Hells Canyon Rafting - Snake River Whitewater Trip, United States
Hells Canyon Rafting - Snake River Whitewater Trip:
For over 25 years ROW Adventures has been running the best Snake River in Hells Canyon rafting trips available. We know you have a lot of options when choosing a Snake River outfitter and we are happy you are considering us. Our service, guides, equipment and meals are unparalleled. We share our knowledge of the canyon’s natural and cultural history to create a more meaningful and memorable trip. Our amazing guides are friendly, fun to be with and provide you with unparalleled service and a “can do” attitude. We lead you to many sights in Hells Canyon, taking you to see Indian rock art, pioneer homesteads and on amazing hikes.
When you go rafting with ROW Adventures, we send a cargo boat ahead to set up a luxury wilderness camp. Instead of spending time setting up your own tent, you can be hiking, fishing or otherwise relaxing. Our meals are superlative, made with the finest fresh ingredients and prepared by our talented staff. Quite simply we offer the best in service, learning, equipment and food. The Snake River in Hells Canyon is one of the world’s best whitewater rafting trips and we hope you experience it with ROW Adventures!
Big volume, Grand Canyon-style rapids, 70-degree water temperature, Native American pictograph sites, pioneer homesteads, incredible scenery,wildlife viewing, extensive trail system & world famous trout, bass and sturgeon fishing.
Hells Canyon Rafting, Snake River Idaho
Hells Canyon Rafting on the Snake River in Idaho straddles the borders of Idaho and Oregon and is the deepest river gorge in North America. According to Nez Perce tribal legend, the mythical figure "coyote" dug Hells Canyon with a big stick to protect the tribe's ancestors in the Blue Mountains of Oregon from the "Seven Devils" across the gorge in Idaho.
Below you will find all available instances of this trip. Roll over departure dates to see a complete list of departures. Roll over the demographic icons to get a brief overview of the demographic group.
Hells Canyon Rafting, Snake River - ROW Difference
Not every rafting trip is created the same and ROW Adventures has many differentiating factors you should consider when choosing a Snake River guide service. With over 25 years of operating Snake River rafting adventures, you won't find a better value or richer experience elsewhere. Here are a few of our differences:
• Experience & Awards - ROW Adventures is a seven-time National Geographic award-winning company. We haven't only been "operating" since 1979, we've never changed ownership! And since 1986, we've been providing amazing adventures on the Snake River.
• Responsible Travel Ethics - We operate following the best in "responsible" or "eco" travel ethics including Leave No Trace camping and many other best practices that are sometimes forgotten about in the world of travel.
• Rich Itinerary - Our itinerary is designed to visit many different points of interest, taking advantage of rock art sites, pioneer homesteads, and natural wonders in the river canyon. You may only float through Hells Canyon once in your life and we want to make sure you see the best that it has to offer.
• Full-Service Camping - We are one of very few outfitters who have a cargo boat travels ahead to set up camp, including your tent and a complete kitchen with tables and chairs. This means when you get to camp you're free to explore – hike, fish, relax under a tree, rather than worry about the cumbersome unloading of cargo each day and setting up tents each night.
• Luxury Camping – Our luxury-style camping includes all camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags and thick, self-inflating mattresses. All rafting gear is also included to make things easy for you.
• Guides Like No Others - Your trip is enriched by knowledgeable guides who share the canyon's cultural and natural history. No other company on the Snake River trains guides like we do, and most of our guides are also Certified Interpretive Guides through the National Association for Interpretation.
• Highly Personal Service - We staff our trips with one guide for every 3-4 guests providing you the ultimate in personal attention.
• Carefully Orchestrated - Our guides are divided into a "guest crew" and a "kitchen crew." While the kitchen crew prepares dinner, our guest crew is available to spend time with you, lead a hike, show you how to cast a fishing line or simply sit in the shade and visit. This is a fundamental distinction between us and others.
• Sharing Our Passion - Guides join you at all meals, sharing conversation and laughter at meal times and around the campfire.
• All-inclusive - Complimentary beer, wine, juice and soda, all in moderate quantities, is provided. We are proud to serve fine local Northwest wines. We always have plenty of ice!
