There are fifteen dams in total along the Snake River, which aside from irrigation, also produce electricity, maintain a navigation channel along part of the river's route, and provide flood control. The highest recorded flow was 312,000 cu ft/s (8,800 m3/s) on June 19, 1974. [64] Meriwether Lewis supposedly became the first American to sight the drainage basin of the Snake River after he crossed the mountains a few days ahead of his party on August 12, 1805, and sighted the Salmon River valley (a major Snake tributary) from Lemhi Pass, a few miles from the present-day site of Salmon, Idaho. Strike Dam. This capacity was revised to 20 MW in 1993.[88]. People have been living along the Snake River for at least 11,000 years. Most rivers begin their life high up in the mountains and hills of the world. [65][66] The name "Lewis Fork", however, did not last.[64]. [12] However, in the lower and middle portions of the Snake River watershed, several native species have been severely impacted by agriculture practices and the resulting non-native species supported by them. Portions of the Snake River were designated “Wild and Scenic” in 2009. [47], The Snake River's average flow is 54,830 cubic feet per second (1,553 m3/s). The second-largest tributary is the Salmon River, which discharges approximately 8 million acre-feet of water every year. [citation needed]. The Hoover Dam is located in Black Canyon and helps control the flow of the Colorado River. [89], Brownlee Dam, the most upriver dam, was constructed in 1959, and generates 728 megawatts (MW). Where does the salmon river start and end? Here the Snake River almost doubles in size as it receives several major tributaries – the Owyhee from the southwest, then the Boise and Payette rivers from the east, and further downstream the Malheur River from the west and Weiser River from the east. The Henrys Fork is sometimes called the North Fork of the Snake River, with the main Snake above their confluence known as the "South Fork". [84] In 1893 the Annie Faxon suffered a boiler explosion and sank on the Snake below Lewiston.[78][85]. [26][27], As the Bonneville Floods rushed down the Snake River, the Missoula Floods occurred in the same period, but originating farther north. It is about 880 km long, falling 70 m on its trip to Lake Winnipeg, where it spreads into the vast deltaic wetland known as Netley Marsh. [26][28][29], The massive amounts of sediment deposited by the Lake Bonneville Floods in the Snake River Plain also had a lasting effect on most of the middle Snake River. Throw in a line at a hot spot along the river, or take advantage of a guided fly-fishing trip on the Snake River WY. The Columbia River takes a complex path to the ocean. Lake Idaho, formed during the Miocene, covered a large portion of the Snake River Plain between Twin Falls and Hells Canyon, and its lava dam was finally breached about 2 million years ago.[22]. [107] Because much of the electricity in the Northwest comes from dams, removing the four dams would create a hole in the energy grid that would not be immediately replaceable. (The dams can hurt juvenile baby sockeye salmon with their powerful tides and currents, which suck the baby salmon down.) Two of these catastrophic flooding events, the Missoula Floods and Bonneville Flood, significantly affected the river and its surroundings. [78] This stretch of the river is the easiest to navigate for watercraft since it has the least elevation change, although it still contained over 60 sets of rapids. Directly below the confluence, the river flows into Lower Granite Lake, formed by Lower Granite Dam, the uppermost dam of the Lower Snake River Project. [39] Most of the Snake River basin consists of wide, arid plains and rolling hills, bordered by high mountains. Above Lower Granite Dam, the river channel from Lewiston to Johnson Bar, just below Hells Canyon, is also maintained for jet-boats as this section is too rugged for ships.[91]. By the time Lewis and Clark explored the area, the Nez Perce and Shoshone were the dominant Native American groups in the region. They were the most powerful tribe in the Rocky Mountains area, and were known to many Great Plains tribes as the "Snakes". Map of the sources of Snake River : with its tributaries together with portions of the headwaters of the Madison and Yellowstone from surveys and observations of the Snake River Expedition Contributor Names Bechler, Gustavus R. Hayden, F. V. (Ferdinand Vandeveer), 1829-1887. Many rivers and streams flowing from the north side of the plain sink into the aquifer instead of flowing into the Snake River, a group of watersheds called the lost streams of Idaho. It passes through an agricultural valley about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Boise and flows briefly west into Oregon, before turning north to define the Idaho–Oregon border. There are also up to 118 species of rare or endemic plants that occur in the Snake River watershed. [101], Aside from aquatic species, much of the Snake River watershed supports larger animals including numerous species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. From its headwaters in eastern Idaho and Wyoming, the upper tributaries of the Snake River boast some of the best fishing on the planet. One crossing the trail made over the Snake River was near the present-day site of Glenns Ferry. The Snake River drainage basin encompasses parts of six U.S. states (Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming) and is known for its varied geologic history. The Columbia River flows about 325 miles (523 km) further west to the Pacific Ocean near Astoria, Oregon.