The Jet Boat Mail Route in Hells Canyon

March 6, 2024

©David Frame Photography

One of the most remote mail boat routes in the lower 48 is in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, 652,488 acres of history, adventure and natural beauty! Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest river gorge, is home to a variety of wildlife, including big horn sheep, elk, and black bear. Additionally, a dozen or so ranches and year round residents call this rugged canyon home. These remote ranches are reachable only by boat and often, their weekly mail delivery is the only other human human contact. These, and previous residents, have received their mail once a week, come hell or high water, since 1919.

Beamers' co-owner, Jill Koch, delivers the mail to a rancher
©David Frame Photography

Beamers Hells Canyon Tours has held the US Mail delivery contract for the past 50 years, making it the oldest commercial powerboat business on the Snake River. It also has the unique distinction of being able to offer the US Mail delivery as a guided tour for visitors to experience this historic route. On this "5-Rivers Tour," you'll experience the Snake, Grande Ronde, Imnaha, and Salmon Rivers bordering Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.

As your experienced captain navigates the jet boat through rapids, tales of the Chinese immigrant miners, ranchers, and Native people are told. Rock carvings, known as petroglyphs, can be seen throughout the canyon, evidence of Nimiipuu ancestors who have called this area home since time immemorial. You'll greet ranchers who often arrive on horseback to await their mail delivery. You might make a stop to cast your line and reel in a prize steelhead during the winter season.

©David Frame Photography

A stop at Kirkwood Historic Ranch showcases canyon life from the 1930s and features prehistoric artifacts and early Native American occupation.

Beamers Hells Canyon Tours offers additional guided tours focusing exclusively on the scenic beauty, wildlife, history, and culture in the canyon.

Special tours throughout the summer season pair local award-winning wine with the natural beauty of the canyon at Beamers' riverfront rustic lodge. The wines from the valley have a history going back to 1872 taking first prize over California in three world’s fairs. 

Book your Hells Canyon adventure and experience the grandeur of this historic canyon.


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