Areas of Interest:

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Hells Canyon
Recreation Area
 

     Hells Canyon is one of the most remote places in the Pacific Northwest you can dare to venture. Its beautiful scenery and peaceful atmosphere is hard to find anywhere else. The remoteness may be overwhelming at first, but once you get your first good breath of fresh air, it’s addicting. Photographers as well as those interested in river rafting or jet boating will find plenty to pique their interest here.

     Reaching a maximum depth of 7,900 feet, it is the deepest gorge in North America, even deeper than the Grand Canyon! In places, the walls rise perpendicularly for several thousand feet. The canyon is 125 miles long, and is more than a mile deep for 40 of those miles. It forms part of the Oregon-Idaho boundary and separates the Seven Devils and Wallowa Mountains. Depending upon the season, parts of the canyon are richly-colored in shades of yellow, red, and orange. It is definitely a locale best described with pictures rather than words...and better experienced than read about. If you are an outdoor enthusiast or love to travel to unique places, you won't be disappointed with your trip to Hells Canyon.

     There are three ways you can access Hells Canyon: Highway 86 from Baker City, Oregon; Highway 71 from Cambridge, Idaho; and United States Forest Service Road #39 from Joseph, Oregon, which is a paved road maintained June thru October only (it is not open during the winter months). There is just one gas station, one grocery store, and one restaurant in the Hells Canyon area, so have a full tank of gas and plan accordingly.

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Halfway
 

     Halfway is nestled in the center of Pine Valley, between Richland (Eagle Valley) and Oxbow (Hells Canyon). From spring through fall, downtown is festooned with colorful hanging flower baskets. In the winter, abundant snow adds the roar of snowmobiles to Halfway's neighborly traffic.

     The city and its merchant community serve the needs of its 350 residents, those of the Pine Valley ranching and farming community, and the many visitors who find their way to our corner of the state. Snowmobile and cross-country skiing enthusiasts find respite in Halfway after a day of fun and excitement in the nearby mountain areas which are honeycombed with many interesting trails. Hiking, back-country skiers, and rock climbing buffs camp out or use one of the many excellent lodging facilities in town as their base camp. Those interested in the area's history enjoy browsing the local library and the museum, which is filled with Pine Valley history, artifacts, diaries, and records.

     To make your stay as comfortable as possible, Halfway's city government, businesses, and service organizations work hard to keep Halfway up-to-date while maintaining its historic character and personality. You'll enjoy Wi-Fi in town and cellular service even while hiking the west wall.

     Locals are often asked how the town got its name. There are several stories, even a short & snappy retort "because it's Halfway between Heaven and Hells Canyon", but the most widely-accepted version is that when a new post office was being established in 1887, the Postmaster requested the name Midway because the location was midway between the existing post offices in Cornucopia and Pinetown. That name was already in use elsewhere in the state, so postal officials suggested the name Halfway instead, and that was that.  Two years later, the post office was moved to its present location, and as that was about halfway between the Pine post office and the original location near Jimtown, they saw no reason to change the name. About 100 years later, the town was chosen to be the first "dot-com" city and gained notoriety for changing its name to "half.com" for one year as part of a publicity campaign for a start-up online retailer.

 

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Richland

     Richland is a convenient stop on Oregon State Highway 86, the Hells Canyon Scenic By-Way and All-American Road. A lovely farming and ranching community, Richland has lots to offer its visitors.

     Known for its shorter winters and longer growing seasons, Richland is located on the Powder River arm of the Brownlee Reservoir, one of the top five warm-water fishing areas in the country.  A fishing mecca, it is home to the annual Crappie Tournament and the Eagle Valley Grange Steak Feed, both popular attractions to visitors from far and wide.

     Nearby Hewitt & Holcomb Baker County Recreation Parks are located on the Brownlee Reservoir, a quick drive from downtown Richland for the fishing adventure vacationer.

     Local businesses offer a variety of services for visitors, including two restaurants, grocery, variety, and hardware stores, and two real estate offices for those who may decide to put down a few roots...whether for a vacation or year-round home.

 

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Oxbow

     For adventure-bound travellers, the Pine Creek/Oxbow area is a handy re-supply stop and the crossroads between Hells Canyon Dam and Brownlee Dam. Nestled at the base of Oxbow Dam, it offers many services for vacationers along the Highway 86 Oregon Scenic By Way as well as filling the needs of hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventure enthusiasts.

     Oxbow has a rich history, from the early Oregon Trail pioneer days when farms and orchards were established by early settlers, to its early 20th century dam-building hey day.  The succulent fruit and produce from those early orchards are gone beneath deep reservoirs, but visitors will still find wild apricots, plums, and blackberries in seasonal abundance.

     Vacationers today will find excellent parks and RV accommodations maintained by Idaho Power, a lovely B & B, restaurant, convenience store, and gas station.

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Cornucopia

     The town of Cornucopia was settled in the early 1880's and named for the "horn of plenty" its gold reserves represented.  Mines with colorful names like "Queen of the West" and "Last Chance" produced millions in gold before closing in the 1940's. Though there are very few buildings left, it was once a bustling community with a population of over 2,000. 

     The nearby area is a popular access point to the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, which, at 360,000 acres, is the largest wilderness area in the state and offers endless opportunities for horseback riding, hiking, fishing, photography, or viewing wildlife. Immerse yourself in history and nature in one beautiful setting.

Photos courtesy of Hells Canyon Journal, Baker County Library Historical Archives,

Anna Brisk, Phil Wreden, Cindy Thayer, and Timothy Bishop of Base Camp Baker

News and event information courtesy of Hells Canyon Journal

 

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