Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) is a negative-sense RNA virus that infects wild and cultured salmonids throughout the Pacific Coastal United States and Canada, from California to Alaska. Although infection of adult fish is usually asymptomatic, juvenile infections can result in high mortality events that impact salmon hatchery programs and commercial aquaculture. We used epidemiological case data and genetic sequence data from a 303 nt portion of the viral glycoprotein gene to study the evolutionary dynamics of U genogroup IHNV in the Pacific Northwestern United States from 1971 to 2013. We identified 114 unique genotypes among 1,219 U genogroup IHNV isolates representing 619 virus detection events. We found evidence for two previously unidentified, broad subgroups within the U genogroup, which we designated 'UC' and 'UP'. Epidemiologic records indicated that UP viruses were detected more frequently in sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) and in coastal waters of Washington and Oregon, whereas UC viruses were detected primarily in Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the Columbia River Basin, which is a large, complex watershed extending throughout much of interior Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. These findings were supported by phylogenetic analysis and by FST. Ancestral state reconstruction indicated that early UC viruses in the Columbia River Basin initially infected sockeye salmon but then emerged via host shifts into Chinook salmon and steelhead trout sometime during the 1980s. We postulate that the development of these subgroups within U genogroup was driven by selection pressure for viral adaptation to Chinook salmon and steelhead trout within the Columbia River Basin.