Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest river gorge, encompasses a vast and remote region with dramatic changes in elevation, terrain, climate and vegetation. 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. At the mouth of Granite Creek, approximately seven miles downstream from Hells Canyon Dam, the river elevation is 1,480 feet. The canyon depth here is 7,913 feet when measured from He Devil Mountain, towering over Idaho's Seven Devils range at 9,393 feet. Above Rush Creek Rapids, Hat Point Lookout offers a spectacular view of the canyon from 6,982 feet, the highest point on the Oregon rim.
There are four permit locations to launch a powerboat from in Hells Canyon:
Cache Creek portal can only be accessed by boat. It is the northern entry to the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA), located nine miles south of Heller Bar public boat launch, located at the mouth of the Grand Ronde, 23 miles south of Asotin, Washington on the Snake River. This portal experiences the highest amount of powerboat traffic.
Pittsburg launch on the Snake River can be accessed by road -- Deer Creek Road or Forest Service Road #493 off of US Hwy. 95 near White bird, Idaho. This 17 miles of gravel road is not maintained year round and may be require chains during the winter months.
Hells Canyon Creek Launch site and visitor center is located a half mile downstream from Hells Canyon dam and is 23 miles north of Oxbow, OR. The road is paved and accessible year round.
Dug Bar is approximately 30 miles to Imnaha, Oregon. At the town of Imnaha, turn left onto paved County Road #735, which turns into a steep, narrow dirt road, Forest Road #4260. This road is slippery when wet. High clearance vehicles are recommended. This site is rarely used as a portal to launch powerboats.
Permit reservations are required for the primary season from the Friday before Memorial Day through September 10th. The reservation allows one of the following permits:
Scenic: Scenic river access from Cache Creek through Pittsburg Landing portals.
Wild: Access entire river corridor and Wild river section, from Pittsburg Launch to Hells Canyon Dam.
Salmon Access-Day Use Only: Day use access to the Salmon river by way of Cache Creek portal. Boaters use the permit to pass to the Salmon River; no overnight use on the Snake River.
Limited Wild River North: Limited Wild river access during non-motorized period from the northern end of the river. Motorized craft not permitted in wild river segment between Kirkwood Historic Ranch and Wild Sheep rapids.
Limited Wild River South: Limited Wild river access during non-motorized period from the southern end of the river. Motorized craft not permitted in wild river segment between the top of Wild Sheep rapids to Kirkwood Historic Ranch.
You must not be currently being penalized for a no-show or late cancellation on this river;
This reservation is for a private jetboat permit;
Valid motorized craft is defined as rigid hull craft with water-cooled exhaust (inboard shall have through-the hull exhaust) that are driven by propellers or jet pump(s), that are equipped with mufflers and/or other noise reduction devices. Motorized river craft must be at least 12 feet in length, but no longer than 39.6 feet in length;
Permit holder must be 18 years old by the launch date;
Permit holder will sign a permit affirming that they have read and understand the definition of a private jetboat trip;
Party size cannot exceed 24 people;
A human waste carry out system is required;
All boats will carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device for every person on board.
Call Idaho Power Company's Snake River information line at (800) 422-3143 for current and projected flow information.
The reservation fee of $6.00 is non-refundable. Fees must be paid on Recreation.gov using a credit card.
The permit is non-transferable. Call the Snake River office at (509) 758-0616 if you have questions about your situation.
If you cannot make a trip, you must always provide a cancellation to the reservation system. To submit your cancellation, please go to your existing reservation with Recreation.gov and follow the instructions.
You should send the cancellation no later than seven days prior to your launch date to avoid any issues or being flagged as a “no show.”
The seven-day advance notice requirement may be waived in cases due to extreme water conditions. Regardless, a cancellation must be submitted. Failure to provide timely cancellation will trigger a no-show penalty. These statuses can impact your ability to get a permit through the following year.
The $6.00 reservation fee is non-refundable.
2535 Riverside Dr. PO Box 699 Clarkston WA 99403