What Is It?
Bending through the borders between Oregon, Idaho and Washington, Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in the country. No roads cross the canyon. The area is best experienced by car on the 208-mile Hells Canyon Scenic Byway.
The Snake River— which forms parts of Idaho’s borders with Oregon and Washington—cuts the deep canyon. From the Oregon border, cliffs drop more than a mile to the canyon’s bottom. It is nearly 8,000 feet from the top of He Devil Mountain—which is on the canyon’s edge in Idaho—to the bottom of the canyon.
What to Do
The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway in Oregon travels from La Grande to Baker City. Stop at the Hells Canyon overlook to get a view of Seven Devils Mountains in Idaho looming over the canyon’s edge. Stop at Hells Canyon Dam to get a view from the bottom of the canyon. Be sure to take snacks, water and maps on this five- to eight-hour drive.
The byway loops through the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. A short trip outside of Joseph, Oregon, takes you to Wallowa Lake. Consider a ride up the Wallowa Lake Tramway, which rises 3,700 feet to the top of Mount Howard and has views overlooking the forest. Visitors can see into Washington and Idaho.
The byway is best experienced during the summer. Part of the drive—Oregon Forest Road 39—closes in winter and early spring due to snow. To start planning your trip and to check local health restrictions, visit hellscanyonbyway.com.