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Old 02-12-2015   #1
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Kilroy's Avatar
Southern, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 80
Hells Canyon take-outs & stuff

First trip down Hells Canyon will be this summer, so I'm beginning to do a little planning. Was hoping to have a few questions answered that I can't find after some fairly robust searching...

1) Driving from So. Oregon so we want more time on the water than 2.5 days (Pittsburgh) but I understand the road to Dug bar blows... Any other options between Dug and Heller that won't beat the tar out of our vehicles like I hear that trek will? I'm guessing that's why they get $250 for shuttles down there, long journey...

2) I'm seeing "Hoots" on the shuttle page, where's that located on the river?

3) Any snowpack up in those parts yet? I suppose the watershed for the Snake is huge so it won't be a factor. Why I ask is that we're looking pretty grim down here, so the Owyhee trip this year is likely shot...

Thanks for any help,


"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment." ~ Will Rogers
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Old 02-13-2015   #2
dirtbagkayaker's Avatar
Bazzaro, World
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,326
The road to dugs bar is a long trip. Why not just float it out to Hellers bar? That will give you an extra day or two if you go slow. Good fishing too!

Hoots is at the bottom of whitebird grade on HWY 95 near the Hammer creek put in for the Lower Salmon.

The Snake Hells canyon run is always run able and flow is controlled by the damn. Well maybe on always. High water could change things up.

Bound is boatless man
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Old 02-13-2015   #3
90Duck's Avatar
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1992
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Originally Posted by Kilroy View Post
we want more time on the water than 2.5 days (Pittsburgh)
Try a layover day?

I've done the run down to Pittsburgh several times and taken 4 nights each time for the same reason. It's just too much driving for everyone for that short of a trip. We did the run on out to Heller Bar last time and took 5 nights. It was a June trip with pretty high water (50k below the Salmon, which was high enough no one was running it). The scenery was good, the water mellow, and hardly anybody down there. While it moves along in the "Snake Lake" section just fine at 50k, I would seriously consider taking a motor below Pittsburgh. Any sort of wind and you'd be screwed.
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Old 02-13-2015   #4
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salmon, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2004
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Posts: 639
just add on a lower salmon to your trip.. the put in for it is about 20 miles over the hill from the take out for hells.. you have to drive right by it on your way out.. it would add another 4 or five days to your trip.. we use scotty's as our shuttle for hells but if I remember right you would have to use all rivers or someone else for the main.. it ends up being two shuttles.. but would make it a longer trip with more quality miles..
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Old 02-13-2015   #5
lll100's Avatar
spokane, Washington
Paddling Since: 1984
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Its either Pittsburg or Hellar Bar for takeouts. Short or Long Trip, your choice. If you have not floated it before, go all the way to Hellar. We often head over the hill and putin on Lower Salmon at Hammer Creek after Pittsburg takeout, 17 miles and your on water again.

We have used Hells Canyon Shuttles in Oxbow, OR. Not cheap but dependable. Great solid clear ice available here.

Lots of reservoirs upstream holding plenty of water. Water levels vary by power demand. Can wake up at 8,000 cfs and have 25,000 cfs in afternoon.
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Old 02-22-2015   #6
La Grande, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 77
Just be aware that river levels fluctuate greatly depending on electrical generation at Hells Canyon Dam. I have seen it go up or down 4 ft. Also last 20 miles can get very windy in afternoon. Not a lot of current in spots.

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Old 02-22-2015   #7
Meridian, Idaho
Join Date: Apr 2014
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Below Pittsburgh is the dreaded snake lake. Get up early to dodge the afternoon winds or get ready to row your butt off.
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Old 02-22-2015   #8
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Southern, Oregon
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 80
Thank you all for your input. Lots of decisions to make. I checked all of my gear and I can deflate and break down all of my stuff into the back of the pickup. I may just make the drive out of Dug Bar to add one more night, and possibly one layover. I think that will give us the best bang for the buck.

I'm glad you all provided positive input, thanks again. You never know what you're going to get on this forum nowadays, lots of trash...
"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment." ~ Will Rogers
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Old 02-22-2015   #9
malloypc's Avatar
Albany, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 256
Go to Heller

Chances are Hells Canyon Shuttle will refuse to do Dug Bar (they refused me on my first trip) due to the road being "worse than imaginable".
Taking out there will also cause you to miss two magnificent confluences - Imnaha and Salmon and there's magic in those places.
Spend as many days as you can spare above Pittsburgh (including any layovers) saving three night for the lower stretch.
My camp preferences down there are Tryon, Zig Zag or China Bar, then Sentinel Rock / Lower Jim Creek if fighting the wind, further down if calm.
Get an early start on the last day and you can be de-rigging by noon.
It's a great trip!
- Jerry
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Old 06-13-2015   #10
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Southern, Oregon
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After much discussion/thought, we are going all the way to heller. Just makes sense. The elk scout will just have to be another trip... great info from experienced folks on here. Thanks

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"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment." ~ Will Rogers
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