[11][14][15]. North of Boise, the Snake enters Hells Canyon, a steep, spectacular, rapid-strewn gorge that cuts through the Salmon River Mountains and Blue Mountains of Idaho and Oregon. [30] The aquifer filled to hold nearly 100,000,000 acre feet (120 km3) of water, underlying about 10,000 square miles (26,000 km2) in a plume 1,300 feet (400 m) thick. [101], The Snake River below Shoshone Falls is home to thirty-five native fish species, of which twelve are also found in the Columbia River and four of which are endemic to the Snake: the relict sand roller (Percopsis transmontana) of the family Percopsidae, the shorthead sculpin (Cottus confusus), the maginated sculpin (Cottus marginatus), and the Oregon chub (Oregonichthys crameri). There are also stretches where the river and its tributaries have incised themselves into tight gorges. Before the completion of the lower Snake dams, grain from the region was transported by truck or rail to Columbia River ports around the Tri-Cities. In 1998, over 123,000,000 US bushels (4.3×109 l; 980,000,000 US dry gal; 950,000,000 imp gal) of grain were barged on the Snake. One of the oldest and most well-known is called the Marmes Rockshelter, which was used from over 11,000 years ago to relatively recent times. A map of the Columbia River watershed with the Snake River highlighted in yellow and the Columbia River highlighted in blue. Some of the rain soaks into the ground and the rest runs over the surface, collects in pools, then trickles downhill with the force of gravity. United States Geological Survey. Others gave the river names including Shoshone River (after the tribe) and Saptin River. [11][14][15][18], At the halfway point in Hells Canyon, in one of the most remote and inaccessible sections of its course, the Snake River is joined from the east by its largest tributary, the Salmon River. The Snake river, starting in the south of the park only 5 kilometer from the Yellowstone river (which starts far to the north), feeds the Pacific. Immediately below Ice Harbor Dam is Lake Wallula, formed by the construction of the McNary Dam on the Columbia River. The Snake River is one of the largest rivers in the northwestern part of the US. [7] The highest flow ever recorded on the Snake River was at a different USGS stream gauge near Clarkston, which operated from 1915 to 1972. As you leave Mountain City, riding through the Cherokee Nat'l Forest, there are some great views as you ascend over the first mountain ridge on some of the best twisties in the area. The mollusc richness extends into the lower Columbia River and tributaries such as the Deschutes River. The Fremont culture may have contributed to the historic Shoshones, but it is not well understood. The Snake River is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest region in the United States. [9] Its watershed is the 10th largest among North American rivers, and covers almost 108,000 square miles (280,000 km2) in portions of six U.S. states: Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, and Washington, with the largest portion in Idaho. Its watershed covers parts of six states in the country, which include Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming. Colorado is a let pass of the Western joined States encompassing most of the southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern allocation of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the great Plains. An even larger peak discharge, estimated at 409,000 cu ft/s (11,600 m3/s), occurred during the flood of June 1894. The Snake River Plain is a prominent depression across southern Idaho extending 640 kilometers (400 miles) in an east-west direction. The Snake River Plain and the gap between the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range together formed a "moisture channel," opening the way for Pacific storms to travel more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) inland to the headwaters of the Snake River. At 1,078 miles (1,735 km) long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, in turn the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. John Colter in 1808 was the first to sight the upper headwaters of the Snake River, including the Jackson Hole area. Major cities along the river include Jackson in Wyoming, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Boise, and Lewiston in Idaho, and the Tri-Cities in Washington (Kennewick, Pasco and Richland). [7] The lowest recorded daily mean flow was 2,700 cu ft/s (76 m3/s) on February 4, 1979. The Columbia and Snake rivers are located in the Pacific Northwest. The Snake River originates in Wyoming and arcs across southern Idaho before turning north along the Idaho-Oregon border. On the southwest side a divide separates the Snake watershed from Oregon's Harney Basin, which is endorheic. In the lowermost part of the watershed, in southeastern Washington, the Snake River is surrounded by an area called the Columbia Plateau Ecoprovince, which is now mostly occupied by irrigated farms. 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. At Twin Falls, in the center of the Snake River Plain, the climate is nearly desert, with an annual rainfall of just 9.24 inches (235 mm), although the average snowfall is 13.1 inches (330 mm). The dam was named for a 3-mile-wide (4.8 km) bend in the Snake River, shaped like an oxbow. [12], This article is about the river in the northwestern United States. As the North American Plate moved westwards over a stationary hotspot beneath the crust, a series of tremendous lava flows and volcanic eruptions carved out the Snake River Plain beginning about 12 million years ago, west of the Continental Divide. [67] The main stream flows southwest into Arrowrock Reservoir joining the South Fork from the Anderson Ranch Dam . From there, the Snake begins to form the Washington–Idaho border, receiving the Grande Ronde River from the west before receiving the Clearwater River from the east at Lewiston, which marks the head of navigation on the Snake. The lower Columbia River has likewise been dammed for navigation. [51] The discharge further increases to 19,530 cu ft/s (553 m3/s) at Hells Canyon Dam on the border of Idaho and Oregon. The party of three traveled into the headwaters of the Owyhee River, a major southern tributary of the Snake, but disappeared. She writes that this particular route was controlled by Mormons who had "built bridges where they were not needed-most unmercifully fleecing the poor emigrants". In the upper parts of the watershed, however, the river flows through an area