Hell's Canyon

Hell's Canyon is in northwestern Idaho.  In fact it forms the western border of Idaho.  The canyon is advertised as being deeper than Grand Canyon.  However, They are measuring from the bottom of the canyon to the top of a peak several miles outside the canyon.  All advertising hype aside, the canyon is impressive.





As you can see the Snake River completely fills the canyon floor.  In over a hundred miles of length, there are only two roads that come down to the canyon floor.  Except for those two roads, there is no way into the canyon other than by boat.





Traveling through Hell's Canyon by boat is complicated by the occurrence of class III rapids is several places.  The water depth varies from a few inches to over 100 feet. 



This is the boat we traveled on.  It holds about 30 passengers.  It is a jet boat capable of about 30 knots.  There are a number of places on the river where the water is so shallow that the boat can only cross at high speed.  At speed the boat planes up and draws considerably less than it does at slow speed.






There were other kinds of boats on the river.  These people are part of a commercial float trip.  You can float the river on your own but there are advantages to the commercial tour.





This is one of the perks.  Many of the trips are overnight.  This guy is carrying all the camping gear for the rest of the people on the tour.  When you book your tour, if you are offered a very low price, be suspicious.





Most of the property along the Idaho side of the river is private.  There are a number of houses like this.  Why anyone would want to build a house here is beyond me.  The only access to this house is by boat on a river that has Class III rapids. 




Several times throughout the trip we saw groups of these Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep.  They were becoming very scarce in the area but are now coming back in greater numbers.  Part of the reason is that the surrounding states have banned domestic sheep anywhere near the canyon.  Domestic sheep carry a disease that is deadly to their wild cousins.




At several places in the canyon you can see pictographs.  The experts can't tell us who created these or when.  It seems fairly obvious to me.  It is someone asking "How do I get out of this *%#{{} canyon?".

The river boat tour through Hell's Canyon was interesting.  I am not sure that it was worth the cost or the discomfort of an 11 hour trip in a small boat.  However, it is the only reasonable way to see the canyon.  There are a couple of overlooks but they are at the end of roads recommended for 4-wheel drive vehicles.