• Choice of Craft - We offer you a choice of river craft including oar rafts, paddle rafts, and inflatable kayaks (affectionately called 'Daring Duckies').
• Your Security First - We carry satellite telephones on all trips - for emergency use only.
• Ideal Logistics - Trip logistics are designed to maximize time on the river - floating from Hells Canyon Dam to either Pittsburg Landing or Heller Bar depending on the length of trip.
• No nickel and diming - We provide complimentary wetsuits & wetsuit booties early and late season to make sure you stay warm and comfortable on the river.
• Touch of Class - At the end of the trip we close the circle of friendship and celebration with a festive, hosted farewell dinner.
• Easy Transportation - Shuttle from the Boise, Idaho Airport to the meeting point of the trip is included.
• Easy for You - Pre- and Post-trip hotel reservations are handled by our competent office staff (hotel costs are not included in your basic trip cost).
• Custom Trips - Trips can be chartered for special occasions - bachelor / bachelorette parties, family reunions, all women/men groups, etc.
• Unique and Exclusive Combination Ideas - You can combine your Snake River trip with a 2- or 3-day Lochsa River trip - creating an adrenaline filled adventure! Or stay at our River Dance Lodge before or after your Snake River rafting trips. These are both ROW exclusives.
• Specialty Trips - include: Fishing Expeditions, River Soul Journeys, History & Geology Tours, Raft-Supported Hiking and Snake/Lochsa Combinations.
• Permits and Licenses - ROW Adventures is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider under permit from the U.S. Forest Service, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and licensed by the States of Idaho and Oregon. All our operations and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis. We also operate under licenses from the states of Idaho and Oregon.
• More on Responsible Travel - ROW Adventures is a strong advocate for wild rivers. We support many river conservation groups with both time and money. We also encourage our guests to help. When you receive your invoice from us, you will find a $1 per person per day voluntary donation included. For our Snake River trips this money goes to both Idaho Rivers United and the Hells Canyon Preservation Council. Both are superb non-profit conservation groups working to protect wild rivers, fish and clean water for the communities that depend on them. If you choose not to donate simply delete this item from your invoice when you remit payment.
• Local Support - Our trips support local hotels, on our farewell dinner we eat in a local restaurant, we hire local guides and buy all our trip provisions and food in local communities. This means our trips and the money you pay for them has a significant impact to our local area. Our trips offer an excellent opportunity for our guests to interact with locals, providing a cultural element that allows you to learn more about the American West.
What are typical meals on the river? The quality of our food reflects the quality of the wilderness environment in Hells Canyon. We hand select the freshest fruits and vegetables and pack them carefully in huge ice-coolers. Likewise, these coolers carry fresh dairy products and meats. With these ingredients we prepare bountiful, healthy meals.
Cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice and served with broccoli and Béarnaise sauce. Baked Idaho trout, served with green beans and Idaho mashed potatoes. Juicy ribeye steak, fajitas, or made-on-the-river lasagna are a few other possible entrees. Big salads of vegetables and fruit add color and variety to every meal. Desserts are made fresh each evening in our Dutch ovens and range from double fudge brownies to pineapple upside-down cake. We serve juice every morning and moderate amounts of bottled wine with dinner. We also provide two beers and two sodas or juices per person, per day. There's always plenty of cold water, lemonade mix, tea, coffee and cocoa. And you're welcome to bring your own beverages or alcohol as well. We have plenty of ice to keep your drinks cold.
What is riverside camping like? We call it luxury camping. In order to make your trip run as smoothly and comfortably as possible, we use a large cargo raft to carry camping gear, food and supplies ahead of the main group. This allows our smaller rafts to be lighter and more maneuverable, which makes for a safer ride with more bounce and splash. And the cargo raft arrives at camp early to setup the kitchen and spacious 2-person tents we supply for you.
All you have to do is carry your personal gear to the tent of your choice and roll out your sleeping bag, flannel liner and thick, self-inflating foam sleeping pad (all of which is provided by ROW and stored in a ROW-provided waterproof bag). There are no mosquitoes on this stretch of the river and our camps are on flat benches beneath pine trees or on sandy beaches.
