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Hells Canyon

Heavenly vacation memories await visitors in an unforgettable gorge

The expansive Hells Canyon and its creator, the Snake River, are the highlights of southeastern Washington state and the adjacent corners of Oregon and Idaho. Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America, plunging more than a mile below its west rim in Oregon and 8,000 feet below He Devil Peak in Idaho’s Seven Devils Mountains.

Fishing the River, Hiking the Canyon

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Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Snake River in Washington acts as a major tributary to the Columbia River, and it’s also where Chinook salmon return to spawn, drawing anglers to catch-and-keep in the spring. In the fall, steelhead trout congregate in the river. The Clearwater-Snake Steelhead Derby held every November is the region’s largest fishing tournament. Local guides can take you to the best spots for catching bass, rainbow trout, sturgeon and, of course, salmon and steelhead.

Get the best views of the canyon along McGraw Rim. This cross-country trail runs 3.6 miles one way through semi-forested game trails. Hiking the rim trail provides views of the historic route of the Bonneville Party, a group of men whose travels would be chronicled in the writings of Washington Irving.

More moderate treks can be had along the Eureka Wagon Trail, Summit Ridge Trail and Temperance Trail. These routes drop in elevation between 1,100 and 1,700 feet over a 2-mile stretch, butting up against stunning views below the canyon rim.

Wildlife such as mule deer and elk make their home near these trails, and lucky hikers may spot one or a few of the normally shy creatures. Spring wildflowers including lupine, penstemon, gilia and wild roses blanket much of the surrounding terrain in the spring and summer.

Seeing Southeast Washington

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Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

The Washington towns that grew up around the Snake River and Hells Canyon are now thriving communities with distinct personalities. Clarkston serves as the gateway to Hells Canyon and is the namesake of famed explorer William Clark as well as the home of Lewis and Clark Days. Springtime brings the rodeo to town at the Asotin County Fair, and the Asotin Museum features exhibits and artifacts from the region’s history.

Lewis Clark Valley beckons adventurers to take thrilling jet boat rides through the canyon or helicopter rides high above the gorge. If whitewater rafting on the Snake River is too much of a good thing, try floating on the calmer waters of the Clearwater River.

Pullman is home to Washington State University and the Palouse Ridge Golf Course. Take your clubs out on this 7,308-yard public green, carved out of dunes that were sculpted during the last Ice Age. Pullman’s agricultural heritage has paved the way for great wines; a tasting room welcomes oenophiles at Merry Cellars.

Southeast Washington’s breathtaking scenery is highlighted along the Palouse Scenic Byway, speckled with small towns that tell the history of the region’s early settlers.

For More Information

Hells Canyon Visitor Bureau

877-774-7248

www.visitlcvalley.com

 

Washington State Tourism

800-544-1800

www.experiencewa.com