Saturday, May 17, 2008


Hey, it's time for the first Eastern Oregon Roadtrip!

I will start all my little excursions from the intersection of Adams Avenue and Island Avenue in downtown La Grande, shown above. The mileage will be shown from this location. Unless otherwise noted, all trips will be made in Trusty Car, my 2006 Toyota Prius.

At the end of the post, you will get to know what music I listened to, what the temperatures were during the trip, and how well Trusty Car did on gas mileage.

Clicking on the pictures will probably make them bigger. In some cases, you will want to click to read the notes on historical markers, see details up close, etc. If I take a picture through a dirty windshield and you don't like it, you can chew me out in the comments section.

Enough blabbering... Let's go!

0.0 Going east on Adams, turn left onto Oregon highway 82.

1.5 Enter Island City.

2.4 At the main intersection in Island City, Highway 82 makes a sharp left to the north.

3.2 Some nice views, first of Mt. Emily (elevation about 6,000 feet) and then of Mt. Harris (about 5,400 feet) taken from Halley Road intersection on Highway 82.

Highway 82 heads north-northeast through the Grande Ronde Valley. La Grande is at the southwest end of the valley. The valley is roughly 20 miles long form north to south, and 15 miles wide from west to east.

10.0 Looking north toward Imbler.

11.8 Enter Imbler, population about 300.

12.0 Imbler main street.

16.2 view of Mt. Harris looking SE from OR 82.

17.5 Looking north toward Indian Valley on Highway 82.

19.5 Enter Elgin, population about 1,600.

19.8 Elgin's main street. The mainstay of the local economy is a mill where plywood is produced. I worked in the Elgin schools from 1989 to 1994, and enjoyed it very much. The people of the town tend to be very nice.

20.0 Elgin Opera House. This is a great place to watch a movie. One night when my wife Kit and I were watching a movie there, a bat flew out of a ceiling light fixture and terrorized some teenage girls. The theater manager tried to pass it off as a blackbird, but Kit and I knew better. Another time, the popcorn machine caught fire and the movie had to be stopped for a while so they could air out the theater. I tell you, the place has character!

20.3 Leave Elgin. Highway 82 heads up a fairly steep hill for a mile of so to get onto the gentle rolling area known as Cricket Flat.

24.0 View of Cricket Flat

26.6 More views of Cricket Flat, first looking north, then looking northeast.

28.6 Minam Hill summit, elevation 3653

29.1 View of mountains and Minam Canyon area looking SE, just past Minam Hill summit.

30.5 Viewpoint at corner on downhill. Slow down, stop here, and take a look! This first picture is looking south up the Minam River canyon, into the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. I think this viewpoint is 400-500 feet above the river. Drive carefully!

This picture is looking to the northwest as the road continues down the hill to Minam.

30.7 Viewpoint - looking north down the hill toward Minam.

33.2 Minam is at the bottom of the hill. There isn't much here, maybe a couple of houses, a motel, and a store. This is the place where the Minam River meets the Wallowa River. From here, the Wallowa flows north to meet the Grande Ronde River en route to the Snake. This is roughly where you enter Wallowa County from Union County.

Rafting is a popular activity on the lower Wallowa River, and many people who do it "put in" at Minam.

This is looking downriver along the Wallowa from the Minam bridge on Highway 82.
33.8 The Wallowa River canyon.

34.9 Big Canyon Rd.

36.8 Wallowa River Wayside rest area

39.0 Johnson Timber Wayside. These big trees were donated to the state of Oregon by a couple who wanted them preserved. These are big, pretty ponderosa pines!

39.4 Another, older rest area. The first picture is looking up the side canyon behind the outhouses. The second one is a shot of Trusty Car posing with the Wallowa River canyon in the background. South-facing slopes in the Blue Mountains tend to have little in the way of trees, while the north-facing, shaded slopes tend to be thickly forested.

41.0 Water Canyon road and property. This is a beautiful old parklike place with a nice older house and a new one too. It is a private residence, but there is not law against looking at it and admiring it from across the river.

41.8 Leave the canyon, and enter the Wallowa Valley.

44.2 view SE toward town of Wallowa.

44.6 Promise Road intersection. Promise Rd. leads north to the location of the old logging community of Maxville, and the locale known as Promise. The small town of Troy, on the Grande Ronde River, is 39 miles north along this road. It's gravel all the way. One of these days I will do that drive and document it for you.

46.0 Enter Wallowa, population about 800. Wallowa is the town where my father lived as a boy and where he graduated high school. My grandmother lived there until her death in 1988, and from the time I was born until the time I graduated high school, we spent at least one weekend per month in Wallowa with Grandma.

46.5 Evans Park in Wallowa, named after my grandparents James and Myrtle Evans. Grandma lived in the big white house to the left in the picture. When she died in 1988, the land went to the city of Wallowa, and the park was created. When I was a boy, I spent many hours exploring the huge yard and catching bugs in this place!

46.7 The Little Bear Drive-In, a great place to get a good old fashioned burger, fries and shake. I have eaten here many times, as a traditional meal after a backpack trip or long day of hiking in the Wallowa Mountains!

