Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hells Canyon Scenic Byway

All I have to say is, "WOW". What a fantastic trip this turned out to be. I am sorry to say that we are still dealing with a very slow Wifi and I can't download pictures. Hopefully I'll be able to finish the post before I lose the signal.

We left La Grande after filling the tank at around 7:00 am this morning. Hopping I 84 we headed off towards Baker City. Just before Baker City we turned off the freeway on to 86 which took us to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. This National Oregon Trail History Center is chuck full of information regarding the early emigrants that made the trip from Independence, MO to Oregon and beyond. Plus we got our $10.00 senior Federal Parks Pass. We spent over an hour walking through the displays and listening to the tales of what went on from the journals of those who experienced it. A short drive away is a point along the highway that allows you to walk 180 feet to the site of the original Oregon Trail. What you can see the ruts created by the many wagon trains that followed the trail. There are roughly three hundred spots left across the nation where you can still see the original Oregon Trail.

Once we left the Interpretive Center we ended up driving on up to Richland and then Halfway. Along the way we pasted fields of grain waving in the breeze as the temperature began to increase. Cattle grazed on the hillsides as we pasted by farm after farm. Some look to be doing well, others, not so much.

Outside of Halfway we turned west on 39. This highway is impassable during the winter months and there was still snow on some of the higher elevations. It is a slow, twisting road that leads up the mountain site to our next stop, Hells Canyon Overlook. This is an amazing view and finding out that it all started roughly 300 million years ago. It is the single deepest river (the Snake river) gorge in the U.S. reaching depths of 7,993 feet over the 215,000 acres that it stretches up and down the Oregon/Idaho border. It is amazing to stand above and look down on 300 million years of mother natures handiwork.

From there we continued along 39 until it joins up with I 82. 39 stretches nearly 50 miles and is difficult, slow driving at lower than normal speeds. You are constantly on your toes looking for downhill vehicles that are cutting the blind corners. It is very slow driving and I suspect is part of the reason why it is recommended that you take at least two days to drive the route

We hit Joseph and spent some time wandering around the streets. Had a nice big ice cream cone and Mia found a quilt shop that where she could spend some money. We left Joseph and headed back towards La Grande passing through Enterprise, Elgin, and Imbler. All are obviously supporting the surrounding farms and cattle ranches.

We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and wished we had spent a little more time in Joseph.

I took 154 pictures of all kinds of stuff but the Wi-Fi is still not operating well so I am stuck until we get home.

It reached 90 degrees today and felt so good after the crummy summer we have experienced in Seattle.

Tomorrow is my visit to Northwood Manufacturing and Mia wants to go to the Quilt stores in La Grande as well as walk the historical homes of the city.

Tuesday we plan to head out early. We have kind of decided to try and make the 344 mile run to Gold Bar, via Zillah, Washington in one day. This should be fun. I am thinking I might let Mia try to drive the rig down the freeway and see how she does.

Be safe out there.


  1. sounds like a good plan to let Mia drive too!!..have a safe trip to Gold Bar!!

  2. Isn't that Interpretive Center interesting? Even better that we can get in free with our federal senior passes. It sounds like you're having a great trip!

  3. You are actually going to let Mia drive after calling her slow? Guts, man. Real guts.