As the deepest canyon in North America, Hells Canyon is the perfect long weekend destination for nature lovers worldwide. The canyon offers something for every traveler with its rugged beauty, thrilling outdoor activities, and rich history.

However, with so much to offer, it can feel overwhelming trying to see and do everything on your list before the weekend is over. To ensure you have the best trip possible, whether it’s a solo trip, a romantic getaway, or a family vacation, plan ahead. We’re here to help you plan with these eight things to know before a long weekend trip in Hells Canyon:

Plan for Weather Changes

Weather conditions in Hells Canyon can vary drastically. To get the most out of your trip, check the forecast in advance so you can pack and plan activities accordingly. Summers are typically hot and dry, while winters are colder with occasional snow.

However, temperatures often fluctuate throughout the day, and the weather can change rapidly. Come prepared for the typical weather of the season, but be sure to bring layers and plan backup activities for changes in temperature and precipitation.

A campsite with a light green tent and five colorful fabric folding chairs arranged in a semi-circle around a fire pit.

You Might Need a Permit

Certain activities in Hells Canyon, such as fishing, boating, and camping in designated areas, may require permits or passes. Check with local authorities, national park services, or tour operators to obtain the necessary permits in advance of your trip.

This ensures you’re able to participate in all the activities you or your group are hoping to try in the canyon. Obtaining the necessary permits to partake in these activities also helps you avoid legal issues while helping maintain the canyon’s ecosystem.

Don’t Forget the Essentials

As you prepare for your long weekend, don’t forget to pack your travel essentials and supplies for enjoying outdoor activities in Hells Canyon. These essentials should include sunscreen and insect repellent.

Even on cloudy days, the intense sun exposure can cause uncomfortable sunburns or lead to long-term skin damage. A wide-brimmed hat and polarized sunglasses can offer additional protection from the sun’s glare, which is made stronger by the water’s reflection.

In the summer, pests can be an annoyance and distraction from your trip. Remembering to pack bug spray will ensure you can focus on the adventure, not the bug bites.

Enjoy the Wildlife . . . From a Distance

Hells Canyon is teeming with diverse wildlife like bighorn sheep, mule deer, and various fish and bird species. Though it can be tempting to get as close as possible to these unique animals, remember to respect wildlife by observing them from a safe distance.

If you’re an animal lover, consider packing binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens to get a closer look at wildlife while maintaining your distance. Getting close to animals can be dangerous for the animals and you. Instead, admire the beauty of wildlife responsibly, leaving no trace of your presence to preserve their environment.

A father and his son fish while sitting in green fabric folding chairs perched on a large rock at sunset.

Leave No Trace

On the topic of leaving no trace, you should follow the Leave No Trace principles to help preserve Hells Canyon for its flora, fauna, and future visitors. These principles include the following:

  • Packing up and removing all trash, including biodegradable items like food scraps, from campsites and hiking trails when you leave
  • Staying on designated trails to avoid damage to vegetation
  • Taking no plants, animals, or other parts of the canyon’s ecosystem with you when you go

Take time to learn the Leave No Trace principles before your trip, follow them, and educate fellow travelers on these guidelines to help promote responsible outdoor recreation and conservation efforts in Hells Canyon.

There May Be Burn Bans in Place

Fire safety is critical in Hells Canyon due to the dry climate. Check for any fire restrictions or bans before your trip and follow them throughout the weekend.

Additionally, use designated fire pits or stoves for cooking and campfires, and always have a water source or fire extinguisher nearby. Before you leave your campsite or other area where you have had a fire, be sure to extinguish all flames and hot coals to avoid damage to the environment.

Furthermore, avoid activities that may spark wildfires, such as discarding lit cigarettes or using fireworks, especially in summer when the weather is warmer and drier. By following these restrictions, you can help protect Hells Canyon from wildfires.

You May Not Have Cell Service

While some parts of Hells Canyon may offer sporadic service based on your cell phone provider, other areas will have limited cell coverage. Before your trip, inform a family member or friend of your trip’s itinerary and when you plan to return. Let colleagues, friends, and family know you may not be able to reply to messages until you return from your long weekend.

If you plan to hike or camp, familiarize yourself with alternative ways of signaling for distress in case your phone doesn’t work during an emergency. Then, relax and enjoy some time away from constant digital distractions!

Plan Activities for Everyone

Hells Canyon is packed with outdoor activities, offering something for every member of your family or travel party. Whether you’re looking for hiking trails with views of the canyon or Hells Canyon fishing trips along the Snake River, be sure to plan your itinerary. Book activities ahead of time to ensure you get to try everything you want to.

Consider how long each activity will take, add extra time for moving between activities, and plan for weather changes. Guided tours and excursions, such as our guided fishing and jet boat tours, are also available for those looking for expert insight and structure during their trip.

With so many amazing activities, it would be easy to fill a whole week with excursions in Hells Canyon. Now that you’re aware of these eight things to know before a long weekend trip in Hells Canyon, you can plan a short trip that packs a big punch. You’ll get to see what Hells Canyon has to offer without negatively impacting its rich ecosystem. By following the tips in this blog, you can ensure your travel party and all future visitors have a great time in this amazing natural destination.