Travel | November 29, 2021 6:33 am

How Do You Deliver Mail to Hells Canyon? It Starts With a Boat.

Could this be the most scenic mail delivery route out there?

Hells Canyon
Hells Canyon, near the border of Oregon and Idaho.
Lech Naumovich/Unsplash

Where would you go to find the deepest river gorge in North America? You’d want to venture to the northwestern United States, to the border between Idaho (to the east) and Oregon and Washington (to the west). That’s Hells Canyon, an evocatively-named geological feature which features a drop of 7,913 feet. All told, the Hells Canyon Wilderness encompasses 652,488 acres.

And somewhere in there, you’ll find a few dozen mail stops.

This begs the question: how do the people living in the valley get their mail? As it turns out, it’s from the same people who could give you a tour of the river. At Atlas Obscura, Michelle Harris interviewed Jill Koch. Koch, along with her husband Jim, owns and operates Beamers Hells Canyon Tours — a business which has also had a government contract to deliver mail since 1974.

As Koch explained, the mail delivery process is a weekly process that takes place over the course of a day. “It’s just under a 200-mile round trip that begins at 8 a.m. and finishes by 6 p.m.,” she told Atlas Obscura. “And we do it every Wednesday no matter the weather.”

The article provides a fascinating look at what the mail route is like — but if you’re especially curious, you can also book passage on board one of the mail delivery trips, which includes an overnight option. There aren’t many circumstances in which tagging along while the mail is delivered qualifies as a trip worth taking, but this one certainly seems to fit the bill.