Clarkston is located at the confluence of Clearwater and Snake Rivers, across the Idaho border from Lewiston. Nestled amongst the rolling hills characteristic of southeast Washington, this small town of about 8,000 is a winding but scenic drive away from Walla Walla in one direction and Spokane in the other. Connected through to the Pacific by the Snake River, the main branch of the Columbia River, Clarkston is also only one wilderness block away from Hells Canyon, a gorge deeper than the Grand Canyon and arguably as photogenic.
Hells Canyon is cut through by the Snake River along the Oregon/Idaho boarder and riffles with whitewater that can range from class II and III rapids to class V, river height depending. Most rafters book float trips conveniently through Clarkston operators, though independent types can try tackling the river on their own with the appropriate permits and paddling experience.
Jet boat tours also cruise the scenic length of the Snake as far as Hells Canyon Dam, offering a drier way to explore the curves and hidden corners of this roiling river. Most of the companies that offer jet boat or rafting tours along the Snake can also organize fishing trips.
In addition to its boat-oriented pleasures, Hells Canyon seduces travelers with tales of trails, the sort of rural routes that keep hikers and mountain bikers in the loop. Pitch your tent out of the city for better starry-night views, or head to one of the clutch of campgrounds that dot the region an easy drive beyond city limits.
Clarkston is 54 miles northwest of Walla Walla on Highway 12, 36 miles south of Pullman and 320 miles east of Seattle.