Hiking and Camping in Hells Canyon

Morning in Hells Canyon

The past weekend, Chris and I decided to shake off some dust and get out for some hiking and camping. Getting in some photography was a priority too, of course. We decided to make it our shake down trip to see what shape our gear was in, and just take a look at an area that has our curiosity piqued – Hells Canyon. This meant no big hike ins and camping – just parking the car and pitching the tent. We didn’t want to hike several hours only to find out something was wrong with our backpacking stove or worse. Turns out I need a new sleeping pad, badly, but everything else is in good shape.

The area we wanted to explore takes a bit to get to, about six hours from our home to the south side of the canyon and Hells Canyon Dam. The first night we camped near the dam so we could get an early start on hiking into the canyon. There are a lot of unimproved campsites along side the road. Well, just about any place you can either park a car and pitch a tent or fit an RV seems to be an unimproved campsite. Despite this, there seemed to be little trash. It could be that we were just there early in the year and there hadn’t been time for the trash to accumulate. We will be visiting again later in the summer to see if this is the case.

That first night was dominated by an amazing thunder and lightning show. The sound was amazing as it echoed off the canyon walls and traveled down its length. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring the rain sleeve for our camera, so we couldn’t take any pictures. That will not be happening in the future. It rained hard, and the wind got pretty crazy, but we holed up snug and dry in our tent.

The next morning we packed up and headed to the trailhead. The trail itself can take several days to hike its entire length, so we only did a small portion. The picture for this post is one I took from that hike. The portion of the trail we hiked is not difficult, but I highly recommend good hiking boots. Also, it’s not good for bad knees, and it will wind you if you are the sit-in-front-of-computer/TV-all-day type. We didn’t do too bad, but we were a little sore the next day. It was worth a few sore spots though. We have plans now to do the entire length of the trail later this summer.

That evening we found another camping spot up an old dirt road that would eventually take us to Cuprum. We didn’t quite make it there as the road got a little too bumpy and rocky for our trusty vehicle, Carma. She was spunky up the hill and didn’t have any problems, but she’s just not an SUV. She thinks she is, but we haven’t had the heart to break it to her fully. The roads would be great though for some mountain biking, so that was put on our “List of Things To Do” for the summer.

The next morning we headed back down the hill and back home. On the way we started making plans for the summer ahead. If we do half of what we planned on our way home, we will be very busy for the next several months.

Oh, there’s a great coffee shop in New Meadows, Idaho called “Roadhouse Java.” We found it purely by accident on our way back. We can highly recommend it.

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