Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Punctuated by ancient rock formations, roaming wildlife, and reminders of days gone by, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, located near the Washington–Idaho border and stretching along 75 miles of the Snake River to the Oregon border, is deeper than the Grand Canyon—and nearly as remote.

Geologists believe the picturesque canyon was carved by the Snake River during the last ice age, and it is stippled with evidence of the Nez Perce people who populated the area for thousands of years.

Today the canyon is largely accessible only by boat, and much of the craggy terrain is designated as “wild” or “scenic” land. Those wishing to experience the pristine beauty need not despair. The Lewis-Clark Valley is the gateway to Hells Canyon and offers visitors accessible adventure.

The best way to explore Hells Canyon is to get your feet wet—literally. Visitors can lounge on a sandy beach, hop aboard one of the many tour boats that frequent riverways, go water rafting, fish, or take a jet boat tour of the canyon. The town of Clarkston offers marinas and parks.

Adventurers who prefer dry land can walk, jog, or bike the more than 25 miles of paved Lewiston-Clarkston Levee Pathway, near Hells Canyon Resort, lining the Clearwater and Snake rivers. Historians may enjoy a visit to Buffalo Eddy, 18 miles south of Asotin, which features more than 240 ancient petroglyphs and pictographs.

Find other places to explore Washington's scenic beauty >>

—Heather Caro

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