Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in Oregon
June 16, 2007.
We are staying at Mountain View Travel Park in Baker City. $24.79 FHU, shade and a nice enough RV-Park. It must be a former KOA (Keep On Adding)since they charge extra for everything, $2 extra for wifi, $ 2 extra for larger sites, you get the picture ---- KOA Keep On Adding..
This was our day to check out Hells Canyon. It is a 90-plus mile drive, one way, from Baker City. I do not know what your idea of eastern Oregon is but let me tell you it is totally different from Portland and the Cascade Mountains along the coast.
Eastern Oregon is an extension of the great desert. However, things change often and rapidly. Eastern Oregon is a region of contrasts, as in hills, mountains and valleys. These changes in elevation create changes in vegetation especially in the mountains surrounding Hells Canyon.
Mountains play host to a variety of evergreen trees, quaking aspen, and other plants that respond to more water and cooler temperatures.
For those of you that may want directions to Hells Canyon Overlook in Oregon here are directions from Baker City. Follow SR -86 east to (10-miles east of Halfway, Oregon) then turn north onto the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway (Forest Service Road 39). Drive approximately 20-miles to Forest Road 3965, which leads a short distance to the overlook.
Joyce took the following pictures while we traveled north from Halfway, Oregon on Hells Canyon Scenic Byway (Forest Service Road 39).
Imnaha River along National Forest Road 39 in Oregon
Shortly after turning north on NF-39 we were in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. We quickly transitioned from eastern Oregon desert to an evergreen forest as we gained altitude.
Back on the Oregon side of the Snake River we turned off SR 86 onto National Forest Road 39 and headed to Hells Canyon Overlook 29-miles from the intersection of SR 86 and NF 39. We started climbing a mountain range following Imnaha River. As you can see it did not take us long to climb out of the desert environment into this evergreen forest.
Pine forest along National Forest Developed Road 39 in Oregon
This picture was taken along National Forest Developed Road 39 in extreme eastern Oregon along the Snake River in Hells Canyon NRA (National Recreation Area). While you see a forest here it is because we are at altitude. We are possibly 20,000 feet above the Snake River in Hells Canyon. As the elevation drops so does the rainfall and not far below where we are the area is a desert.
Ponderosa Pine along National Forest Developed Road 39 in Oregon
This picture was taken along National Forest Developed Road 39 in extreme eastern Oregon along the Snake River in Hells Canyon NRA (National Recreation Area).
The next picture is taken from this same spot. Notice how we are looking at a forest in this picture and a desert in the other picture.
Hells Canyon on the Oregon side
At this elevation we are in an evergreen forest but as you can see we are looking down into Hells Canyon that is surrounded by rugged desert. While you can not see the Snake River from this overlook it is out there in a steep canyon with 1,000 foot walls. The gray wave you see on the mountain wall in the distance is a layer of limestone that was laid down in an ancient ocean that has been uplifted and contorted by mountain building forces deep in the earth.
Is this the camas lily made famous by Louis & Clark?
Meadows and open areas at altitude were full of this flower that looked like it might be the Camas lily that produced the roots that Indians used to trade to emigrants on the Oregon Trail that were yearning for anything different in their diet. If anyone know what this plant is please let me know.
View from Hells Canyon Overlook in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area of Oregon
Mike & Joyce Hendrix
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