By Michael Lanza

North America’s deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon, is a place defined by extremes—of scale, solitude, grandeur. Although protected as wilderness, it still harbors evidence of the settlers who, many decades ago, tried to carve a life out of its rugged contours and harsh climate: falling-down cabins, rusted farm equipment. Perhaps more than any wild land I’ve known, this canyon fills me with a sense of having dropped out of time, of diving, wide-eyed, into Alice’s rabbit-hole. The biggest disconnect? That a place so ruggedly beautiful could attract so few visitors. See for yourself in this photo gallery, then read my story and see more photos from a four-day, 56-mile, rim-to-river-to-rim, solo backpacking trip on the Oregon side of the canyon.