Sometimes called the “Niagara of the West,” Shoshone Falls is 65 meters (212 feet) high — 14 m (45 feet) higher than Niagara Falls — and flows over a rim nearly 300 m (1,000 feet) wide. The Snake River has over 20 major tributaries, most of which are in the mountainous regions of the basin. From its headwaters to the beginning of Hells Canyon, many small dams block the Snake to provide irrigation water. Exploring the Snake River. The state will recharge 250,000 acre feet a year. In Hells Canyon, a cascade of dams produce hydroelectricity from the river’s lofty decrease in elevation over a comparatively small distance. The river has hundreds of miles of publicly accessible waters and numerous access points, which means nearly anyone can find a hunting spot there and have a chance to shoot some birds. The Snake River Got It’s Name From a Misinterpretation. In the 1950's, the name \"Hells Canyon\" was borrowed from Hells Canyon Creek, which enters the rive… The Snake River is the largest tributary of the Columbia River. Many factors have influenced the construction of dams along the Snake River. The Salmon River, its largest tributary, joins the Snake near the downstream end of the canyon section. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The Snake River begins in Wyoming, where it starts out as a small river … The Columbia River drops 820 meters (2,690 feet) from source to mouth, while the Snake drops over 2,600 meters (8,500 feet) in elevation over a length more than 320 km (200 miles) shorter. While some sections of the river are 10 to 15 feet deep, others can have depths of 100 feet or more. The Snake River’s water quality, and the health of fish, animals, and people that rely on the Snake as a water supply, is also degraded by industrial and municipal pollution, toxic waste dumps, and pesticide and fertilizer runoff. The main stream is regulated by several dams and reservoirs, the most expansive being American Fall Dam and Reservoir. The Snake River Plain is a prominent depression across southern Idaho extending 640 kilometers (400 miles) in an east-west direction. Snake River Rafting. About 274 bird species, some endangered or threatened, use the Snake River watershed, including bald eagle, peregrine falcon, whooping crane, greater sage-grouse, and yellow-billed cuckoo. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Kendrick Moholt A view down on the Snake River from the hike up to Hat Point in Oregon, 1968. Its drainage basin is the 10th largest among North American rivers, and covers almost 280,000 square kilometers (108,000 square miles) in portions of six U.S. states: Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, with the largest portion in Idaho. The Columbia River drops 820 meters (2,690 feet) from source to mouth, while the Snake drops over 2,600 meters (8,500 feet) in elevation over a length more than 320 km (200 miles) shorter. Burley enjoys one of the most beautiful stretches of the river. This gorge reaches up to 7,900 ft deep at certain points. These fish were central to the lives of the people along the Snake below Shoshone Falls. Finally, a third cascade of dams, from Hells Canyon to the mouth, facilitates navigation. Turning north, it forms the boundary between Idaho and Oregon for 216 miles (348 km). The range extends northwest to Victor Idaho, west to Swan Valley Idaho and south to Alpine Wyoming. From the northeastern corner of Oregon it forms the Washington-Idaho boundary to Lewiston, Idaho, and then turns west to join the Columbia just south of Pasco, Washington, after a course of 1,040 miles (1,670 km). Across millennia, its waters have carved deep canyons in the desert basalt, plunging over waterfalls of … By the middle 19th century, the Oregon Trail, a pioneer trail of which a major portion followed the Snake River, had been established by aspiring settlers and traders. After the first irrigation dams on the river began operation in the first decade of the 20th century, most arable land bordering the Snake River was cultivated or turned to pasture, and agricultural return flows began to pollute the Snake. The Snake River is 16 feet 4 inches deep. Figure 1. The Snake River is the nation's fourth largest river; 42 miles of it are in Yellowstone National Park. But the Snake River is much more than a working river. They then head out to sea, and after several years return to their natal rivers to spawn, an inland journey of more than 900 miles. The upper Snake River, above King Hill, Idaho, is used for irrigation and hydropower. Swinging northwest near the mouth of Greys River, it enters Idaho through the Palisades Reservoir. More than 11,000 years ago, prehistoric Native Americans lived along the Snake. Still, from the 1860s to the 1940s, steamboats traveled on the Snake River. Background. That will stop the decline of the aquifer. Category : Clearwater River Fishing Reports, Lewiston Fishing Guides, Salmon Fishing, Snake River Salmon Fishing We have been home from the Oregon coast now for about 10 days and in that time we have spent some great days fishing for Fall Chinook on the Clearwater and Snake Rivers out of … The Snake River was once one of the most important rivers for the spawning of anadromous fish — which are hatched in the headwaters of rivers, live in the ocean for most of their lives, and return to the river to spawn — in the United States. A Non-exhaustive Key to Major Dams in the Columbia River System. In the agreement, groundwater users on the Snake River Plain collectively agreed to reduce their groundwater use by 240,000 acre feet a year. Boulders and rock slides have rolled into the river to create the biggest white water rafting rapids in the Pacific Northwest. It’s aquifer, the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer, provides drinking water for 300,000 Idahoans. It reaches a maximum depth of 2,436 meters (7,993 feet), making it the deepest gorge on the North American continent. But it will take time. Over 11,000 