Hit the Highway to Hells Canyon
Eastern Oregonians say they named it Hells Canyon to scare people away. (Not you. Other people.) If you’ve been waiting for the spring thaw to open the mountain passes, it’s time to hit the highway to Hells Canyon.
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is about 653,000 acres big. With the Snake River winding through the bottom of the canyon, it’s the deepest gorge in North America (yes, including the Grand Canyon) at almost 8,000 feet deep. Where it carves its way through eastern Wallowa County, there is much to see and do.
Hike: The Hells Canyon Wilderness is 214,000 acres of high peaks, rim rock spires and breath-taking vistas. Take your pick from 900 miles of trails for hiking and backpacking.
Float: Get a river’s-eye view of the canyon as you charge through world-class white water in a raft or on a jet boat. Choose from one-day jet boat trips or multi-day rafting down the Wild and Scenic Snake River.
Drive: The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway offers 218 miles of Oregon’s most rugged country. Leave I-84 at La Grande, and travel in a counter clockwise route through the towns of Elgin, Enterprise, Joseph and Halfway before arriving in historic Baker City. If you’re of the two-wheeled persuasion, check out the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally June 8-11 in Baker City.
About the Author: Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.
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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.