To give you the opportunity to go hiking, fishing, read a book, etc., we generally arrive in camp no later than 4:00pm. Around 5:30, we serve hors d'oeuvres with dinner following around 7:00pm.
(Note: In rare circumstances we may have a trip on the Snake River with less than 13 guests. In this case, we may not run our cargo raft. Our guides are still happy to set up your tent.)
When is the best time to go? The elevation on the Snake River in Hells Canyon is only 1,500’ at the put-in and around 800’ at the take-out. This means the weather is typically much warmer than other parts of Idaho. This trip is excellent throughout the season, but the Snake River in Hells Canyon is an ideal choice for spring or fall vacations because of the mild climate and few other people.
What are typical weather and water conditions? Hells Canyon Dam controls water flow so there are excellent levels year round, but the highest water is typically in June and September. Air temperatures in the spring and fall range from 65-85 degrees and most nights cool to around 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. It's warmer in late June through late August with daytime temperatures between 85-95 degrees, dropping to 65-70 degrees at night.
It rarely rains in Hells Canyon, but sometimes we'll witness a dramatic thundershower which instantly freshens the air. Water temperatures are usually around 60 degrees in June and September, and 70 degrees in July and August.
What type of watercraft do you use? In addition to the cargo raft that carries all the camping gear, we use three other kinds of river craft. The traditional raft is a 17-foot self-bailing, oar-powered raft which a guide controls with two large oars. We also offer smaller 14-foot self-bailing paddle rafts. Four to six people paddle while a guide steers. On some stretches of river, we can add inflatable kayaks, or Daring Duckies, to the mix.
You have the choice to ride in any of these boats, and many people enjoy trying all three during a trip. On the few trips we operate with less than 13 guests, we may not have enough people to support a paddle raft. (We will still have duckies on smaller trips, if requested.)
Who guides your trips? On any river trip, the guides are the most important factor for your safety, enjoyment, and the success of the trip. ROW guides are exceptional people with years of river experience. We maintain a tobacco-free policy and most of our guides have taken interpretation courses from certified instructors. We look for guides who are willing and eager to share, teach, listen, learn, laugh, play, discuss, and, above all, work hard to provide a safe, relaxed and spontaneous adventure.
While in camp, two or three guides are preparing dinner while the others are free to spend time with you. They might show you the way to a nearby hot spring, give a fly-fishing lesson, or just to sit and visit with the group. Our guides are the main reason many of our guests return to ROW time and time again. (References gladly provided.)
What are the differences between various trip lengths? We believe the Snake River offers one of the world's premier rafting experiences and deserves a minimum of five days to appreciate its many wonders. Our Forest Service permit is very restrictive, allowing just one trip every eight days, so we like to maximize our guests' time on the river. And from late June to late August we offer primarily five- or six-day trips. Both five- and six-day trips float 82-miles through Hells Canyon, but a six-day trip affords more time for hiking, fishing and lounging.
In June we only offer four-day trips. The water on the Snake River is usually high and moving quickly which allows us to float the entire 82-mile stretch of Hells Canyon in just four days. But water flow is controlled by Hells Canyon Dam so we cannot guarantee the full 82-mile trip. In the event of lower flows in June, the 4-day trip floats 34-miles to Pittsburg Landing. We spend less time on the water but more time exploring the remote canyon, hiking, fishing, etc. (May and June are great times for our Snake/Lochsa combination trips, for those seeking Idaho’s ultimate whitewater trip.)
What do we do other than float on the river? One of the reasons that Hells Canyon is such a fabulous trip is the incredible variety of things to do and see along the way. ROW takes pride in historical interpretation and takes advantage of as many side excursions as possible. We share stories of the early pioneers and hike to at least one old homestead cabin. We explore at least two different Native American rock art sites. If the group wants more, we know a couple dozen other points of interest along the way.
Not only do we show you these places, we help you understand them. If you're interested, we'll talk about the geology, plants and animals that inhabit Hells Canyon. We strongly believe that deepening understanding builds greater appreciation. And we hope our love of this canyon is contagious.
