Facts About Hells Canyon

Facts About Hells CanyonHells Canyon spans 10 miles and is the deepest river gorge in North America. It is one of the Northwest's greatest attractions. This geologic feature was created over many thousands of years by the carving action of the Snake River, which runs through western Idaho and northeast Oregon just below the southeast corner of Washington. Today many fishing tours as well as whitewater river tours are given by jet boat or raft by companies like Killgore Adventures, based in White Bird, Idaho.

Granite Creek Rapids is the deepest part of Hells Canyon, reaching 8,000 feet below Idaho's He Devil Peak. That is more than three times the height of the Empire State Building.


Hells Canyon National Recreation Area covers more than 650,000 acres, where nearly 900 miles of trails are available for people to hike, mountain bike or go horseback riding.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is part of three National Forests including the Payette, Wallowa-Whitman and the Nez Perce.

The Hells Canyon All-American Road is a 225-mile road that was made a National Forest Service Scenic Byway in 1992 and has since been named a State Scenic Byway. The most scenic part is said to be between the towns of Joseph and Halfway.

The Snake River and nearby Salmon River are home to trout, bass, steelhead, sturgeon and salmon. During the summer, river levels are more manageable and many fishing tours are offered through local outfitters.

The area is also home to dozens of bird species, deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, mountain goats, black bears and various reptiles and amphibians. The 10-mile span of the canyon includes an extremely diverse range of habitat and wildlife due to the enormous variety in elevation change within the area.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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