46.9 Wallowa's main street.

47.1 Whiskey Creek Road, to Wallowa Cemetery.

SIDETRIP: The Cemetery is 1.2 miles from town. This is where my father and his parents are buried. I won't be able to go to the cemetery on Memorial Day because I will be at the Sasquatch Festival at The Gorge, so I went there today to take some flowers from our flower beds to the grave sites.

Here is an amusing sign along the road to the cemetery.
Grandparents James Ward and Myrtle Maud Evans:

My dad, John William Evans:
The cemetery is a pretty place, with some big old evergreens and lots of old gnarly-looking bushes. Brewers' Blackbirds like to nest in the bushes, and it is not uncommon to get dive-bombed by protective birds if you get too close to the babies!

And then back to Wallowa and Highway 82.


47.3 Leave Wallowa. Highway 82 follows the Wallowa River along a hillside.

49.0 Leave river, enter open valley area.

49.4 Nice view of the Wallowa Mountains, looking SE up the valley toward Lostine.

54.1 Enter Lostine, population about 300. Not sure where the town got its name, but supposedly it was named after some place in Kansas.

54.5 Lostine's main street, from inside the car.

54.7 The Blue Banana coffee shop in Lostine is not only a visual curiosity, but they have excellent coffee!

54.9 Leave Lostine. From Lostine, Highway 82 follows the Wallowa River in a shallow canyon for about eight miles. Beautiful, hilly scenery.

60.3 Sunrise Road

63.0 Fish Hatchery Lane

63.8 Historical marker, with some great views of the Wallowa Mountains to the south:

Looking SE toward Joseph and Wallowa Lake. Chief Joseph Mountain is to the right in this picture. Aneroid Mountain is in the distance in the center.

Chief Joseph Mountain to the left, Hurricane Creek canyon in center, Twin Peaks at right center.

64.0 Enter Enterprise, population about 1,900.
64.6 Junction with OR Hwy 3 north to Lewiston, ID

64.8 I like Wallowa County's old stone courthouse in Enterprise. If I read the Roman numerals correctly, the date on it 1909 (MCMIX).

65.1 Hurricane Creek Road

65.5 Leave Enterprise. Highway 82 skirts the edges of low unforested hills as it heads east to southeast.

66.0 A great view south from the highway. Look for Clydesdale horses in this area! They weren't out today, or I would have posted pics of them.

68.1 Buckhorn Springs Road takes off from the highway for Zumwalt Prairie and a great viewpoint overlooking the lower canyon of the Imnaha River and into Hells Canyon of the Snake River. I think it's about 35 miles of good gravel up Buckhorn Springs Road to the view. I'd like to get out that way at some point this summer, and if I do, I'll take pictures. Anyway, at this intersection Highway 82 heads due south for Joseph.

70.6 Enter Joseph, population about 1,300.

70.9 This sign in Joseph is well-known to people in NE Oregon.

Joseph is home to some bronze foundries, and the town has developed an arts community over the past decade or two. As the timber industry has declined, other things have taken hold, including arts. The local refrain in Wallowa County is usually "the mills have had to close down because of the environmentalists", but I would think other factors were in play, such as changing economic times and decades of poor forest management... but that's another matter, probably for my other blog. Anyway, here is a nice bronze work.

Joseph is a friendly town with a lively main street area. I have two cousins in Joseph. One runs a coffee-brewing company with friends, and they call their product Motley Brew; her husband is building a distillery which he will help run! She and my other cousin are both accomplished photographers too.

Also of interest: I have seen many, many Ron Paul signs in Wallowa County. Seems he is popular up this way. (I wonder if any of the supporters here know about his newsletters from the past... heh...) I was quite surprised in this very conservative area to also see quite a few yard signs for Barack Obama. People here are mostly conservative, but they definitely know when it's time for a change. The fact that I saw no Clinton or McCain signs was very encouraging!

Here is that lively main street:

71.9 Leave Joseph. Highway 82 climbs gently for the next .6 mile through the glacial moraine at the outlet end of Wallowa Lake.

72.5 Old Chief Joseph grave site. Here is an interpretive display:

Here are a couple of pictures of the grave marker. In the second picture, check out some of the offerings people have left. The partially-smoked cigar is probably my favorite.

72.7 View of Wallowa Lake looking south

73.0 View of Wallowa Lake looking south

77.0 Wallowa Lake Lodge:
From the lodge, a side road leads one mile north into what I call the "business area" at Wallowa Lake. Along this spur road one can find Russell's Gift Shop and Restaurant, Heidi's Gift Shoppe, Eagle Cap Chalets, the Wallowa Mountain Tramway, a mini-golf course, go-carts, cabins, condos, etc. Wallowa Lake is a happening place in the summer, with lots and lots of people there.

77.4 Wallowa Lake State Park. The first pictures is looking south with Mt. Bonneville in the background.

Wallowa Lake State Park - Mt. Howard in the center background. Wallowa Mountain Tramway has a gondola ride to the top, with many incredible views!

Looking north across Wallowa Lake from the state park.

At Wallowa Lake State Park near the marina.



This is an enjoyable alternate route between Joseph and Enterprise. The mileages are shown starting at Joseph.

1.0 View of Hurricane Creek Canyon. Peaks are, from L to R, