At 1,078 miles long, the Snake River is the longest tributary of the Columbia River and the largest North American river to empty into the Pacific Ocean. Here are some other facts about this geographical wonder that’s the pride of the Pacific Northwest’s waterways.
1. Lewis and Clark were the first American explorers to sail down the Snake
Between 1804 and 1806, Lewis and Clark traversed the Rocky Mountains and sailed down the Snake River to the Columbia River, which led them to the Pacific. Because Lewis is credited with seeing the Snake River’s drainage basin before any other American, the river is often called “Lewis Fork.”
2. Big fish stories
Fishing explorations are popular along the Snake River. From catching rainbow trout and smallmouth bass at Hells Canyon to fly-fishing in the Grand Tetons, you can’t go wrong. Choose from guided fishing trips or solo excursions throughout the year. In autumn, steelheads swim back from the Pacific, but the prize “big fish” on the Snake River is sturgeon, which can be up to 10 feet long.
3. River’s end at the Washington Tri-Cities area
The Snake River rises in western Wyoming and begins to flow through the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho. It then swirls around the rugged landscape of Hells Canyon in northeastern Oregon and through the Palouse hills. Ending up at the Washington Tri-Cities area, it enters the larger Columbia River, which then empties into the Pacific.
4. Gorge-ous ravine
The lower Snake River flows through the largest North American gorge about one mile deep at Hells Canyon, or Snake River Canyon. Formed by the mighty Snake River, this canyon creates a boundary between Twin Falls and Jerome counties.
Numerous dams and reservoirs regulate the Snake River’s main stream. After the Teton Dam collapse in 1976 there was major flooding in the upper Snake River Valley. Many streams sink into the Snake River Plain on the northern side to become part of a massive underground reservoir. The middle of the river, in Idaho, is used for hydroelectric power.
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