In the lush green country of Idaho lies a haven of relaxation and fun. Don't let the name fool you because this park is heavenly. Hells Gate State Park, located in Lewiston, Idaho, along Idaho’s Banana Belt, provides a longer warm season than much of the state, making it the perfect late-season escape from the cold areas of nearby cities.
The park sits at just 733 feet above sea level, allowing its visitors to bask in the warmth of the lower elevation. Partially protected from winds and weather by being in the valley, it also boasts rising basalt columns. Amateur geologists and anthropologists will enjoy the rich history of the area evident in the natural environment all around the park. Once home to a Nez Perce group, the park is full of clues to the ancient past and is also known as a historical location where the Lewis and Clark Expedition stopped along their Northwest Passage to the Pacific Coast.
Hells Gate State Park runs alongside the Snake River and is next to the downstream entrance to one of North America’s largest canyons, Hells Canyon, known for its amazing white-water rafting. You can take a guided raft trip, or if you prefer, kayak or canoe the river yourself. Is fishing more your speed? Fly fishing the Snake River is epic. Hikers and adventurers will love exploring the rugged terrain. But if you are looking for a restful getaway, Hells Gate State Park is a scenic wonderland perfect for an escape to nature. Hitch up the trailer, and don't forget your hiking boots for this one of a kind RV adventure.
Hells Gate State Park is a riverside park located minutes away from Lewiston, Idaho. The park is located along the Snake River and runs next to the Idaho and Washington state lines. The park is approximately 100 miles south of Spokane, Washington, and 120 miles south of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Visitors must pay a daily entrance fee at the park’s entrance station. This fee is an added cost to the regular camping fees. RVers should enter the park through the main entrance and follow the road to the campground area, located in the back of the park.
If you’ve always wanted to enjoy the beautiful Snake River, this is the KOA campground for you. With eight boat docks and a fuel dock, you’ll be able to fully experience this legendary river. The campground also has a walking path along the river, a restaurant, store, and sandy beach. Pull-through sites can accommodate most rigs up to 45 feet in length and have 50-amp hookup options available. There are more than 60 lovely paved RV sites as well as camping cabins and tent sites that can accommodate pop-up campers and truck campers.
The Hells Gate State Park Campground is a large, reservable, year-round campground that is divided up into three separate loops. The Aspen Loop is a beautiful campground with partial shade and 26 RV, trailer, and tent sites, nine with full hookups, and 17 with 50-amp electric service and water only. These sites range from accommodating 44-foot rigs all the way up to 72-foot motorhomes, and most sites are pull-through. The sites are paved and wide. The camp is pet-friendly, allows up to eight people per site, and has nearby restrooms and showers. Fire pits and picnic tables are available at each site. The dump station is located near the park's entrance. Generators are allowed, but they must be silenced from 10 PM to 7 AM. You'll be enjoying all the comforts of home in this lovely campground.
The Cottonwood Loop, a more basic campground, has spaces ranging from 18 to 59 feet in length and offers primitive-style camping spaces. The Cottonwood Loop has flushing toilets, showers, and a community water station. All of the loops provide partial shade and are close to hiking trails, a community fire ring, and a playground. The dump station is located near the park's entrance. Generators are allowed, but they must be silenced from 10 PM to 7 AM.
Much like the Aspen Loop, the Birch Loop can take RVs and trailers up to 72 feet long. This adorable and partially shady campground has 33 sites, one with full hookups, including sewer, and 32 with water and 50-amp electric service. You'll find a mixture of pull-through and back-in sites at this location. These sites are also paved, and they come equipped with a fire pit and picnic table. Restrooms and showers are nearby and a dump station is located near the park entrance. Leashed pets are welcome, and quiet hours are observed between 10 PM and 7 AM.
All of the campsites at Hells Gate State Park take reservations; however, if there are any unreserved when you arrive, sites may be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
Boating doesn't quite sum up the experience of heading down the Snake River. River-rafting down the Snake is a must-do when you're in the area. Take a float trip down Hells Canyon and have a picnic next to the river. There are several companies offering guided river excursions for various levels of thrills. The Hells Gate Marina, located along the Snake River, offers river enthusiasts many other boating options as well. During the summer months, visitors can rent kayaks and canoes from the marina. If you’d like to tour the river, but you want someone else to lead the way, sign up for a jet boat tour and see the Snake River from a different perspective. Visitors who bring their own boats have access to the public boat launch.
If you are a novice to nature, or you need some gear to get started with outdoor activities, Idaho’s First Time Adventure Program is for you! At Hells Gate State Park, a knowledgeable staff member teams up with your family to give you the tools to make adventuring a little less stressful. The park provides instruction and some of the gear you might need to camp, bike, and birdwatch inside of the park. Make adventuring a life-long experience! Contact the park for more information.
Idaho’s Junior Ranger Program aims to teach kids the importance of keeping state parks beautiful. By learning about plants and wildlife, kids ages 6-12 can become aware of what it takes to keep the park pristine. Pick up a Junior Ranger guide, explore the park, and earn stamps and prizes for completing activities along the way. Although this program is aimed at kids, it’s an activity the entire family will enjoy and remember for a lifetime.
Lewis and Clark’s search for an inland waterway to the Pacific Ocean brought their expedition right through the heart of Idaho. At the Lewis and Clark Discovery Center, visitors can watch a 32-minute video and view the center’s exhibits to learn more about the famous expedition. The center sits along the banks of the Snake River and includes a two-acre interpretive plaza, beautiful sculptures, and a gift shop.
Hells Gate State Park's year-round trail system is comprehensive and offers easy, moderate, and difficult trail conditions for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. One trail every hiker must check out while in the area is the Snake River Trail. This 6.2-mile, pet-friendly trail is the most popular in the park because of its breathtaking beauty and access to viewing wildlife in the area. Trailheads and park maps provide visitors with information such as trail length and trail difficulty. Bike rentals are not available on-site, but visitors can find rentals in nearby Lewiston.
Disc golfing is sweeping the nation as more and more people discover the fun. Hells Gate State Park has a nine-hole gravel and basket disc golf course, perfect for your family and friends to get out and have some fun outdoors. Bring your frisbees and experience disc golf by the riverside! The course, located next to the marina, runs through dry weeds and trees. Golfers should avoid the reeds along the river banks. Make sure to bring some water with you because you will get a workout!