Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

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Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Hells Canyon Oregon.JPG
Hells Canyon in 2002
Map showing the location of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
LocationOregon & Idaho, U.S.
Nearest cityGrangeville, Idaho
Coordinates45°36′N 116°30′W / 45.6°N 116.5°W / 45.6; -116.5[1]Coordinates: 45°36′N 116°30′W / 45.6°N 116.5°W / 45.6; -116.5[1]
Area652,488 acres (2,641 km2)
EstablishedDecember 31, 1975 [2][3][4]
Governing bodyU.S. Forest Service
WebsiteHells Canyon NRA

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is a United States national recreation area on the borders of the U.S. states of Oregon and Idaho. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, the recreation area was established by Congress and signed by President Gerald Ford in late 1975 to protect the historic and archaeological values of the Hells Canyon area and the area of the Snake River between Hells Canyon Dam and the Oregon–Washington border.[2][4][5]

The natural-color image of Hells Canyon was captured by NASA's Landsat-7 satellite on September 19, 2002.

Roughly 215,000 acres (335 sq mi; 870 km2) of the recreation area are designated the Hells Canyon Wilderness. There are nearly 900 miles (1,400 km) of hiking trails in the recreation area. The largest portion of the area lies in eastern Wallowa County, Oregon. Smaller portions lie in southwestern Idaho County, Idaho, northwestern Adams County, Idaho, and northeastern Baker County, Oregon.

It was formally dedicated in 1976, in June in Idaho,[6][7] and in late July in Oregon.[8][9]

Hells Canyon Archeological District[edit]

Hells Canyon Archeological District
Area12,000 acres (49 km2)
NRHP reference No.84000984[10]
Added to NRHPAugust 10, 1984

All or partly included in the HCNRA is the Hells Canyon Archeological District, a 12,000-acre (19 sq mi; 49 km2) historic district listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It includes 536 contributing sites, 23 contributing buildings, and 58 other contributing structures.[10][11]

There are many sites with pictographs, the largest of which are Buffalo Eddy, with more than five hundred pictographs, and Pittsburg Landing, where nearly thirty boulders are covered with them.[12] An interpretive site has a short trail to interpretive panels displaying petroglyphs and pictographs.[13]


There are 17 campgrounds in the national recreation area. Pittsburg Landing, with a river boat launch is the only area with RV camping on the Idaho side,[14] and there are seven on the Oregon side.[15]

Snake River National Recreation Trail[edit]

The Snake River National Recreation Trail #102[16](SRNRT) lies within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and along the Idaho side of the Snake River, from near Lamont Springs, downstream, to Pittsburg Landing. The SRNRT was designated in 1980 under the National Trails System Act. It was constructed during the period of the late 1800s to about the 1930s. Access to the SRNRT can be gained via road to the trailhead[17] at Pittsburg Landing on the north end of the trail, or, by boat access near Hells Canyon Dam on the south end of the trail. Access can also be gained via trails leading from Seven Devils Wilderness Area trail head at Windy Saddle (elevation 7200') via either the Granite Creek trails or Sheep Creek trails.


  • Ewert, Sara E. Dant. "Evolution of an Environmentalist: Senator Frank Church and the Hells Canyon Controversy." Montana: The Magazine of Western History 51 (Spring 2001): 36–51.
  1. ^ "Hells Canyon National Recreation Area". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
  2. ^ a b "Ford signs NRA bill". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. January 2, 1976. p. 16A.
  3. ^ "Ford signs canyon bill". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 2, 1976. p. 1.
  4. ^ a b Husk, Lee Lewis (July 16, 2018). "Hells Canyon Fifty-Year Anniversary". 1859: Oregon's magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  5. ^ "Establishment of HCNRA". U.S. Forest Service. Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2007-07-22.
  6. ^ "Dedication ends Hells Canyon tiff". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. June 21, 1976. p. 1.
  7. ^ Tate, Cassandra (June 21, 1976). "Recreation area dedicated". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1A.
  8. ^ "Second dedication of Hells Canyon set". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). July 30, 1976. p. 16A.
  9. ^ O'Connell, Mary J. (August 1, 1976). "It's complete! Hells Canyon NRA dedicated". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1A.
  10. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  11. ^ "National Register off Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form: Hells Canyon Archaeological District" (PDF).
  12. ^ Keyser, James D. (1992). Indian Rock Art of the Columbia Plateau. p. 104. ISBN 0 295 97197-5.
  13. ^ "Pittsburg Rockart Interpretive Site". United States Forest Service. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Hells Canyon National Recreation Area- Snake River".
  15. ^ "Hells Canyon - Oregon/Wallowa Valley".
  16. ^ https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/wallowa-whitman/recarea/?recid=51661
  17. ^ https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/wallowa-whitman/recreation/recarea/?recid=51665

External links[edit]