with a distinct alpine climate. On the north the Snake River watershed is bounded by the Red Rock River, a tributary of the Beaverhead River, which flows into the Jefferson River and into the Missouri River, part of the Gulf of Mexico drainage basin. Salmon swimming upstream in this river are faced with predators and dams. Between here and Hells Canyon, the first dam on the Snake, Swan Falls Dam, was built in 1901. The first he calls "Broad Spectrum Foraging", dating from 11,500 to 4,200 years before present. The largest tributary of the Columbia River, the Snake River watershed makes up about 41% of the entire Columbia River Basin. The river supported species including chinook salmon, coho salmon, and sockeye salmon, as well as steelhead, white sturgeon, and Pacific lamprey. The Colorado supports habitats for a variety of wildlife from native fish to over 300 bird species. It rises in the mountains of the Continental Divide near the southeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming and flows south through Jackson Lake along the eastern base of the Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park. Grain, mainly wheat, accounts for more than 85% of the cargo barged on the lower Snake River. [102], The headwaters of the Snake River and the high mountains elsewhere in the watershed were historically heavily forested. In that period, the largest average annual flow recorded was 84,190 cu ft/s (2,384 m3/s) in 1997, and the lowest was 27,100 cu ft/s (770 m3/s) in 1992. [19] At this point, the Snake River watershed was beginning to take shape. This gauge recorded a maximum flow of 369,000 cu ft/s (10,400 m3/s)—more than the Columbia's average discharge—on May 29, 1948. (McNary Dam is not part of the Lower Snake River Project.) [95], Overall, these combined efforts have had good success. The Nez Perce also were involved in trade with the Flathead tribe to the north and other middle Columbia River tribes. There are also high, often localized levels of mollusc endemism, especially in Hells Canyon and the basins of the Clearwater River, Salmon River, and middle Snake River. Where Does The Brazos River Begin And End. [102], The Snake River watershed includes a diversity of vegetation zones both past and present. These include aspen, Douglas fir, and spruce fir, comprising about 20% of the historic watershed. About 6 million years ago, the Salmon River Mountains and Blue Mountains at the far end of the plain began to rise; the river cut through these mountains as well, forming Hells Canyon. As a result, the Shoshone centered on a trading economy. Explorers misinterpreted it to represent a snake, giving the river its present-day name.[56]. [69] Meanwhile, as American fur trappers kept coming to the region, the Hudson's Bay Company ordered the Canadian trappers to kill as many beavers as they could, eventually nearly eradicating the species from the Snake River watershed, under the "rationale [that] if there are no beavers, there will be no reason for the Yanks ([Americans]) to come. A pre-cruise hotel stay is sometimes included in the package. Eventually, the Shoshone culture merged with that of the Paiute and Bannock tribes, which came from the Great Basin and the Hells Canyon area, respectively. It then flows through Yellowstone National Park, streaming in and out of Yellowstone Lake, and drops 422 feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Another possible upstream passage solution is the Whooshh Fish Transport System. The Snake River is a major tributary of the Columbia River and has its headwaters just inside Yellowstone on the Two Ocean Plateau. It is arc shaped with the concave side to the north. The first was John Ordway in 1806, who also explored the lower Salmon River. The Snake River has fifteen dams and is extremely difficult for salmon to access because of hydroelectric dams. There is a wide array of Snake River Jackson Hole adventures to experience. [18][105], At the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, young salmon that swim down from spawning gravels in the headwaters of the Clearwater River often delay their migrations because of a significant temperature difference. [41], The Snake River watershed is bounded by several other major North American watersheds, which drain both to the Atlantic or the Pacific, or into endorheic basins. Dams on the Snake can be grouped into three major categories. One contemporary diarist crossing near Salmon Falls complains of "exorbitant" fees at the crossings that were a "constant drain" on the travelers purse. Introduced birds include the gray partridge, ring-necked pheasant, and chukar. Pollutant levels in Hells Canyon upstream of the Salmon River confluence, including that of water temperature, dissolved nutrients, and sediment, are required to meet certain levels. According to legend, the Nez Perce tribe was first founded in the valley of the Clearwater River, one of the Snake River's lowermost major tributaries. At its height, there were at least 27 Nez Perce settlements along the Clearwater River and 11 more on the Snake between the mouth of the Clearwater and Imnaha Rivers. The party later traveled north, descended the Lemhi River to the Salmon and attempted to descend it to the Snake, but found it impassable because of its violent rapids. Eventually, two large Native American groups controlled most of the Snake River: the Nez Perce, whose territory stretched from the southeastern Columbia Plateau into northern Oregon and western Idaho, and the Shoshone, who occupied the Snake River Plain both above and below Shoshone Falls. Paradoxically, the combination of these factors gives the young salmon further time to grow and to feed in Lower Granite Lake, so when they begin the migration to the Pacific Ocean, they often have a higher chance at survival, compared to those salmon who migrate to the ocean earlier. [99][100], The Upper Snake freshwater ecoregion includes most of southeastern Idaho and extends into small portions of Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada, including major freshwater habitats such as Jackson Lake.