borders Idaho river right.

II
Mile 172.8 – Wild Goose Rapids

Read and run. Can be class III at high flows.

Mile 168.7 – Rio Grande River Confluence

The mouth of the Rio Grande River (means big valley) on river left meets the Snake River.

Mile 168.4 – Heller Bar Boat Launch

Public use boat launch owned by the state of Washington. Toilets and parking here.

Mile 166.3 – Salmon River Confluence

The longest undamed free-flowing river in the lower 48 reaches the Snake River on river right. Some geologists believe tha around 2 million years ago the Snake River was just a tributary into the Salmon River.

Mile 166.3 – Salmon Mouth

Large group beach site. No water and little shade.

Mile 22.9 – Hominy Bar

Large group camp at low water levels only.