years ago, the Snake was a vital source of life for the Native Americans, specifically the Shoshones, that were living along the banks of the river. The Snake River and Teton Range, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. All reviews snake river green belt nice walk japanese garden walking path both sides farmers market great place to walk evening stroll west side early evening across the street beautiful area in town benches geese falls bike jog walkers broadway downtown. Other northern side streams sink into the Snake River Plain and become part of an immense underground reservoir. Shoshone Falls is a waterfall on the Snake River in southern Idaho, approximately 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) northeast of the city of Twin Falls. And the Snake River and the deep basaltic canyon it carves provide a wealth of outdoor adventures, inspiring vistas, and opportunities for family fun. The high plateau was formed in the flood basalt epoch. Twin Falls and Shoshone Falls, with drops of 65 and 212 feet (20 and 65 metres) respectively, are located near Twin Falls city, downstream from Milner Dam. Ahead is Snake River Falls as the river finally finds a way to cut through the caprock for good on its own journey to the Niobrara. On the western edge of the state, it is joined by the Boise River. Canadian explorer David Thompson first recorded the Native American name of the Snake River as Shawpatin when he arrived at its mouth by boat in 1800. Snake River Canyon is a canyon formed by the Snake River in the Magic Valley region of southern Idaho, forming part of the boundary between Twin Falls County to the south and Jerome County to the north. The middle Snake River, from King Hill to Weiser, Idaho, is used primarily for hydroelectric generation. From a lazy swim to water sport to world class boat races you can enjoy it all at the Snake River in Burley. The canyon has a total length of 201 kilometers (125 miles), along 64 kilometers (40 miles) of which it is more than 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) deep. The Snake River is known for having the deepest gorge in the United States, Hell’s Canyon. It rises in the mountains of the Continental Divide near the southeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming and flows through the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho, then through the rugged Hells Canyon area via northeastern Oregon and the rolling Palouse Hills, to reach its mouth near the Washington Tri-Cities area, where it enters the Columbia River. Runoff from the states of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington combines in the Snake, which has a drainage basin of some 109,000 square miles (282,000 square km). Salmon from the Pacific Ocean spawned by the millions in the river. With access to countless holes, streams and the famous Snake River, of course, Jackson Hole is a classic anglers paradise. The Snake River likely got its name from the first European explorers who misinterpreted the sign made by the Shoshone people who identified themselves in sign language by moving the hand in a swimming motion which appeared to these explorers to be a \"snake.\" It actually signified that they lived near the river with many fish. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/place/Snake-River, National Park Service - Yellowstone - Snake River, United States, Northwest Power and Conservation Council - Snake River, National Wild and Scenic Rivers System - Snake River, Idaho, Oregon, Snake River - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer. Principal tributaries below Heise are Henrys Fork (the largest), Blackfoot, Portneuf, Raft, and Big Wood rivers. The Snake River’s average flow is 1,553 cubic meters (54,830 cubic feet) per second. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The gauges have been interpreted for paddling on a scale ranging from "scrapable" (so low that paddlers may have to get out of their watercraft to avoid rocks); to "very high" (where paddling is considered dangerous and not recommended). Real-time river level gauges for Minnesota's state water trails. Corrections? Agricultural runoff from farms and ranches in the Snake River Plain and many other areas has crippled the ecology of the river. Discovering Blue Heart Springs The Snake River likely got its name from the first European explorers who misinterpreted the sign made by the Shoshone people who identified themselves in sign language by moving the hand in a swimming motion which appeared to these explorers to be a “snake.” It actually signified that they lived near the river with many fish. Omissions? Dams on the Snake can be grouped into three major categories. Henrys Fork and Big Wood enter the Snake River from the north. The Snake River is the eastern boundary back up to the Tetons. Map showing the location of the Snake River Plain. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Take a deep dive into Snake River dams! The river then flows along the Oregon-Idaho border before entering the state of Washington and finally pouring its water into the Columbia River at the Tri-Cities. The Snake River Plain was created by a volcanic hotspot which now lies underneath Yellowstone National Park, where the headwaters of the Snake River arise. Snake River salmon and steelhead begin their life’s journey high in the mountains of central Idaho, northeast Oregon, and southeast Washington. When the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed westwards into the Snake River watershed in 1805, they first gave it the name Lewis River, Lewis Fork or Lewis's Fork, as Meriwether Lewis was the first of their group to sight the river. Three federal agencies in charge of managing the operation of dams and protecting salmon from their impacts in the Columbia River Basin have completed a new review of these actions. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). 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