To Hells (Canyon) and Back Again

A Five-Day Adventure in Hells Canyon

The powerful waters of the Snake River slice through the mountains of central Idaho, creating the deepest gorge in the United States: Hells Canyon.

Here, the land is as beautiful as it is dangerous. It’s full of myth, legend, beauty and the best whitewater in the nation.

We’ve put together an itinerary for a high-adrenaline adventure in Hells Canyon. We packed as much excitement as we could into five days of rafting, hiking, horseback riding and more.

Day One

Hells Canyon

Photo Credit: Elkhorn Bed and Breakfast

From Boise, take the scenic Highway 95 drive up to Mesa (about 2 hours). Stay for the night at Elkhorn Bed and Breakfast. It’s the rustic B&B of your dreams with luxurious touches — a true celebration of Idaho hospitality. The owner raises sheep, goats, and Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. That’s right— this B&B has puppies. What could be cuter? Elkhorn can also accommodate your pups, as well as horses and mules.

Snack on their famous sweet buns and homemade chevre cheese, made from the milk of the goats you’ll see out of the windows. Before you settle down on “the most comfortable beds in Idaho,” head outside and experience the best stargazing of your life.

Day Two

Hells Canyon

Take a 15-minute drive over to Round Up Coffee House, a cute coffee hut serving baked goods and scrumptious Dawson Taylor coffee.

Afterward, head east and hike the beautiful Council Mountain in the Payette National Forest. Stay near the base and keep it low key among the pine forest and rushing creeks, or kick it up a notch and head to the summit. You’ll pass through sub-alpine meadows full of native wildflowers and be rewarded at the top with an unparalleled panorama of the Seven Devils, Wallowa, and Owyhee mountain ranges.

Keep your hike safe and fun by bringing plenty of water and outfitting yourself in weather-appropriate clothing, and always stick to marked trails.

Hells Canyon

Photo Credit: America’s Rafting Co

Day Three

After breakfast, drive along an old logging road down into Hells Canyon..

Explore the Snake River with Hells Canyon AdventuresGlide over the surging whitewater on a jet boat, or navigate the powerful rapids by raft. Either way, it’s a total adrenaline rush.

If you want to extend your whitewater adventure, you can book a 3-6 day tour through America’s Rafting Co. or Hells Canyon Raft.

Photo courtesy of Hells Canyon Adventures

Day Four

Hells Canyon

Photo Credit: Mundo Hot Springs

Time to kick back. Hit up Mundo Hot Springs, a few minutes’ drive west of Mesa. And yes, you’ll want to spend a whole day here. Besides soaking away your worries in the large geothermal pool, you’ve gotta treat yourself to lunch at Mundo’s bistro. A Mundo Burger and a fresh fruit smoothie? Yes, please.

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The Weiser River runs through Mundo’s property. Take a leisurely stroll on the Weiser River Trail and absorb the beauty of this winding river habitat.

Before you head back to Elkhorn B&B, stop by the charmingly named Shy Simon’s Pizza in Council. It’s the perfect place to relax with a cold beer and a hot slice or two. Or three.

Day Five

After breakfast, enjoy a lazy morning at the ranch. Explore some of the historic homesteads nearby.

Take in the stunning mountain scenery one last time before heading back to Boise.

Hells Canyon

Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Enjoy a laid-back breakfast and bid goodbye to the sheep. Take in the stunning mountain scenery one last time before heading back to Boise. It’s been the trip of a lifetime.

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