It's a canyon so daunting it caused Lewis and Clark to take a detour.
Today, Hells Canyon retains that wild, rugged character.
This is a land of superlatives: The deepest canyon in North America, deeper even than the Grand Canyon. One of the most biologically diverse places in the West. One of the wildest places in the country.
Thousands of plants can be found here, including some found nowhere else. A grassland ecosystem over much of its length, Hells Canyon includes bunch grasses swaying in the breeze and amazing wildflower displays in the spring.
A great variety of large mammals roam the canyon, including bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, mountain lion and black bear. There are many interesting birds, including bald and golden eagles, ruffed grouse, hummingbirds and many raptor species. Recently, mountain quail were reintroduced to this area. Nest boxes have attracted many mountain bluebirds.
The Nature Conservancy in Hells Canyon
Recognizing the tremendous value of Hells Canyon to people and wildlife, The Nature Conservancy began acquiring property in this area in 1987. The Nature Conservancy of Idaho acquired more than 13,000 acres of land so that future generations could continue to enjoy the scenic vistas, clean water, abundant wildlife and world-class outdoor recreation opportunities.
In 1995, The Nature Conservancy transferred nearly 12,000 acres to the Bureau of Land Management. Today, The Nature Conservancy of Idaho continues to own and manage the 1500-acre Garden Creek Preserve. All of these lands are open to the public.
The Nature Conservancy finds practical, collaborative ways of achieving conservation. We work with many partners in Hells Canyon, including the Bureau of Land Management, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, businesses and private landowners.
The Nature Conservancy will continue to work with partners to best protect special places like Hells Canyon.
The major threat facing the canyon and surrounding areas is the infestation of non-native weeds. The Conservancy is employing the latest technology to prevent new weed infestations and to control existing weeds. Learn more about the Hells Canyon Weed Project.