The Snake RiverThe Snake River is Idaho's largest river, and two runs Hells Canyon and Milner offer whitewater boaters the biggest water in Idaho.
Hells Canyon is one of the deepest river gorges in the world. While not as dramatic as the Grand Canyon, Hells Canyon is actually deeper, with an average depth of 5,500 feet.
In the 1950's, more than 100 miles of the Canyon was buried beneath the slack waters of Brownlee, Oxbow, and Hells Canyon reservoirs. Today, two of the six major rapids that once graced the river remain, Wild Sheep and Granite Creek, both Class IV rapids.
At the put-in, the Snake River contains more water than the Colorado in Grand Canyon. Releases from Hells Canyon Dam fluctuate from 5,000 cfs to over 50,000 cfs. At the higher flows, Wild Sheep and Granite Creek rapids can flip even the largest rafts.
The Snake River in Hells Canyon is a National Wild and Scenic River, and like so many of Idaho's famous whitewater rivers, there is more than thrilling rapids here. Observant floaters can hope to see Indian petroglyphs, historic homesteads, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions and bears.
Permits are required from Hells Canyon Dam to Rush Creek, 16 miles downstream, for the summer months.