Hells Canyon Dam

  • Easy (to Stud Creek)
  • 2.4 miles round trip
  • 180 feet elevation gain
  • Open all year
  • Use: hikers

  • Easy (to Deep Creek)
  • 0.4 miles round trip
  • 150 feet elevation gain

Built by the Idaho Power Company in 1956, the 330-foot-tall Hells Canyon Dam flooded 20 miles of the deepest gorge in the United States and led to the demise of the native salmon runs for half of Idaho. Today, surrounded on three sides by the Hells Canyon Wilderness, the colossal concrete structure remains a monument to the threats facing America’s most scenic places. But the dam’s paved access road also offers hikers a back door into the midst of Hells Canyon’s mile-deep chasm. From road’s end, an easy trail follows the whitewater Snake River into the canyon’s wondrous wilds. At the dam itself, a railed catwalk descends the fearsome cliffs to Deep Creek. There are no easier paths to the spectacular scenery of Hells Canyon.

If you’re coming from the west, leave Interstate …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon.