Friday, July 22, 2016

A Glimpse Into Hells Canyon and a Hike to Blue Hole



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.





On the way home we took a 9 mile detour to the Indian Crossing Trailhead in the Eagle Cap Wilderness for a hike to Blue Hole.


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.


  1. Really gorgeous scenery in that Devil area. Wonder who was so fixated on him in the naming process. I had no idea that canyon was deeper than the Grand Canyon. That's my educational highlight for today I'll bet. Love your hike. Water and wildflowers up to my waist would be just the way I like it too.

  2. Beautiful! I did the 'byway' several years ago, but not the hike! Gotta go back ... WOW!

  3. Love the Devils in Hell'sCanyon. Another very nice hike.

  4. Beautiful drive! I love the names of the even Devils:) Very nice hike...pretty water, deep canyons, and wildflowers:) But not the water snake!

  5. Gorgeous! That is an area I'd like to explore.

  6. If that's "Hell," I can't wait to get there!

  7. Definitely not how I picture hell :-) Such beautiful views!! Definitely love the snake, you got a great shot of the coloring under water. Wonderful to find water and flowers and to have it to yourselves.

  8. I did the jet boat tour of Hell's Canyon back in 2006. There was a big fire going on then too.

  9. A very impressive canyon even from a Grand point of view. The wildflowers are spectacular. A great hike.

  10. Thanks so much for the tour. The Wallowas is an area where we want to go back and explore.

  11. You always find the prettiest hikes.

  12. Been enjoying following you on your travels through Redding on up to here; even though we've been to many of the same places, we haven't explored the same things as you, so now we have new ideas. Last year we missed getting to the Wallowas because of fires and lack of time. Instead we headed down central OR via 395 and turned west to Redding & Bend for a stay. Your pics are terrific as always.

    1. Thanks! We really enjoyed the Joseph area and would like to go back. We're now dealing with smoke from the Idaho fires. Seems to be the norm while traveling during the summer.