We uncover traces of past inhabitants while hiking to ancient pictograph and petroglyph sites and to historic cabins and homesteads. Class III & IV rapids highlight our float through the stunning scenery of America's deepest canyon. Throughout the day, fishermen have a chance to catch trout, smallmouth bass and sturgeon. And our evenings allow us time to unwind from the day's excitement as we enjoy delicious gourmet meals and Idaho's brilliant night sky.
The Snake River in Hells Canyon is located on the border of Idaho and Oregon, northwest of Boise. We recommend you stay with us in our Little Salmon Lodge in Pollock, Idaho the night before your adventure begins. At the lodge, we will have an optional pre-trip orientation at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain Time). You will have a chance to meet other participants on your trip and your trip leader, and you will have the opportunity to ask any last-minute questions you may have before we launch the next morning.
If you are staying at the Lodge, breakfast is served at 6:00 a.m. Our vans depart the Lodge at 6:30 a.m. for Hells Canyon Dam. If you are staying in Cambridge, Idaho, expect us to meet you at approximately 8:30 a.m. (Mountain Time). Here we will make one last stop for fuel, restrooms, and snacks before we head into the mountains towards Hells Canyon Dam.
Once we reach our launch site at the dam, we engage in a thorough safety orientation. Usually by 10:30 a.m., we depart the boat ramp and begin our journey downstream. The first hour or two on the river are relatively relaxing and a great time for everyone to learn to paddle, or get acquainted with the inflatable kayaks. We run several Class II and Class III rapids. We stop for a delicious lunch on the river’s edge in the early afternoon.
After lunch, we run one of our bigger Class IV rapids, Wild Sheep. First we scout the rapid and discuss how to navigate through it. Then we run it (there is pretty much a guarantee to get soaked by a crashing wave or two!). Depending on the water flows, sometimes we also run our largest rapid of the trip on this day, known as Granite Rapids. We always stop to scout the rapid and discuss the options with our guests.
Several times during the day we stop at places of historical and cultural importance, such as ancient Indian pictograph sites and abandoned homesteads from the pioneer days. The cabins and Native American sites are all well preserved and our guides offer colorful stories of the history of the sites.
We usually arrive at camp around 5:00 p.m. When we arrive, camp has been completely set up by our gearboat guide who traveled ahead of us. Personal tents are standing, and dinner is already in the making. Guests usually have about two hours to do what they please: take a hike along one of the Canyon’s numerous trails, fish for smallmouth bass and rainbow trout, or just relax in camp.
Hors d’oeuvres are usually served around 6:00 p.m. and dinner follows at about 7:00. Our gourmet meals are delicious and plentiful. Following dinner, the guides clean up while the guests spend time with each other around a campfire, singing, telling stories, enjoying a beverage, and beginning to enter into the flow of our trip—something we call “river time.” Dessert is always baked fresh each evening, and the night ends with warm companionship and a sky full of brilliant stars.
These days follow the same general pattern as the first day. Breakfast is served between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. and we are usually on the river by 10:00 a.m. Each day features numerous rapids, several planned stops, and amazing scenery. Guests have opportunities to enjoy hiking, fishing, and swimming in the Snake River’s warm waters. At approximately 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of Day 5, we reach the boat ramp at Heller Bar.
The guides load the rafts and equipment on the trailers while the guests are free to get changed and take some group photographs before we leave the river. We drive 2.5 hours back to our headquarters in Pollock, Idaho. Most people choose to stay with us one last night at the Little Salmon Lodge before departing home or heading their next destination.
* Extensions: We offer several other activities that can be combined with this 5-day Snake River trip to create an exciting multi-sport adventure. Those activities include:
- Hiking in the Seven Devils Wilderness
- Mountain biking the rim of Hells Canyon
- Horseback riding to the historic Gilmore Ranch
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USA Idaho Outdoor: Water Drifter Canoeing/Kayaking/Rafting Camping
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