This is a sample six-day itinerary. Five-day trips cover the same mileage but have less time in camp and for exploring during the day. Three-day trips take-out at Pittsburg Landing at mile 34. Four-day trips in June, when the water is high, cover the same mileage as the five- and six-day trips and are great to combine with our Lochsa River whitewater rafting adventures. While this is a typical itinerary, every trip is unique. This is meant to give you a snapshot of the trip and examples of the things you’ll see and do, but should not be considered an exact itinerary.
Hells Canyon was carved by the powerful Snake River and is North America's deepest gorge at nearly 8,000 feet. The area is inaccessible by road and offers stunning mountain vistas and scenic glimpses into remote regions of Idaho and Oregon wilderness. Abundant wildlife, fish and Class III-IV white water rapids make the Snake River in Hells Canyon a classic river rafting adventure.
Our Snake River rafting adventures through Hells Canyon are journeys through a land rich in myth and geologic wonder. Running south to north, the Snake River in Hells Canyon cuts through some of the most rugged, spectacular landscape on earth. Boulders and rock slides have rolled into the river to create the biggest white water rafting rapids in the Pacific Northwest. High-crested waves and paddle-swallowing holes drench us in white water excitement.
Between the Snake River rapids, there's plenty of time to kick back and marvel at the snow-capped peaks that tower more than a mile above. Mountainsides are covered in golden grass and pine forest and we commonly see soaring eagles, ambling bears or wild mountain goats.
Many people come to raft the Snake River because of the bountiful fishing. Common species include trout, small mouth bass and North America's largest freshwater fish, the white sturgeon. Other people come to learn more about the history of the Native American tribes and early pioneers who homestead here. Everyone enjoys seeing the well-preserved Native American pictographs and swimming in the near-70-degree water.
DAY 0 – Travel from your home to Cambridge, Idaho and meet ROW’s Team Leader at the Frontier Motel at 7:00 PM Mountain Standard Time (MST) for a one-hour orientation meeting to answer last-minute questions. You'll also receive your waterproof gear bags. Dinner on your own.
DAY 1 – Meet your team leader at 7:30am for the two-hour bus ride to Hells Canyon rafting trip on the Snake River. We'll stop along the way for a ROW-hosted breakfast. Our launch point is at the base of Hells Canyon Dam, approximately 1,500 feet above sea level. Before launching rafts, ROW staff prepares you with a thorough safety briefing while personal gear is loaded. The briefing covers how to ride in a raft, how to paddle, how to swim through rapids, and other tips for the days ahead. Once this is complete everyone chooses a raft - paddle, oar-powered or inflatable kayak - and climbs aboard.
The Snake River has “pool and drop” characteristics. This means there's a long pool of calm water followed by a rapid. Not long after launching we run several splashy Hells Canyon rapids that give a fun, roller coaster ride a taste of what's to come.
When we stop for lunch, some guides prepare the meal while others give a “camp orientation” to explain how we minimize our impact on the river. ROW adheres to "Leave No Trace" camping ethics, so you'll learn where to wash up, how the toilet system works, where to brush your teeth, place trash, etc. Then it’s time to make a sandwich and enjoy the open-air dining experience.
We usually run two big class IV rapids the first day – Wild Sheep and Granite. These impressive rapids never fail to get a guide’s heart pumping. This is also a great day for fishing. The water is a bit cooler at this elevation and fishing for trout in the tail waters of the rapids is almost always successful.
Around 4:00pm we arrive at camp with plenty of free time for hiking, fishing, reading or just relaxing. Hors d’oeuvres are served around 6:00 and dinner around 7:30. The evening sky darkens and the first shimmering stars appear, inviting contemplation on the day and conversation with friends, new and old.
DAY 2 – You'll wake around 7:00am to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee and tea. Breakfast is served around 7:30, and while we clean up the kitchen, you pack up your personal gear. We depart camp about 9:30 for today's Hells Canyon rafting adventure. Plenty of rapids, sun and dramatic scenery treat you and we'll explore a homesteader's cabin, root cellar and farm implements. You'll get a good sense of what pioneer life would have been like 100 years ago.
After more Snake River whitewater rafting, the river mellows and we have time to jump in and float along with our rafts. The mountains tower above and you relax in the warm sun. There are over 100 Native American rock art sites along the Snake River in Hells Canyon and during the trip we'll stop to investigate a few. Hells Canyon is unique because we find both pictographs (rock paintings) and petroglyphs (rock carvings) left by the different tribes that traveled the canyon.
Camp tonight is somewhere in the Salt Creek area. After dinner, another peaceful evening awaits. The campfire and night sky combine to create a perfect time for connecting with family and friends. Bonds grow stronger and memories build.
DAY 3 – Today we'll hike along the trail at “Suicide Point.” This incredible view offers sweeping panoramas some 300’ above your Snake River rafting trip. And, back on the rafts, the Snake slowly carries us to our next stop at Kirkwood Historic Ranch, an historic sheep ranch. We visit the sheering shed, blacksmith shop and homesteader cabins. Before the creation of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, thousands of sheep grazed in the surrounding mountains.
Soon the canyon opens up and we crash through some big wave rapids. When we arrive at Pittsburg Landing, where our 3-day trips end, we take a short hike to see one of the richest collections of Indian petroglyphs on the Snake. After Pittsburg Landing the river narrows and the area's beauty intensifies.
At camp this evening our guides may set up horseshoes or guide a hike. We'll refuel with a nutritious meal and the night sky and fresh mountain air will help you sleep like a baby.
DAY 4 - Today’s spectacular scenery and Hells Canyon whitewater is complemented by short history lessons. We'll see the ford used by Chief Joseph and the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce Indians during the famous 1877 exodus from their homeland. At China Creek we learn about the massacre of Chinese miners who were thought to have had a large cache of gold.
The human drama in Hells Canyon rafting trips is as intriguing as the many natural wonders we discover, like the fascinating wildlife, plant life and geology. It’s been another full day of river rafting fun and discovery.
DAY 5 – We continue to float and marvel at the dramatic scenery. Between the white water rapids, look for golden eagles soaring overhead. Learn about the copper mines at Eureka Bar and the era of steamboats that traveled along the Snake. In the afternoon we'll pass the river's confluence with the legendary Salmon “River of No Return.” The Salmon, where we run our Salmon River rafting trips, ends its journey and mingles with the waters of the mighty Snake in a powerful joining of forces. We now float on double the volume of water as compared to just the Snake River alone. Tonight we camp on a large, white sand beach.
We'll have time for playing on the beach, sunbathing and another evening of laughter and camaraderie under Idaho's star-studded sky.
DAY 6 – By now you’ll be completely adjusted to “river time” as you welcome a new day of adventure. There are some big waves and big rides on this section of the Snake River, and also some long stretches of flat water. Depending on the river flow, we may join the rafts together and use a small, quiet outboard motor to cover some of today’s river miles. As we travel downstream, we'll see the original Nez Perce trail descending down the canyon to a ford used for centuries by the Nez Perce as they traveled east from the Wallowa Mountains (in today’s northeast corner of Oregon).
We stop for another fine lunch on a sandy beach then dawn big smiles for a group photo. After a few more miles of magnificent scenery we reach our take-out spot below the Snake River's confluence with the Grande Ronde River. Gear is untied and everyone carries their personal gear to the waiting bus. It’s a quick 45-minute ride back to the town of Lewiston, Idaho. Enjoy a hot shower, change clothes and then meet your guides around 7:00pm for a ROW-hosted dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 7 – If you drove to Cambridge and had your car shuttled north, it's waiting for you at the hotel. If you're flying, there’s a free shuttle from the hotel to the Lewiston airport. Or you can take a taxi two hours north to the Spokane airport.
Permits & Licenses:
ROW Inc., doing business as ROW Adventures, is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider under permit from the U.S. Forest Service in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. We operate under a special use permit from the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. All our operation and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis. ROW Inc. is bonded and licensed by the State of Idaho Outfitters & Guides Licensing Board.
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