Joseph, Oregon is located on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, a 208 mile route that encircles the Wallowa Mountains. We decided to take a drive to the Hells Canyon Overlook, a slow 45 miles on a winding paved road, and definitely living up to the “Scenic” name.
Hells Canyon, along the Oregon/Idaho border, has the distinction of being the deepest river canyon in the U.S. The top rim is almost 8,000’ above the Snake River below, making it a half mile deeper than the Grand Canyon. Who knew? Unfortunately you can’t see the Snake River from the overlook we drove to, but it is still quite impressive.
The Seven Devils Mountains separate Hells Canyon from the Salmon River. The tallest in the range, He Devil, tops out at 9,393 feet. Each peak has its own “devilish” name; She Devil, The Ogre, The Goblin, Twin Imps, Devil’s Throne, Devil’s Tooth.
It was a nice spot for lunch. We sat on one of several benches to eat, but as we walked farther along the overlook discovered a picnic table that was hidden from view.
Much of the trail is open due to a fire in 1994.
The wildflowers up to our waists on some of the trail.
The trail follows the lovely Imnaha River.
Jim came face to face with this butterfly.
While I came face to face with this water snake as I put my hand in to check the temperature of the river.
At about two miles the trail makes a little detour where we scrambled up rocks for better views of Blue Hole.
We continued on farther to see what was ahead, and came to another viewpoint of some rapids.
Where we found a huge logjam below.
It’s a really nice hike, nearly 4.5 miles round trip, but not a huge amount of elevation change. We saw 4 people coming back near the beginning of the trail, but didn’t see anyone else the rest of the hike. Just the way we like it.