Ecosystems

Hells Canyon-Wallowa & Blue Mountain Ecosystems:
Facts and Photos

  • northwestern_us_region (1)

    The Hells Canyon-Wallowa ecosystem has been referred to as the "linchpin ecosystem," bridging the Rockies with the Blue Mountains and Cascades. It serves a primary wildlife and plant connectivity corridor between these ecosystems. Map: Conservation Georgraphy

  • hells canyon

    Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon in North America. It's deeper than the Grand Canyon and some say it is the deepest known river gorge on earth. From the mountain peaks to the Snake River is a drop of 7,993 feet and the canyon is 10 miles across in places.

  • HCNRA_canyon_and_sky

    Hells Canyon National Recreation Area covers over 652 thousand acres in Oregon and Idaho. About one third of this (214 thousand acres) is designated as Wilderness.

  • leon_werdinger_wallowas_mtn_spring

    The Wallowa Mountains rise above the west side of Hells Canyon. The Eagle Cap Wilderness Area is within the Wallowas, and at 361,000 acres it is Oregon's largest wilderness. Snow capped peaks, alpine terrain, glaciated valleys, mountain lakes, coniferous forests, grassy slopes, and pristine creeks and rivers are all found here. Photo: Leon Werdinger

  • Wenaha River

    The Blue Mountains are the oldest geological formation in Oregon

  • Wilderness is protected by the Wilderness act of 1964. Wilderness provides for a pristine environment where natural functions and processes are free to define our future. NE Oregon has over 500,000 acres of designated Wilderness and the potential for more.

    Wilderness is protected by the Wilderness act of 1964. Wilderness provides for a pristine environment where natural functions and processes are free to define our future. NE Oregon has over 500,000 acres of designated Wilderness and the potential for more.

  • The history of the region is rich and varied. Traces to the past include ancient Native American rock art, old buildings from remote homesteads, and remnants of the gold-rush days.

    The history of the region is rich and varied. Traces to the past include ancient Native American rock art, old buildings from remote homesteads, and remnants of the gold-rush days.

  • Butterfly & Aster

    This beautiful butterfly is nectaring on an aster high in the Wallowa Mountains. Photo- D. Trochlell

  • MacFarlane's four-o'clock (Mirabilis macfarlanei) is found only on the grassy slopes of Hells Canyon of the Snake River and the Imnaha River canyon in northeast Oregon, and the Salmon River canyon of Idaho. It is threatened by invasive weeds and grazing. Photo - R. Holmes

    MacFarlane's four-o'clock (Mirabilis macfarlanei) is found only on the grassy slopes of Hells Canyon of the Snake River and the Imnaha River canyon in northeast Oregon, and the Salmon River canyon of Idaho. It is threatened by invasive weeds and grazing. Photo - R. Holmes

  • Columbia Spotted Frog

    There are over 14 rare species of fish, wildlife and plants in the Hells Canyon Ecosystem. The Columbia spotted frog is a candidate species for listing as endangered or threatened.

  • Grazing

    Grazing is subsidized by the taxpayers on public land. The adverse environmental impacts of grazing are also bourn by the public in terms of dirty water, loss of wildlife habitat and a dramatic increase in noxious weeds.

  • Logging

    Logging on public lands converts healthy forests into unhealthy degraded landscapes that contribute to the decrease in biological diversity. Logging has declined on public lands due to environmental laws and the loss of old growth.

  • Motorized Vehicle Damage

    Motorized off road vehicles on public lands create a large number of problems including erosion, noise, dirty water and global warming. Limiting motorized use will limit adverse impacts to natural resources.

  • Mining

    Mining, mostly for gold, is causing significant impacts to the riparian areas on our public lands in NE Oregon. Most are relatively small scale, but the cumulative impact of as many as 50 in a single watershed can have a big effect on water quality and fish habitat. Photo: Greg Dyson

  • Biomes Native Grass

    The Hells Canyon, Wallowa and Blue Mountains region supports a spectacular diversity of plant and animal life. Within just a few air miles you can encounter alpine mountain peaks, a variety of coniferous forests, shrublands, creeks lined with hardwood trees and shrubs, rocky slopes of bunchgrasses, and the unique sandbars, beaches and terraces of the Snake River.

  • Biomes

    The Hells Canyon, Wallowa and Blue Mountains region supports a spectacular diversity of plant and animal life. Within just a few air miles you can encounter alpine mountain peaks, a variety of coniferous forests, shrublands, creeks lined with hardwood trees and shrubs, rocky slopes of bunchgrasses, and the unique sandbars, beaches and terraces of the Snake River.