Snake River

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The Snake River, designated in 1975 as a National Wild and Scenic River, provides an unforgettable outdoor experience. It is managed to preserve its freeflowing character and unique environment while providing for continued public use. Hells Canyon is the deepest gorge in North America. The canyon is bordered on the east by the rugged Seven Devils range, capped by 9,393-foot He Devil Mountain in Idaho. At the mouth of Granite Creek, approximately 7 miles below Hells Canyon Dam, the river elevation is 1,480 feet and the canyon depth is 7,913 feet. On the west, the gorge is edged by Oregon's rim country, which rises to an elevation of 6,982 feet at Hat Point Lookout.

The river flows through the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA), and forms the boundary between Idaho and Oregon. Although the NRA includes portions of the Nez Perce, Payette and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, it is managed by the Wallowa-Whitman. It includes the Hells Canyon Wilderness and the Snake River segment of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

The 31.5-mile section of river between Hells Canyon Dam and Pittsburg Landing is designated"Wild" under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The 36-mile section of river downstream from Pittsburg Landing to mile 180.2 is designated "Scenic." An additional 4.2 miles of the river from mile 180.2 north to the NRA boundary at the Oregon-Washington line is recommended for "Scenic" designation.

The Wild and Scenic Snake River Corridor extends approximately one-quarter mile back from the high water mark on each shore. The river corridor itself is not wilderness, and wilderness regulations do not apply; developed campsites and manmade structures exist, and some motorized equipment is allowed. Some areas on either side of the corridor, however, are designated wilderness and closed to mechanized travel. If you want to visit the wilderness, it must be by foot or horseback. Uncommon on most Wild and Scenic Rivers, powerboats have been used on the river for many years and their continued use is still allowed.

Visitor Facilities

Hells Canyon Creek
This site serves as the primary launch point for float trips on the Snake River and is the only location in Hells Canyon where the Snake River is accessible by a two-lane paved road. A staffed visitor center with a small theater provides boaters and visitors with information about the river and Hells Canyon. The theater presents programs several times daily during the summer months and less frequently during the remainder of the year.

Pittsburg Landing
The only public roaded year round access to the Snake River on the Idaho side of Hells Canyon NRA, Pittsburg Landing has accessible recreational opportunities for visitors traveling by either river or road. A concrete boat ramp and float apron are provided for launching or takeout of river trips. Restrooms, screened changing areas, and drinking water are available nearby. Two accessibly designed campgrounds, one with full service facilities, are located in the immediate area for overnight use. Kirkwood Historic Ranch
The historic ranch on Kirkwood Bar offers a taste of canyon life from the 1 930's. This was Grace Jordan's"Home Below Hells Canyon." Displays in the old bunkhouse contain historic and prehistoric artifacts and interpret their significance to early canyon inhabitants. Visitors are welcome to stop at this museum and learn about life in the canyon by experiencing some living history.

Cache Creek Ranch
This ranch is the northernmost river portal on the Snake River within Hells Canyon NRA and is staffed year round. Historically part of the Dobbins and Huffman Sheep Ranch that flourished in the 1930's, it now serves as a shaded oasis for river travelers in the Scenic portion of the Snake River. The expansive lawns, fruit orchard, and drinking water attract both wildlife and visitors during the summer months. A small visitor center provides information about the river and displays interpret unique aspects of the canyon's history and environment.

River Log

This float information starts at Hells Canyon Dam and ends at the Washington state border.
* Identifies major rapids of Class III and above.

