Hells Canyon is one of the top summertime destinations in the west and this natural wonder offers endless adventures that range from mild to extremely wild. The Snake River runs through this picturesque canyon, which happens to be the deepest river gorge in North America. There are several state, local and national parks that protect the Hells Canyon region and each offers a unique experience. The main attraction involves taking a float trip down the Snake River through the majestic gorge, so this is one aquatic destination that simply must be placed on the lifetime travel destination bucket list!
As mentioned earlier, there are several parks along this section of the Snake River that offer a wide range of outdoor venues that appeal to both land lubbers and water sports enthusiasts. A previously published article describes what to expect in Hells Gate State Park on the Idaho side of the border, which is just a short distance north of the National Recreation Area. Hells Gate compares to a lush green well maintained city park with all camping and boating amenities included, which appeals to those who have relaxing comfort in mind.
The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area offers some comfortable spots too, while more emphasis is placed on good old fashion outdoor adventures, which include lengthy 4x4 trails in the mountains, remote backcountry camping and of course the river rafting trips that will surely be remembered for a lifetime. The National Forest Service manages this vast National Recreation Area on both sides of the river in Oregon and Idaho, so it is easy to find river rafting excursion companies in the small towns near the mouth of the deep canyon. The Nez Perce National Forest features mountain trail adventures and remote camping in the Idaho section of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, while the Wallowa Whitman National Forest Service caters to boaters and anglers on the Oregon side of the line. The environments differ on each side of the river too. The Nez Perce National Forest section of Hells Canyon features deep lush forests and steep mountain peaks, while the Oregon side offers high desert hills that stretch out to the horizon.
The Oregon side of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is where the boat launch ramps are located, so for those who are into extreme aquatic adventures like no other, this is the end of the park to aim for. The Oregon boat launch is a big riverside park with shade trees, picnic tables and walking paths along the banks of the river, which appeals to those who have traveled a long distance to get to this remote wilderness area. This park acts as a river rafting excursion staging area and the parking lot is large enough to handle several large groups at one time. The foot paths offer some great bird watching opportunities, while the shade trees along the banks are perfect for doing some lazy afternoon fishing when the sun is bearing down. For all these reasons, the Oregon Wallowa Whitman National Forest section of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is definitely the place to go if adventures on the Snake River are what you have planned!
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