I recently ventured over into Idaho for an adventure travel conference, but beforehand I went on an adventure! It was also a learning experience trip, since I had no clue the Grand Canyon wasn’t the deepest canyon in North America. Did you know that Hells Canyon which runs along the Idaho border is actually the deepest gorge?
Our adventure kicked off from Lewiston, Idaho. It’s just over two hours south from Coeur d’Alene, or about five and a half hours from Seattle, WA. The best way to explore Hells Canyon is via a boat tour. There are multiple boat ride operators that run along Hells Canyon, we took a ride with Snake Dancer Excursions.
Snake Dancer Excursions in Hells Canyon
Very cool fact about riding along the Snake River through Hells Canyon is that it’s a north flowing river. So while heading downstream, you’re actually traveling north. A few tips about choosing a boat ride along Hells Canyon — Snake Dancer Excursions offer half and full day tours, but they also can arrange private tours for larger groups. If you can splurge, arranging a private tour for your family could be a very memorable experience.
Traveling along the river really changes depending on the season you’re visiting. We happened to be visiting in the spring (April) and it was considered the greenest time for the canyon. I recall mentioning that during the trip it reminded me of New Zealand, even though I’ve never been to New Zealand! No idea why that’s what I thought, but that’s what I picture NZ looking like. I hear that the summer months are the prime tourism month for the area, so there’s a lot of boat traffic, but there’s also great beach spots to stop at along the way.
Hells Canyon Recreational Area
We did make one stop at the Hells Canyon National Recreational Area which is on the Oregon border area. It was the ideal spot for a lunch time picnic. Our guides at Snake Dancer Excursions packed lunch for us, fried chicken with sides, and cookies for dessert! On site they have a small park ranger station that has a bit of information about the area. This is also your chance for taking a bathroom break.
Our half day excursion seemed to end too soon and we had to turn around to return back to our launch point. Since the river was at a high level, the rapids had been flooded over, so it was actually a pretty smooth ride along the river. When the rapids are in full effect I can bet that the ride would be quite the adventure.
For traveling families I think a half day excursion is perfect. Again, if you can get one of their private excursions that doesn’t use the bus-style seating I think it would turn a basic tour into a real adventure. With a private group you can really shape the itinerary and customize your day out in the deepest canyon in North America!
Lindsay Creek Vineyards
If you’re planning a trip to Lewiston for a visit to Hells Canyon, I have to tell you about Lindsay Creek Vineyards. They’re based in Lewiston and have a beautiful tasting room that overlooks the valley. I loved getting to sample their delicious wines and especially loved toasting in the sunset from their outdoor patio.