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 to access the Snake River Hells Canyon river corridor during the Primary season. In 2023, the Primary season begins May 26th though September 10th.
There are five different permit types available for powerboat access:
One reservation allows for one private powerboat trip. Trip party size cannot exceed 24 passengers.
Camping is limited to one in the Wild river section and two nights in the Scenic.
Please reference "How the Quota Works" for reservation descriptions or call the HCNRA administrative office at 509-758-0616.
For current and projected flow (CFS) information. Call Idaho Power at (800) 422-3143.
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