Eastern Oregon: Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
Length: 218.43 miles / 349.5 km
Time to Allow: Allow about 8 hours to tour this Byway.
There are five ports of entry into the Byway:
La Grande from I-84, Elgin via OR Hwy. 204, Enterprise via OR Hwy. 3, Oxbow via Idaho Hwy.71, and Baker City from I-84. To encompass the entire route, this itinerary follows the Byway traveling from La Grande to Baker City, but driving the route from any starting point and in either direction is just as appealing.
From Baker City: As you travel on Interstate 84, enter the Byway end by taking exit 304 and following the signs to Oregon Highway 86. From there, just follow the signs to Hells Canyon.
From La Grande: Take exit 262 and follow the signs leading to Oregon Highway 82 to Wallowa County.
From Lewiston, Idaho: Travel on Oregon Highway 3 to Enterprise, then begin the drive in either direction on Oregon Highway 82.
Another entry from Idaho: From Idaho Highway 71, cross Brownlee Dam, follow the riverside road to Copperfield, and then get on Highway 86.
The Journey - Leave the fast pace and fenced-in views of Interstate 84 and follow the contours of the land into slower times and wilder places.
Travel this 218-mile journey from river's edge to mountaintop and down to valley floor. While the Byway can be driven in eight to 10 hours, it is best when enjoyed at a leisurely pace so allow at least two days to complete your trip.
Have lunch overlooking a wild and scenic river. Share a canyon road with a cattle drive. Pass through lush valleys, rimmed by the snow-tipped Wallowa Mountains. Savor the scent of pine on the fresh mountain air. Enjoy panoramic views of rugged basalt cliffs and grassy open ridges.
Stand next to the majestic Snake River as it begins its tumbling course through North America's deepest canyon. Place your hand in the weathered track of a wagon wheel. Hear the wind rushing through the forest. You are surrounded by the music of birds and bubbling streams. Stars seem brighter, smiles friendlier. This is a journey you won't forget.
The Road - The route of the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway is a loop that encircles the Wallowa Mountains, intersecting with Interstate 84 at La Grande and Baker City. Small towns, scattered along the drive, offer visitor services. The entire route is on a paved highway.
Plan ahead - you'll find stretches of more than 80 miles without gas and with few services. A segment of the Byway between Joseph and Halfway closes with snow in winter, but allows access to winter recreation areas, offering a different kind of Northeast Oregon Adventure.