- Northeastern Oregon near the Idaho/Washington border.
- 218.43 miles (351 km)
- 6 hours to drive or 3 days to enjoy this Byway
- Drivable year round
The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway travels through northeastern Oregon, taking the valley of the Wallowa Mountains as its path. Steep-walled and lavishly verdant, the mountains dominate the scene as the road winds and flows along multiple rivers and through one of North America's deepest canyons.
Hells Canyon Scenic Byway starts from Baker City, 300 miles east of Portland. Take HWY 86, briefly traveling along FS-39 when crossing through the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. After exiting the forest, continue on HWY 82 to the end of the byway in La Grande.
Hells Canyon has plentiful land and water based recreation for all seasons. The confluence of the Minam and Wallowa Rivers is a popular launch point for rafting trips and is a beautiful place to have lunch. The Hells Canyon overlook offers a panoramic vista of McGraw Creek, Hells Canyon, and the Seven Devils mountain range. In the summer, the tramway to the summit of Mt. Howard enjoys an even more expansive view of the area. Also, The Umatilla National Forest and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest offer an abundance of camping, hiking, and bird watching.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Baker City/Baker Valley (OR)
Known early on as the "Queen City of the Mines," Baker City sits along the Powder River between the dramatic Elkhorn Ridge of theBlue Mountains and the Wallowa Mountains. Turn-of-the century Victorian architecture dominates the commercial and residential buildings of the city's downtown, earning it distinction as a National Historic District. Many buildings have been carefully restored, including the famous Geiser Grand Hotel.
The Oregon Trail Regional Museum highlights the area's history and houses a fantastic rocks and minerals collection. The Adler House Museum preserves the furnishings and ambiance of an early businessman and community philanthropist. Like the other communities along the Byway, Baker City is friendly and casual.Caution: after spending a couple hours here, you won't want to end your Byway adventure.
It's on the west end of the byway, at the intersection of I-84 and SR 86.
Buckhorn Springs Lookout (OR)
The magnificent view you see from Buckhorn Springs Lookout is the parallel canyons of Horse Creek, Lightning Creek, and Cow Creek coming into the Imnaha Canyon.
Columbia River Basalt (OR)
Lava covered this land up to 200 feet thick in some places. 38 different layers of lava can be seen in canyon areas. Columnar basalt is an impressive pillar formation found in some layers during the cooling process.
It is just north of Copperfield.
Cricket Flat (OR)
Located between Elgin and Minam, Cricket Flat is prime cattle country. The area features broad grassy ridges and narrow, timbered canyons.
It is just northwest of Elgin.
The former location of Fort Baker and a trading area since the 1880s, Elgin is a gateway to outstanding outdoor recreation in the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. Home to cattle, grain, and hay producers as well as mill and timber workers, this little community hosts the roaring Elgin Stampede PRCA Rodeo each July. The beautifully restored Opera House presents movies, concerts and live theater. It also houses the community's historical museum. The Grande Ronde River flows through town, providing ample opportunity to raft, fish and enjoy the scenery. A scenic side trip to the north will take you to the Looking Glass Fish Hatchery.
The largest of the Wallowa Valley communities, Enterprise offers an array of shops, accommodations and back country and river outfitters. As you leave town, watch the fields to the right, between mile posts #66 and #67, for the big black Clydesdale draft horses raised here. The Wallowa Mountains tower above rolling ranch lands.
A popular winter destination for snowmobilers, Halfway provides access to numerous recreational opportunities in the Snake River and Eagle Cap Wilderness areas. Visitors can also explore the historic gold mining country and the pristine southeastern base of the Wallowa Mountains.
Hells Canyon Overlook (OR)
The paved overlook provides outstanding views of McGraw Creek, Hells Canyon, and the Seven Devils Mountains. From the 5,400 foot high canyon rim, visitors can enjoy sweeping views and interesting displays about the canyon formation.
It is a couple miles north of Copperfield.
Historic Elgin Opera House and Museum (OR)
Built in 1912, the beautifully restored and acoustically perfect Elgin Opera House is home to the Elgin Museum and occasionally hosts movies, concerts, and tours.
The Historic Elgin Opera House and Museum is located at the Elgin City Hall on North 8th Street in Elgin, OR .
Hole in the Wall Slide (OR)
This major landslide which once temporarily dammed the Powder River covers the original road. The new road (on the other side of the river) provides an excellent view of the slide, a unique geographic feature.
The slide is just a few miles east of Baker City.