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Viewing Hells Canyon from the Idaho side?

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#1 OFFLINE   Rick Johnson

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 06:39 PM

I'm asking this in several places.

 

Looking to spend nearly 3 weeks in Idaho prior to the total eclipse. I have some good ideas so far and trying to plan mostly mountain camping. 

 

However... Hells Canyon seems like a must see gorge since it is deeper than the Grand Canyon. As I check out the Nez Perce forest map, one of the possibilities is to take FR 517 to Seven Devils Campground. Here are the issues or questions I have:

 

From the web site for the campground: "Forest Road 517 is very steep and narrow. Low clearance vehicles, RVs, and vehicles pulling trailers are not recommended OR advised to use caution when traveling the upper sections of this road".

 

I have a high clearance F350 that performs quite well as long as the road is not strewn with boulders, etc. Anyone have experience with getting a heavy TC in there?

 

Also, and this is even more discouraging: 10 tent-only campsites. Really????

 

If I can get my rig in there, why can't I camp in my TC there? If there is parking at a campsite, I'm usually good. Google satellite view looks very reasonable for a TC.

 

Do you think if I asked at the Riggins Hells Canyon Nat'l Rec Area office, they would be of any help?

 

Many Thanks in advance for your advice.

 

Rick


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#2 OFFLINE   the tc life

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:25 AM

Curious of the responses that you get. There is very little access really from the Oregon or Idaho side to the canyons edge. A few spots that are boat in but my TC doesnt float very well, or at least I dont think it would.


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#3 OFFLINE   karenhuntz

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 05:25 PM

I lurk here, while I dream of owning a truck and camper. I've been to 7 devils, and on the road you describe. Its a pretty typical NW BLM road. It's on my list of places I want to go when I have a rig, and why I won't get a van or low clearance vehicle.  They keep it well graded, you will have no problems with your rig as long as you don't have issues with heights.(referring to cliffs) and good brakes/gears for the downhill run.  I'm guessing its described as tent sites because it is not developed, no electric available, vaults only. So as long as you can boondock, you will be fine. I would recommend going to the end of the road, where you have a million dollar view of the canyon. (the turn around is flat, hint hint). While the canyon is deeper than Grand Canyon at this point, you won't be able to directly look down, you have to backpack/long steep day hike to get to the fire lookout with the loooong drop to the river. People in Riggins will definitely know about your needs, whether they will help is another matter. (had a bad experience backpacking the first week of hunting season in the 7 devils. ) I will be in total blackout for the eclipse (salem, or) but still wondering where to watch since we will be inundated from people around the world. Other places to check out in that neighborhood include Troy, OR (Wenaha) and Owyhee canyons. Hat Point in Oregon also has a beautiful view of Hells Canyon, with a similar steep dirt road. Wallowa Lake with the surrounding mountains is called Little Switzerland for a reason, but its hard to find a site there on a normal August, never mind this year.  Have fun, just remember you can't pump your gas here in OR (but you won't pay sales tax, either)

Karen



#4 OFFLINE   Rick Johnson

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 07:53 PM

I lurk here, while I dream of owning a truck and camper. I've been to 7 devils, and on the road you describe. Its a pretty typical NW BLM road. It's on my list of places I want to go when I have a rig, and why I won't get a van or low clearance vehicle.  They keep it well graded, you will have no problems with your rig as long as you don't have issues with heights.(referring to cliffs) and good brakes/gears for the downhill run.  I'm guessing its described as tent sites because it is not developed, no electric available, vaults only. So as long as you can boondock, you will be fine. I would recommend going to the end of the road, where you have a million dollar view of the canyon. (the turn around is flat, hint hint). While the canyon is deeper than Grand Canyon at this point, you won't be able to directly look down, you have to backpack/long steep day hike to get to the fire lookout with the loooong drop to the river. People in Riggins will definitely know about your needs, whether they will help is another matter. (had a bad experience backpacking the first week of hunting season in the 7 devils. ) I will be in total blackout for the eclipse (salem, or) but still wondering where to watch since we will be inundated from people around the world. Other places to check out in that neighborhood include Troy, OR (Wenaha) and Owyhee canyons. Hat Point in Oregon also has a beautiful view of Hells Canyon, with a similar steep dirt road. Wallowa Lake with the surrounding mountains is called Little Switzerland for a reason, but its hard to find a site there on a normal August, never mind this year.  Have fun, just remember you can't pump your gas here in OR (but you won't pay sales tax, either)

Karen

Thanks Karen. I was hoping someone like yourself would have the "on the ground" experience. I have become aware that the view all the way down to the river is difficult to get to.

 

I have been to western Oregon, Crater Lake, Portland, etc., so I know about the diesel pumping protocol. I'll have to decide later about your Oregon recommendations vs. stuff to see in Idaho.

 

Again, Thanks.

 

Rick


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#5 OFFLINE   Mr Firewood

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 02:49 PM

You are permitted to pump your own diesel fuel in OR.  I was surprised my last visit a hadful of weeks ago from WA to SW OR that when I got fuel there was no pump jockey at the diesel pumps or if there was they gave me the option of pumping myself since I was a diesel rig.  


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#6 OFFLINE   Rick Johnson

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 01:30 PM

UPDATE:

 

Driving there is not a big issue for the most part. I got a nice reply from Karen to one of my posts and I read about the road in a book "Backcountry Roads Idaho" by Lynna Howard. 

 

As far as the tent only aspect of Seven Devils campground, the Riggins office said that the nearby Windy Saddle campground can be used for trailers and TCs.People drive trailers in there all the time especially horse trailers. Windy Saddle is designed to support horses. Now I'm concerned about flies, etc. there.

 

Tent only camping is enforced in the Seven Devils. Didn't say why, just that is the way it is.

 

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#7 OFFLINE   karenhuntz

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 04:23 PM

Don't worry about flies. There's a reason its called windy saddle. I think it would be a popular glider launch spot if it was easier to get to. There might still be the bones of a RV that went up the road, that couldn't make it back down. The rangers are tired of rescuing people up there. If it isn't already on your list, check out Steen's Mountain in SE Oregon. Rough road to the top, but O, the view!

Karen


Edited by karenhuntz, 08 July 2017 - 04:24 PM.


#8 OFFLINE   DakotaCamper

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 04:26 PM

Rick - I am based in the Lewiston/Clarkston Valley for work and will check with my co-workers on Monday about other possibilities for camping. I know several of them know the area very well also. I will be in the LC Valley in our fifth wheel during the eclipse. Should be interesting. 

 

FYI - take a jet boat ride down the Snake River to Hells Canyon Dam while you are there!


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