H is for...Hell's Canyon
Tuesday brings us to the letter H in our month-long challenge. Today I'm taking everyone to the very eastern border of Oregon to explore...
Sounds frightening, right? It can be! Located along the border of Oregon and Idaho, Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. The deepest river gorge in North America, Hell's Canyon is 7,993 feet deep (deeper than the Grand Canyon) and was carved out by the Snake River. Most of the area can not be accessed by road and there are no roads that cross the canyon itself. The earliest settlers in the area were the Nez Perce Indian tribe; many of their pictographs can be seen on the canyon walls. Other tribes would come to the area, but none were as settled as the Nez Perce. Eventually other expeditions would discover Hell's Canyon. In 1806, members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition came upon the canyon, but they left before seeing the whole thing. In 1811, the Wilson Price Hunt Expedition entered the canyon, but they were forced to turn back because of the cold weather and hunger. When gold was discovered in the 1860s, miners came in droves. However, this was not a profitable region and they soon left. Farmers came next, but the conditions were not conducive to raising cattle and the land did not provide enough sustenance. Soon the federal government decided to harness the power of the Snake River, building three dams (Brownlee Dam, Oxbow Dam, and Hell's Canyon Dam). These three dams provide 70% of Idaho's hydroelectricity.
There are many activities that you can do in the recreational area ranging from viewpoints, hiking, biking, camping, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding. If you're looking to be a little adventurous, try some of the water excursions on the Snake River. You can water-ski, tube, or wake-board. There are also ample opportunities to go kayaking, canoeing, and white water rafting. In the winter, there are opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and other winter activities.
*On a side note, another H thing to do in Oregon is the High Desert Museum between Sunriver and Bend. It is a living museum that shows native animals in their natural habitat, as well as Native American and Pioneer artifacts and replicas of Indian villages and Early Settler towns. It's a really interesting place to visit because of the exhibits and the walking path around the outdoor areas.