Hells Canyon from Washington

Hells Canyon, created by the Snake River, runs along the border or Oregon and Idaho.  There is also a small part of the canyon, before the Snake and Clearwater rivers meet that runs along the border of Washington and Idaho.  I don’t have much experience around Hells Canyon, but the Washington/Idaho section has a constant flow and tiny communities at the bottom of this impressive gorge.  One of these communities is Heller Bar, situated at the confluence of the Grand Ronde and Snake rivers.  I had come here over a month ago to hike; since that visit I’ve wanted to come back and hike further back into the hills.  The weather was very nice for mid-February, but in retrospect, more cloud cover would have been nice.

Hiking up atop the canyon is not an easy task.  I had scoped out one or two “trails” on Google Earth and finally decided my route once I arrived.  It was a very exhausting hike but I got o see some interesting mini-gulches along the way.  From my parking spot to the overview, I hiked two miles and went up 1900 feet.  I was glad to discover that when I got home because it sure felt that strenuous!  Once I arrived at the overview, I was hoping for a nice open view of the river below.  Unfortunately due to the canyon walls I could only see a small portion of the river, but still had a nice view of the canyon.  If I was one or two ridges over I’d probably have the clearer view I hoped for but that would have been quite an additional hike.  Here are two of the images I took from this vantage.  The color photo is of Craig Mountain in Idaho.  It’s more of a high ridge than mountain, but what’s most impressive is that it sits 4000 feet above the Snake River!

Hells Canyon near Heller Bar

Craig Mountain above Hells Canyon

The area I was hiking in is close to a Wildlife Management Area in Washington.  I wasn’t surprise to enjoy some wildlife sitings.  I saw a herd of 18 elk while hiking and I even scared off a coyote who was very surprised to see me.  The ultimate pay-off came once I was back on the road and saw nine bighorn sheep just a few yards away.

Bighorn Sheep at Heller Bar

Despite being very hungry once I got back to my vehicle I kept on getting distracted by photo opportunities.  Late afternoon light was being reflected in the Grand Ronde river which was now in shade.  I spotted a nice section with multiple reflection pools so I stopped and shot until the sun no longer hit the cliffs.  I also found an oddly placed lava rock along the shore.  These are rather plentiful in the hills and I’ve noticed them on both of my hikes.  I assume they get washed down often, but it’s texture and color provided a nice juxtaposition along the shore.

Reflection Pool along the Grand Ronde

Lava Rock along the Grand Ronde

Two-shot pano of Heller Bar


4 thoughts on “Hells Canyon from Washington

  1. I’m jealous! That first one is excellent! I really like how the light haze at top right enhances the sense of depth. The color palette in Lava Rock is really nice too, as are the others.

  2. Thanks Jackson. That first shot was difficult because the sun was very strong in the upper corner. I’ll be going back in the spring when I can drive up to Craig Mountain and get some nice views of both the Snake and Salmon Rivers.

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