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Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Hells Canyon Dam
Scenic Drives

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Hells Canyon
Scenic Drives

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area's most popular drive is the Byway, an exhilarating panorama of extremes ranging from lush farmland and quaint towns to jaw-dropping vistas that seem to stretch forever. The 225-mile drive begins at La Grande, the intersection of Highways 84 and 82. Heading east on Highway 82, the byway meanders through the Wallowa Valley, a smattering of small towns that have existed since the late 1800s. At Highway 39 it enters the NRA at Salt Creek Summit, passing over Imnaha River and descending to Virtue Flat before concluding at Baker City. Visitors can take Highway 84 north to return to where they started.

Travelers driving FR 517 from Riggins, ID to Heavens Gates Overlook also see grand views of the Seven Devils Mountains.

Other scenic drives include:

Deer Creek Road, or Forest Road 493(take Idaho Highway 95 south from Whitebird to marker 222) on the northeast corner of the NRA, leads to Pittsburg Landing, a popular access point for the Snake River.

FR 39 and FR 3965 will take you to the breathtaking vistas of Hells Canyon Overlook, a 5,400 overlook of Seven Devils Mountains, and Hells Canyon.

FR 46, which cuts through the northwest corner of the scenic area, leads to Buckhorn Lookout and several remote camping areas, from the town of Enterprise (41 miles). Stopping points along this road provide spectacular views of the Wallowa Canyon and Hells Canyon.

FR 517 leads to Heavens Gates Overlook, arguably the best viewpoint for Hells Canyon, from the Idaho town of Riggins. The steep and winding road takes several hours to ascend.

Back roads are best traversed by 4x4, but most can be accessed by high-clearance cars during good summer weather (June-October). Vehicles towing trailers should be cautious when traversing back roads. Some back roads are narrow and involve steep, unprotected cliff areas. Roads at higher elevations may be icy or difficult during weather.

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