247.0 - Hells Canyon Creek Recreation
Visitor center and small theater staffed daily from May through SiteSeptember. Toilets, boat ramp, dock, interpretive trail, no water or camping. Limited parking available; day use only.
246.7 - Cliff Mountain Rapids
Class 11; current flows against rock wall on Idaho side.
245.8 - Lamont Springs
Old mining claim; beach, water; capacity large group.
245.2 - Square Beach
Sandy beach, old mining claim; capacity small group.
244.7 - Brush Creek Rapids
Class 11; roller-coaster waves down center.
244.7 - Brush Creek
Water in creek, sandy beach below creek; capacity medium group.
243.8 - Rocky Point
Shade, no water, good landing; capacity medium group.
243.7 - Rocky Point Rapids
Class 11; roller-coaster waves, rock right of center.
243.4 - Chimney Bar
Shade, no water; capacity large group.
243.2 - Warm Springs
Shade, rocky beach; capacity large group.
242.3 - Barton Cabin
Historic site. Upriver from Battle Creek, approximately 200 yards from river.
242.1 - Battle Creek
Good landing. Tie up 100 yards down-river from creek. Shade; capacity large group. Another campsite located above creek on bench between river and cabin, has tie up at creek; capacity large group.
241.8 - Sand Dunes
Good landing, sandy beach, no water; capacity small group.
241.6 - Birch Springs
Rocky beach, water supply scant; capacity medium group.
241.4 - Wild Sheep
Water, campsite 75 yards from river below Wild Sheep Creek. Stopping point to view rapids; capacity large group.
241.2 - *Wild Sheep Rapids
Class IV; located below Bull Creek; turbulent at all flows and the longest rapids on the river. Just above rapids on Oregon side is a small campsite and river trail. Always scout.
240.8 - Rocky Bar
Rocky beach, shade, no water; capacity large group.
239.7 - Upper Granite Creek
Tie up in rocky cove; 75 yards up trail to grassy bench above creek Shade, water; capacity large group.
239.7 - Hibbs Ranch
Historic site; up Granite Creek 1 mile. Site of an ambush and murder.
239.6 - Lower Granite Creek
Tie up 200 yards below creek; up trail to bench. Water, shade; capacity large group.
239.2 - Cache Creek Bar
Difficult boat landing. High grassy bar below Cache Creek, water offsite; capacity large group.
239.2 - *Granite Creek Rapids
Class IV at all levels up to 50,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), Class V above 50,000 cfs. Located just downstream from Lower Granite Creek campsite. Trail access on both sides of the river. Always scout. These rapids change as flows fluctuate. Beware of large drop with holes and big waves. A large rock submerged in the center of the river creates a hole with much turbulence at all flows.
238.2 - *Three Creeks Rapids
Class 11 or Class 111 with roller-coaster waves.
238.0 - Three Creeks
Good water, shade, steep climb to bench. Difficult access below creek; capacity large group.
237.7 - Oregon Hole
Shade, no water; capacity large group.
237.2 - Upper Dry Gulch
Good landing; no water, shade; capacity large group.
237.0 - Lower Dry Gulch
Good landing, shade. Spring just below rim of river bank; capacity large group.
236.6 - Hastings
Old placer mine, gravel beach in low water. Water; capacity medium group.
236.2 - Saddle Creek
Difficult landing at flows over 30,000 cfs; tie up downstream side ofcreek. Water, shade on upper bench to the north; capacity large group.
235.2 - *Upper Bernard Creek
Class 11 to 111 at all flows. Depending on skill level, you may want to Rapids scout. Located below Bernard Creek.
235.1 - Bernard Creek
Good Landing for rafts downstream from creek on gravel beach; not a good powerboat site. Old cabin on north side of creek. Shade, water, hike up trail 100 yards; capacity large group.
235.0 - *Lower Bernard Creek
Class III to IV depending on flow. Approximately 300 yards below Rapids Upper Bernard site. About an 8 foot drop, steep but not vertical; big standing wave about 6 feet high in low flows; washed out in high flows.
233.7 - *Waterspout Rapids
Class 111 to IV depending on flows. A rock at lower end of rapids near Oregon side of center creates an unexpected hole at some levels. The rapids wash out in high water. Scouting recommended from Oregon side.
231.6 - Sluice Creek Rapids
No scouting necessary; large roller-coaster waves.
231.6 - Sluice Creek
Difficult landing. Very difficult climb to bench located on downstream side of creek; capacity large group.
231.5 - *Rush Creek Rapids
