Clarkston, Washington, sits at the junction of the Snake and Clearwater rivers and directly across from the larger Lewiston, Idaho. (We'd understand if you had no idea that a small ship could travel as far inland as the state of Idaho.) The twin cities were named after the two leaders of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition. Today, riverboats stop here to access majestic Hells Canyon.
What We Love
Parklands: The Nez Perce National Historical Park spans 38 sites stretched across four states — Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana. All expand on the history of the Nez Perce tribe as well as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Exhibits are indoors and out, including some battle sites.
Best Known For
Rapid Fire: The primary reason to stop at Clarkston is to access Hells Canyon, a spectacular natural site. Hop on a jet boat and ride over the fast-flowing Snake River rapids deep into the canyon, which at nearly 10,000 feet is the deepest in North America. The excursion starts gently in a wide valley then narrows between the canyon walls. Along the way, you'll spy bighorn sheep, eagles, heron, and ancient petroglyphs carved into the rock face.
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Who It's Best For
Natural-Born Adventurers: Those who like nature in its most dramatic will enjoy the sharp transition between the population centers left behind and the increasingly narrow canyon ahead. For long stretches no roads penetrate the canyon so the only way to gain access, apart from a few steep trails, is by high-speed outboard.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Bump Along: If you do a jet boat excursion in Hells Canyon, be aware that the ride upriver is herky-jerky thanks to the rapids, and noisy due to the outboard engines. The downriver return is more comfortable.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.