Hells Canyon, North America's deepest river gorge, encompasses a vast and remote region with dramatic changes in elevation, terrain, climate and vegetation. Carved by the great Snake River, Hells Canyon plunges more than a mile below Oregon's west rim, and 8,000 feet below the snow-capped He Devil Peak of Idaho's Seven Devils Mountains.
The Snake River is designated a Wild and Scenic River. The 31.5-mile section of the river between Hells Canyon Dam and Upper Pittsburg Landing is designated Wild and the 36-mile section of river downstream from Upper Pittsburg Landing to mile 180.2 is designated Scenic.
Wild River reservations from Hells Canyon Dam to Upper Pittsburg Landing are required for the issuance of a trip permit seven days a week during the primary season, which is the Friday before Memorial Day through September 10. There are three private permit launches each day. These reservations can be obtained through the Four Rivers Lottery or by picking a cancellation once the lottery reservations have been allocated. Click here for a Floater Guide Summary with more information.
The application period for the Four Rivers Lottery is December 1 through January 31. Successful applicants must confirm their reservation no later than March 15. There is no wait list for unconfirmed reservations. Any remaining spots are released at a random time beginning March 16th. Click here for more information on the Four Rivers Lottery.
Self-issue river permits are required for the entire river corridor outside of the primary season, but do not require an advance reservation. They can be self-issued at any river portal.
Rafting and power-boating the rapids of Hells Canyon is not recommended for the inexperienced or poorly equipped. For floaters, portaging or lining through or around many of the rapids is difficult, if not impossible. For more information about the most challenging areas in Hells Canyon, as well as trip lengths, consult the National Wild & Scenic Rivers website.