Eastern Oregonians say they named it Hells Canyon to scare people away. (Not you. Other people.) If you’ve been dreaming of a road trip, 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 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.

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  1. Sylvia & Roger Falkner says…

    We did four time the Magnificient Oregon Coast (last Oct 012) .Now it’s time to see something diferent !Will start the 3dt of Sept !! Please sent me an awesome and photo scenery itinerairy !! Check Panoramio under Sylvia &Roger !! Thanks a lot !!

    Written on July 17th, 2012 / Flag this Comment
  2. Wanda Wildey says…

    Enjoyed your info.
    Trying to take day trip .drive from Seattle.
    Love old west. Oregon trail to Portland.
    Any suggestions.

    A lster date ee will hsve to visit painted mt and crater lake

    Written on June 9th, 2013 / Flag this Comment
  3. Deborah Birch says…

    This is where I grew up I call this beautiful country home. I miss it, been gone now well over 32 years, all I want to do is go home. No better place on earth than north east Oregon.

    Written on April 4th, 2015 / Flag this Comment

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