Hells Canyon Scenic Byway

Old May 23rd, 2006, 05:28 PM
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Hells Canyon Scenic Byway

Has anyone driven the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway? As part of a two-week vacation in Oregon, we are planning to drive from Baker City to Joseph via Oregon Route 86 and Forest Road 39. Is 39 easy to follow, well-marked? It sounds like an amazing stretch of road.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 07:15 PM
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Yes. We did it a motorhome. It was a little drizzly and foggy so I can't say it was fabulous. We are from Oregon so much of it just looked like home to me but it was pretty. We even drove back to the Canyon overlook (driver isn't into that but I insisted) and it cleared for about 1 mintue (literally) for us to see a glimpse of the Canyon, wished it had been longer.

It was fun to drive around a corner and have to stop for the cows - free range in that part.

I do recommend it, it is pretty and if you have the time sure! I don't know how you will be traveling but outside Baker City (past the turn for the byway) all the way to the Oregon border, you practically dead end into a campground. It was very pretty and green and a nice place to stop before we did the scenic route. I don't think it had cabins but did have showers.

Do be sure to go to the Oregon Trail Museum, very well done! Baker City also has some pretty houses for an after dinner stroll or bike ride.

What else are you planning to see/do??

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Old May 23rd, 2006, 07:36 PM
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I drove in a few years ago. Then I hiked down into Hell's Canyon. Big mistake.
Coming out was so steep that I was exhausted by the time I reached the top.
The color of the canyon walls is the same unlike the Grand Canyon and you don't realize how far down you have gone or how steep that trail is until you start back up.

I was in good condition too.

I was so worn out that I had to let my wife drive us out. I hope the road is better now. On that trip it was full of pot holes!

I don't recall the drive being particularly spectacular, but the canyon itself is.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 02:00 PM
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Thanks for both of your replies. I appreciate the insight about hiking into the canyon, Bob. Guess we won't be doing that! Sara, we're doing a probably over-ambitious driving tour of Oregon/Washington, starting with Mt. St. Helens, then to Astoria, down the coast, up to Crater Lake via 199, and on to Bend, Baker City, Joseph, Hood River and finally back to Portland to rest up for a few days until we get on the plane to come home. We will definitely try to stop at the Oregon Trail Museum in Baker City. Thanks for letting me know about the cows. That would have been a real surprise if we didn't know to expect them.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 04:03 PM
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I will second the stop at the Oregon Trail Museum on Flagstaff Hill just out of Baker City.
If time permits drive to the east side of Mt. St. Helens this will take you thru the area that was destroyed when she poped.

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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 08:45 PM
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You are right - very ambitous!! It would be great if you had at least 2 weeks...??? You will certainly hit the high spots and see lots of different geograpy. Come back with more questions as you continue planning!


PS: They do have open range signs on the roads - but they do mean it literally!
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 09:25 PM
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This is a good link to scenic byways in all states;

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