If you’ve made it here, then there’s a good chance that you’re considering taking Hells Canyon’s #1 Jet Boat Tour with Killgore Adventures (which we highly recommend). And if that’s the case, you’re in the right place! In this blog we’re going to cover some things that we feel like you should know before booking your trip plus a little bit of our own personal experience! But first, let’s talk a little about the star of the show… Hells Canyon!
Hells Canyon is North America's deepest river gorge at 7,993 feet. That’s nearly 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon, yet Hells Canyon is only 10 miles wide compared to the Grand Canyon’s 18 mile width. The river that carved the canyon (the same one you’ll be riding on) is the Snake River which brings life to Elk, Moose, North American River Otter, American Beaver, Coyote, Pronghorn, Deer, Coyote, Mountain Goat, and Marmots as well as 300 different species of birds in this region (including Osprey and Eagles) and 19 different species of fish (including the prehistoric Sturgeon).
*Be sure to check out our "One Day in Idaho" travel vlog for a closer look at our time in Hells Canyon!
Now… Let’s get to it!
1. This trip is for EVERYONE:
Literally… Everyone! Young, old, disabeled, handicapped… Kurt and his crew are accommodating of all! That’s one of the things we loved so much about this tour and Killgore Adventures… No one gets left out of the fun! If you do need special assistance, just call ahead of time and let them know your situation and they can almost always make accommodations.
2. Plan for an entire day:
The “Wild Water Jet Boat Tour” is a FULL DAY adventure! The tour takes around 6 hours from the time you leave the boat landing to the time you get back, and by the time you add in commute time to and from the boat landing, you’re looking at a 9-10 hour day or even longer depending on where you’re coming from. All of that said, just plan for this tour to be your only plans for the day… It’s worth it!
3. Yes, there are bathroom breaks:
If you’re like us, when you saw “6 hours” you were probably wondering how you’re going to do your… business. Well, thankfully the Killgore Adventures crew has already thought this whole thing through and have built in 4 bathroom breaks along the way! And if there’s an emergency bathroom break needed, Captain Kurt is a kind and understanding person and can pause the tour to let you slip off to the back of the boat and go… With an audience. Just kidding! Kind of.
4. Food and drinks are provided:
The next question after “Are there bathrooms?” is usually, “What about food?”... And once again the Killgore Adventures crew has you covered! A delicious, fresh (and local) made deli lunch (sandwich, macaroni salad, beef jerky, and cookie) and ice cold beverages are included with your tour and is served at the half-way point of the tour which is at the Hells Canyon Creek Visitor's Center.
5. Arrive early:
The Killgore Adventure headquarters/office where you’ll need to check-in for your tour is 22 miles from the departure point for the Wild River Tour (Pittsburg Landing) and will take 45-60 minutes to drive. It’s worth noting that a large portion of the drive is on a gravel road, so if you are uncomfortable with that or your rental car agreement doesn’t allow driving on gravel roads (most don’t) Killgore Adventures does offer a shuttle service for an additional $25.00 per person and reservations are recommended. Also, there are some beautiful scenic spots along the drive, so be sure to allow enough time to take advantage of the views! The Killgore Adventures staff recommend arriving for check-in no later than 1.5 hours before your tour starts, but if you want to take your time on the drive to the boat landing you should probably check-in closer to 2 hours before your tour.
6. Dress appropriately:
While this is a requirement we HIGHLY recommend wearing some sort of water shoes (sandals are fine, but no flip flops) and quick dry clothing. You can absolutely take the Wild River Tour and never get wet, BUT if you want to get the full experience, you’re going to want to get wet! Especially if you go during the heat of the summer! We also recommend wearing sunscreen. Even though the boats are covered, the sun can get pretty hot down in the canyon, so be smart and protect your skin.
7. Bring binoculars or a telephoto lens:
There’s a good chance that you will see wildlife on your tour, but it might not always be within close, eyesight range, so we recommend bringing a pair of binoculars or a telephoto lens if you’re a photographer. Unfortunately, we didn't see much wildlife other than a Bald Eagle from a distance on our tour, but it's not uncommon to see sheep, bald eagle, and bear on one tour!
8. Your valuables/electronics will be safe:
Speaking of telephoto lenses and cameras, there’s no need to worry if your expensive electronics/valuables will be safe. Each boat is equipped with an area to ensure the safety of those items. Also, Captain Kurt was great at letting us know when there was a possibility of getting wet so we could put away our non-waterproof gear. That said, it’s still a good idea to leave behind the unnecessary electronics (tablets, laptops, etc), but for those that are needed (cell phones, cameras, etc.) will be safe on this tour.
*BONUS… Get the Huckleberry Ice Cream!
After a long day on the river, there’s nothing better than an ice cold treat to cool you off, and the Killgore Adventures headquarters (where you checked in for your tour) is just the place to satisfy those needs! On top of having the largest beer cooler in the state and some awesome Killgore Adventures merch, they also have a nice selection of locally made ice creams! And while I’m sure all of the flavors are delicious, you’ve got to try the Huckleberry ice cream! It is SO good! Plus, Huckleberry is a local delicacy that we don’t get in the south (where we’re from), so it’s a nice treat! You won’t regret it!
We hope that these tips help you plan your visit and make the most of your experience in Hells Canyon! If you did find it helpful, we hope you’ll consider heading over to our YouTube Channel and subscribing for more travel content and/or following us on Instagram!
Disclosure: Killgore Adventures was kind enough to provide us with the Wild River Jet Boat Tour, but as always, all opinions are our own.