Class 111 to IV, depending on flows; more turbulent during higher water. At the head of the rapids near center of river, a large rock creates a huge hole with much turbulence at all flows. Rush Creek is marked by a large rock near bottom of rapid that is highly visible except during extremely high water. Always scout.
231.5 - Rush Creek
Marginal landing located downstream from rapid; rocky beach. Water dries up in summer; capacity large group.
229.8 - Johnson Bar Landing
Beach, water available at Sheep Creek; capacity large group
229.6 - *Sheep Creek Rapids
Class 11 to 111; some rocks to avoid.
229.4 - Sheep Creek
Fair landing; pull in at creek. Camp is on upriver side of creek; cabin on bench north of creek is occupied under special use permit. Shade, water; capacity large group.
229.4 - End of Improved Navigation
No navigation markers up river from this point.
229.0 - Steep Creek
Low-water site. Beach, good landing below creek; capacity medium group.
228.6 - Yreka Bar
Poor powerboat landing. Shade, no water; capacity large group.
228.1 - Upper Sand Creek
Poor powerboat landing; no shade or water; capacity medium group.
228.0 - Sand Creek
Administrative cabin for Idaho and Oregon Fish and Wildlife Departments.
227.5 - Pine Bar
Beach, shade, water. Located below Willow Creek; capacity large group.
226.5 - Upper Quartz Creek
Rocky landing, poor powerboat site. No water, little shade. Located above Quartz Creek; capacity large group.
226.2 - Lower Quartz Creek
Good Landing, no water, some shade. Located below Quartz Creek; capacity large group.
225.1 - Caribou Creek
Good floatboat landing, poor powerboat landing. Located below Caribou Creek. Shade; capacity large group.
224.5 - Dry Gulch
Shade, beach, no water; capacity large group.
224.3 - Big Bar
Fair powerboat landing; rocky. No shade, no water; capacity large group.
224.1 - Big Bar
Used in conjunction with sheep grazing; landing strip on Idaho side of river. Not maintained; public to use at own risk.
223.7 - Temperance Creek
Sheep ranch under special use permit. Not available for camping.
222.9 - Suicide Point
Trail carved in cliffs over 400 feet above river.
222.5 - Upper Salt Creek
Beach, shade. Water at Salt Creek; capacity large group.
222.4 - Lower Salt Creek
Beach, shade. Water at Salt Creek; capacity large group.
222.2 - Two Corral
Beach, shade, no water; capacity large group.
222.1 - Gracie Bar
Good floatboat landing, shade; capacity large group.
221.6 - Half Moon Bar
Easy landing, small site, no water; capacity medium group.
220.9 - Slaughter Gulch
Good landing; capacity large group.
220.5 - Kirkwood Historic Ranch
Historic ranch, museum, interpretive site, toilet. Public welcome, but no drinking water available. Accessed by an off-road vehicle trail. Communications available; report fires and emergencies here.
220.3 - Kirkwood Bar Sites
Three sites within easy walking distance of Kirkwood Historic Ranch; shade, toilet, tables; capacity large group at each site.
220.0 - Yankee Bar
Beach, no water, little shade; capacity small group.
219.6 - Russell Bar
Fair landing for rafts, poor landing for powerboats. Shade, no water; capacity large group.
218.9 - *Middle Kirby Rapids
Class 11 or 111, depending on water level. Large roller- coaster waves.
218.7 - Kirby Creek Resort
Private land, resort; not available for camping.
218.2 - Cat Gulch
Easy landing, small beach. Shade; capacity medium group.
217.0 - Corral Creek
Cobble beach, shade, water upriver 200 yards; capacity large group.
216.4 - Fish Trap Bar
Sandy beach, good landing. No water; capacity large group.
216.3 - Wild and Scenic River Boundary
The river north of this point is classified"Scenic"; south of this line it is classified "Wild".
216.3 - Upper Pittsburg
Road access, campground, parking area. Toilet, table, some shade, no water.
216.2 - Klopton Creek
Road access. Good floatboat landing. Shade, no water; capacity small group.
215.7 - Silver Shed
Good landing, shade, no water; capacity large group.
214.9 - Pittsburg Landing
Road access, campground, boat launch ramp and float apron. Some shade, drinking water, toilet, table.
214.8 - Pittsburg Administrative Site
Administrative site, not available for camping. Communications available; report fires and emergencies here.
213.8 - *Lower Pleasant Valley Rapids
Class 11 or 111, depending on water level. Rocks above rapids; turbulent.
213.7 - Pleasant Valley
Boat landing very difficult at some water levels. Shade, water 150 yards upstream from camp, off-road vehicle trail; capacity medium group.
212.4 - Davis Creek
Good landing, no water, little shade; capacity medium group.
211.8 - McCarty Creek
Difficult landing, no water; capacity medium group.
