Destinations along the Snake River are popular during the summer season, yet overcrowding is rarely a problem because the mainstream tourists are usually busy at the nearby National Parks. One of the main attractions along the Snake River is Hells Gate State Park in Idaho. This State Park operates as a full scale recreation area that includes camping and boating. For boaters, this park is the gateway to the majestic Hells Canyon Wilderness, which is one of the most inaccessible places in the west!
The Snake River runs along the border of Idaho and Washington in the Hells Canyon Wilderness region. The landscape in this area is a study in itself and a geologist could spend weeks in this place and never be bored. Hells Gate is famous for towering volcanic basalt columns along the river, which create quite a contrast against the grassy rolling foothills.
Boaters definitely have the advantage as far as touring Hells Canyon is concerned, because the mountains in western Idaho are so steep that there are almost no roads going to the river and few people are willing to do the hike. In fact, Hells Canyon actually is the deepest river gorge in America, so floating on the Snake River through this majestic ultra steep towering canyon is an experience like no other!
Hells Gate State Park definitely caters to Hells Canyon boaters, so this is a good place to set up a basecamp. The marina, boat launch and trailer parking are all located near the entrance of the park, so the access for boaters is easy. Further south along the river are day use picnic and activity areas, along with group areas and a large campground. The campground offers full hookups and modern facilities. Because this campground is a popular basecamp for boaters and river rafters, making reservations ahead of time is highly suggested.
Fly fishing on the Snake River is one of the main activities at Hells Gate and there are several tackle shops nearby in Clarkston or Lewiston. There are plenty of shade trees in this green grassy park that are perfect for goofing off while the lure is in the water. Hells Gate State Park has a trail system, archery range and just south of the campground are remnants of an old Nez Perce village. As can be imagined, there is plenty to see and do in this picturesque riverside recreation area!
When doing trips to town while camping, there are a few old historic sites that are worth checking out. The towns of Clarkston, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho are located at the confluence of the Clearwater River and Snake River, so plenty of old west history was written in this area. One of the most picturesque historic sites is the old 18th Street Bridge in Lewiston, which was the first to span the clearwater River. The 18th Street Bridge is a cable and pulley counterweight center span draw bridge, which is an engineering marvel in its own right.
Hells Gate State Park is a great summertime destination for boaters and rentals are available in the local area, so anybody can join in on the fun! This recreation area is close to town and it is also the gateway to one of the most remote wilderness areas in the west. For those seeking a world of adventure, Hells Gate State Park is the place to go!
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