A huge lake once covered the area now bisected by the Oregon-Idaho state line. The rocky bulge of the Owyhee Mountains kept the Snake and Columbia rivers separate until giving way roughly a million years ago. Then the Snake rapidly cut its way through as much as ten miles of igneous rock to join with the Columbia, chiseling out the chasm now known as the Hells Canyon of the Snake River. Today, Hells Canyon is one of the continent's most dramatic landscapes.
The adjacent mountain ridges rise an average of more than a mile above the canyon floor, towering over the whitewater below. The pinnacle of He Devil Mountain is almost 8,000 feet higher than the river, making for the deepest gorge in the United States.
The oldest rocks in the canyon originated from underwater volcanoes when Hells Canyon was part of a Pacific island chain. Rivers eroded some of the lava, carrying it downstream, and the Seven Devils and Eagle Cap Mountains were pushed skyward. The result is the spectacular Hells Canyon.
Hells Canyon of the Snake River Information
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