Visiting Hells Gate State Park in Idaho? Here's everything you need to know to make your visit a success, from hikes to camping options, and more!
Hells Gate State Park is incredibly gorgeous! It is isolated feeling, despite being only a few miles from Lewiston, and has opportunities for hiking, swimming, boating, camping, and much more! Nearby, you can also find the Lewis & Clark Discovery Center and the Jack O'Connor Hunting Heritage and Education Center.
Why Visit Hells Gate State Park?
Hells Gate State Park is definitely not the most popular or best-known state park in Idaho but, all the better for those of us who have taken the time to visit the park on the border of Washington. Who doesn't love a gorgeous park devoid of the crowds we often face nowadays?
Plus, Hells Gate has a whole lot to offer.
You might know it best for its sweeping basalt columns that tower over the river but you can also enjoy hiking gorgeous trails, boating, and relatively warm weather throughout the entire year (due to the low elevation in this area!). This makes it one of the better state parks in Idaho to visit when fall is coming to a close.
Where is Hells Gate State Park?
The state park is only a few miles from Lewiston, Idaho where you can go to find all the additional amenities you might need for your mini vacation.
Use the map below to navigate to Hells Gate State Park:
When you get to Hells Gate, you'll find that all the campsites are right along the river. Keep reading to find out more about camping at Hells Gate State Park.
About the Park
This unique state park in Idaho is a real one-of-a-kind experience. If you love water, views, and peaceful nights, this place is for you! You can also explore the Lewis & Clarke Discovery Center that's open from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. every day.
The park area was created by floods nearly 15,000 years ago. Today, you can see the stunning basalt columns that formed as a result of the Pomona flows 14 million years ago.
The park is on land that used to be the home of the Nez Perce, a Native American community. Little of the village remains to this day. There is a nearby education center, Nez Perce National Historic Park, where you can go to learn more.
When to Visit Hells Gate State Park
The best time to visit Hells Gate State Park is in the summer and fall. The park is pretty exposed so if you want to avoid spending extraneous time in the sun and heat, the fall might be best for you. But, with the water right there, it's hard to go wrong.
Lewiston is well-known as one of the warmest areas in Idaho and this holds true for Hells Gate State Park which is only just over 700' in elevation.
Snake River Adventures and RiverQuest Excursions
The nearby Snake River Adventures and RiverQuest Excursions offer guided jetboat rides down the river. These can be half-day or full-day outings. They also offer fishing charters.
3 Best Hikes in Hells Gate State Park
Hells Gate State Park plays host to a variety of really fantastic hikes. Hiking in Hells Gate never disappoints as the view seems to change no matter where you end up!
#1 Everest Trail, Laurel Vista, and Easy Street Loop Trail
This moderately hard trail takes you along snake river and then through the bulk of the state park.
You'll take several different trails along the way, meaning that if you want to make your loop shorter, you can! It'll take you around 2 hours to complete this specific loop but you could make it far longer or shorter.
#2 Warren, Devil's, and Charlie's Loop Trail
The hard Everest Trail, Laurel Vista, and Easy Street Loop Trail starts from the Tammy Creek Trailhead (as do several other trails). From there, it gains over 600 feet in elevation in only a few miles.
This Hells Gate trail provides beautiful views of Hells Gate State Park. You'll climb above the park, and high above the river to see the sweeping shoreline of the Snake River.
#3 Snake River Trail
This is another interesting trail that takes you along Snake River for about 1.5 miles. It loops up towards the towering basalt columns.
Over the course of around 6 miles on this Hells Gate State Park trail, you'll gain 800 feet in elevation. Luckily, some of the 6 miles are entirely flat beside the river.
Camping in Hells Gate State Park
There are a variety of campsites near Hells Gate State Park, many of which are right on the Snake River. It's a calm and peaceful place that's often a much-needed escape from the busier state parks in Idaho.
Hells Gate State Park Campground
The main campground is located on the banks of the Snake River. The campground is open year-round. It's south of the boat dock and cabins and is divided into three different named sections:
Aspen and Birch Loops
The Aspen and Birch loop campgrounds are entirely RV camping. Every one of the campgrounds offers full hookups. The check-in time is 2:00 for all of these sites and the checkout time is 1:00. You can have up to 8 people were site.
Sites #50 through #62 are on the river side of the Birch Loop and sites #2 through #13 are on the river side of the Aspen Loop.
If you're a tent camper, the Cottonwood Loop is for you. There are 28 sites around the loop, all of which are for tent camping. There is a central bathroom and a larger parking area at the entrance. If you want to camp next to the river, we recommend sites #78-92
Reservations for Hells Gate State Park Camping
You will need to make a reservation to camp at Hells Gate State Park. You can do so through the Parks and Recreation Idaho website.
Hells Gate State Park Cabins
Another option, if you're looking for something a bit cozier, is to reserve a cabin at Hells Gate State Park.
Nez Perce National Historic Park
If you're visiting Hells Gate, you should also stop to see Nez Perce National Historic Park. It takes you back in time through a huge collection of amazing artifacts of the Nez Perce people. It includes a total of 38 places that are important to the history of the Nez Perce people.