Natural Wonders: Hells Canyon, OR/ID

Hike into North America's deepest river gorge--a canyon that could hold five stacked Sears Towers.

The Wonder From 9,393-foot He Devil Peak on its east rim, Hells Canyon on the Oregon/Idaho border plunges 8,043 feet to the Snake River. About 6 million years ago, the area uplifted and the Snake began its long descent, revealing igneous rocks on the lower canyon walls that date back 300 million years. Melting glaciers, plus a spillover from nearby Lake Bonneville about 16,000 years ago, fed the Snake and helped accelerate the canyon’s ongoing deepening.

The Way From 6,982-foot Hat Point Lookout, the highest point on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, pick up Hat Point Trail for a four-mile out-and-back. Switchback down nearly 1,500 vertical feet, looking east for top-to-bottom views of the gorge and He Devil Peak, 10 miles away. At mile two, enjoy a 180-degree view of the Snake, 4,000 feet below. Climb back the way you came.