Idaho Nature March 10, 2017
Idaho Has A Grand Canyon And It’s Too Beautiful For Words
But you already knew that, didn’t you? The stunning, little-known Hells Canyon–the deepest canyon in the country–slices the landscape along the border of Idaho and Oregon, but don’t you dare let Oregon nab our claim to fame! The deepest point of this canyon is in Idaho near He Devil, topping 7,993 feet in depth. At Hells Canyon, you can experience a true slice of Idaho wilderness, mixed in with a whole lot of Idaho history… and beauty so vast it’s hard to capture on camera!
While Hells Canyon is less intimidating from the air, this altitude certainly doesn't do it justice.
From this angle, it's much easier to see!
Look how itty-bitty that boat looks!
Yet, despite being 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon, Hells Canyon is often overlooked because its rugged walls don't have the sheer, fear-inducing charisma of its Arizona counterpart.
But Idaho's rugged landscape was never meant for magazine covers. No, this landscape begs to be explored in person.
While most Idahoans are familiar with this treacherous canyon, the ancient Snake River that carved it thousands of years ago, and even the bounty of recreation offered here, you might not know this:
The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area encompasses over 273,000 acres of wilderness in Idaho, and another 600,000 or so acres in Oregon.
Wilderness rules: camping must be at least 200 feet from the water, pack-in, pack-out, and basically treat the land like the treasure that it is.
The Seven Devils rise up to overlook the canyon on the Idaho side, aptly named for their intimidating crags.
Interestingly, there is no "official" geographic place called Hells Canyon. It's generally accepted that the canyon begins approximately 90 miles south of Lewiston, Idaho and extends 40 miles south to Oxbow, Oregon.
Three dams on the Snake River - Brownless, Oxbow, and Hells Canyon - create multiple reservoirs for boating and fishing.
Of course, if you'd like a little more adventure, rafting on the rapids is always another option!
Hidden within this expansive beauty is also a world of history that few people take the time to explore, however.
You'll find abandoned homesteads, carved names, and even a few artifacts here and there. The best way to see all the history in depth is to take an extended vacation with a guide service.
You might even find evidence of pioneer "phone wires" alongside the cabins. How cool is that?
Telephone wires? From the 1800s? In the middle of nowhere?
Yep! 19 miles of hand-strung phone lines along the Snake River of Hells Canyon enabled frontier women to communicate and form bonds, despite the long distance. Fascinating! But then again, Idaho's history is full of surprises, and Hells Canyon is no exception.
This rugged landscape was created eons ago by underwater volcanoes, back when Hells Canyon's terrain shifted into North America as a result of tectonic plate movement.
Of course, human occupation isn't quite that old. However, a Clovis point found near the south end of the canyon indicates the possibility of human settlement 15,000 years ago. Who knew?!
Ready to explore Hells Canyon with fresh eyes?