Description - The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway can forever change your perspective of nature and your place in it. The dramatic landscape enfolds and inspires you as the 218-mile journey takes you from the river's edge to the mountaintop, and then back down to valley floor. The temperature varies by as much as 50 degrees as the day wears on. You catch a scent of pine on the fresh mountain air and enjoy the songs of birds and bubbling streams. The stars seem brighter and the smiles friendlier. You feel tiny, yet strangely empowered.
The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway travels through a remote and rugged region; a place of extremes where the landforms have been the driving force behind the cultural and natural history. The byway furnishes the opportunity to tell this story. It also provides safe access to Hells Canyon and the area around the Wallowa Mountains on a paved, two-lane highway that passes through exceptionally scenic country.
The route consists of a loop that leaves I-84 at Baker City, encircles the Wallowa Mountains, and intersects again with I-84 at La Grande. The scenic drive helps interpret the relationship between our cultural heritage and the natural environment. This is done partly with a sequence of road signs, but the message is complimented by nonverbal communication that includes road quality, facility maintenance, vegetation management, and water quality. How we care for our natural environment, balancing enjoyment and use with longevity and health, foretells the future of this magnificent place.
- The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway - Oregon is known for it's archeology, cultural, historical, natural, recreational and scenic attractions.
Recreation - Recreational opportunities on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway include hiking, camping, bird-watching, rafting, and picnicking. Winter activities such as skiing, sledding and snowmobiling can also be found along this route.
Climate - Climate in Eastern Oregon varies greatly with elevation. The higher elevations experience colder temperatures and higher precipitation than the lower elevations. The region is much more arid and experiences greater temperature variations than western Oregon. Much of Eastern Oregon is considered high desert, where in some areas annual precipitation is less than 10 inches. Summer temperatures often reach 90 degrees in the lower elevations. Winters can be bitterly cold here, although there is little humidity. The mountains can receive heavy snowfall. If visiting the region during the summer months be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms and chilly evening temperatures. Snow may be encountered on high country trails throughout the summer months.
Hells Canyon Scenic Byway is located in northeastern Oregon. The byway starts in La Grande. Directions: Take OR-82 northeast toward Island City. The byway begins just after I-84.
Directions from : The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway can be reached from four different portal points:
- 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.