210.8 - Big Canyon
Fair landing; water, shade, table; capacity large group.
210.5 - Somers Range
No water, small site; capacity small group.
210.4 - Lower Big Canyon
No water, sandy beach; capacity small group.
210.1 - Somers Creek
Rocky landing; water, table, shade, capacity large group
209.8 - Camp Creek
Some shade, no water, tables; capacity large group.
209.4 - Tryon Creek
Good landing; shade, water at creek, table; capacity large group.
208.3 - Lookout Creek
Shallow landing; no water, some shade, table; capacity largegroup.
205.3 - Copper Bar and Resort
Resort under special use permit; not available for camping.
204.4 - Bob Creek
Sandy beach, no water, shade, table; capacity large group
202.9 - Wolf Creek
No shade, no water, private property, private road; capacitysmall group.
202.0 - Bar Creek
Poor powerboat site. Water dries up. Shade; capacity large group.
199.1 - Deep Creek
Site of Chinese massacre in 1887. Poor landing; pull in near creek. Carry gear over boulders 20 yards to site. Shade, water; capacity medium group.
198.5 - Robinson Gulch
No water, shade, table; capacity large group.
198.3 - Dug Creek
Water, small site; capacity small group.
196.7 - Nez Perce Crossing
Site of Nez Perce crossing in spring of 1877, interpretive sign.
196.6 - Dug Bar Landing
Primitive launch area, road access. Toilet, no water; capacity medium group.
196.2 - Dug Bar
Rocky landing; road, access point. Toilet, no water; capacity medium group.
195.3 - Warm Springs
Warm spring, no drinking water; beach, shade. Private land; capacity large group.
195.2 - *Warm Springs Rapids
Class 11; Class 111 at high water flows.
194.1 - Zig Zag
Beach, no water; capacity small group.
193.2 - Divide Creek
Low-water site above mouth of creek. Water, shade; capacity large group.
192.4 - China Bar
Beach; capacity large group.
191.9 - Mountain Chief Mine Tunnel
Interest Point—tunnel goes through to Imnaha River; trail to mouth of Imnaha.
191.7 - Imnaha
Poor powerboat landing. Pull in above Imnaha confluence. Shade no water; capacity medium group.
191.6 - *Imnaha Rapids
Class III in lower flows; heavy waves, some rocky areas. Washes out at high flows.
191.4 - Eureka Bar
Swift water for raft landing. Poor powerboat landing. Table, no water; capacity large group.
190.4 - Knight Creek
Good landing, shade, water; capacity large group.
188.3 - Salmon Mouth
Beach, little shade, no water; capacity large group.
188.0 - Salmon Falls
Beach, no shade; capacity large group.
187.8 - Salmon Bar
Tabie, some beach area; capacity large group.
184.6 - Geneva Bar
Sand and rock beach, no water; capacity large group.
183.4 - Cook Creek
Sandy beach, water; capacity medium group.
182.0 - Lower Jim Creek
Sandy beach, shade, table; capacity large group.
181.8 - Meat Hole
Beach, no water, small low water site; capacity small group.
181.5 - Cactus Bar
Good landing, beach, no water; capacity medium group.
181.1 - Upper Cottonwood Creek
Water, shade, beach, table; capacity large group.
180.9 - Lower Cottonwood Creek
Water, shade, beach; capacity large group.
180.2 - Scenic River Boundary
Study segment starts here and extends north to Waliowa- Whitman National Forest Boundary
179.81 - Upper Cougar Bar
Beach, no water or shade, low water site; capacity medium group.
178.6 - Coon Hollow
Interesting stop at old cabin with flotsam museum. Some shade, table; capacity large group.
178.2 - Cochran Island
Float camp only due to shallow river approach, secluded, shade, table, no water; capacity large group. Short hike to Coon Hollow.
178.1 - Garden Creek
Beach, shade, small low water site; capacity small group.
177.5 - Upper Cache Creek
Good landing, sandy beach, pack to bench from river, table, capacity large group.
176.9 - Cache Creek Administrative Site
Ranch Visitor contacVinformation point, north entry permit station, information, shade, water, toilet, tables, maps, visitor center and picnic area, day use only.
176.8 - Lower Cache Creek
Beach, no water or shade, small low water site; capacity small group.
176.0 - Oregon/Washington State Line
This is also the Wallowa-Whitman NF boundary and the NRA's north boundary.
168.4 - Public Launch and Land Facility
Downstream from confluence with Grande Ronde. Launch and landing facilities owned by the State of Washington and operated by the Bureau of Land Management.
168.3 - Heller Bar

Go to : [ Snake National Forest ]


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 26 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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