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Hells Canyon Mailboat Trip

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

Weekly mail delivery to residents in Hells Canyon.

For over 100 years mail has been delivered to residents in Hells Canyon by Beamers Hells Canyon Tours, who holds the contract for this U.S. Mail run. You can ride along with the Beamers' captain as he navigates a jet boat of passengers, letters, bills, packages and grocery flyers every Wednesday, May through September. To book your reservation visit Full Day Tour With Historic US Mail Delivery Along The Way! | Beamers Hells Canyon Tours. Other jet boat adventures are also available from Beamers Hells Canyon Tours professional tour guides, who have been on the Snake River in Hells Canyon since 1974.

We enjoyed the spectacular scenery along this remote and wild river, as we stopped along the way for delivery to mailboxes along the river's edge, separated by miles of river, and often found at the end of a rough trail that started up in the hills and ended at the mailbox by the river. At some of the mail stops, the mail carrier puts on "snake boots" before getting off the boat and climbing over rocks and brush that just may be hiding a rattlesnake.

Kirkwood Ranch

One of the historic stops on the mail run includes Kirkwood Ranch, a museum highlighting the life of the Jordan family, occupants of the ranch during the Depression. Len Jordan went on to become a governor of Idaho and then a U.S. Senator.

Chinese Massacre at Deep Creek

Another historical site along the Oregon side of the Snake River near Dug Bar in Hells Canyon is where a gang of horse thieves ambushed and killed Chinese miners and stole their gold in late May 1887. The massacre was one of the most brutal acts of anti-Chinese violence in the American West. The gold dust was given to one member of the gang, but he double-crossed the gang and ran off with the gold. The gold was stashed along the river and as far as anyone know, it was never found again. A memorial now marks where the miners died. To learn more, visit Chinese Massacre at Deep Creek.

LATITUDE/LONGITUDE OF START OF TRIP: 46.42626615041783, -117.0458219763446

STARTING POINT: Clarkston, Washington

This trip starts in Clarkston, Washington and is an easy drive from several Pacific Northwest locations, while some may require an overnight stay the night before the trip since the boat leaves at 8:00am.

  • From Pullman, Washington: 45 minutes

  • From Moscow, Idaho: 48 minutes

  • From Walla Walla, Washington: 1 hour 52 minutes

  • From Spokane, Washington: 2 hours

  • From La Grande, Oregon: 3 hours

  • From Boise, Idaho: 5 hours 26 minutes (our starting point)

WHEN ACCESSIBLE: May through September, Wednesdays only.

WHEN WE WENT: September

PET FRIENDLY: Pets not allowed on the boat.

TRAILHEADS: Although there are trailheads along the route, the stops are brief and the captain advises that if he drops you off, he will only pick you up again on the return trip if you find some of the gold that has been stashed along the river.

ADVICE: Bring a camera and binoculars!

Mailboxes along the river

I'm Here - Now What?

  • Photography

  • Wildlife and plant viewing

  • Boating

  • Picnicking (lunch provided by Beamers)

  • Hiking

  • Geocaching - although geocaches are in the area, the stops are brief

Bighorn sheep running to meet the mailboat

The journey up and back along the river


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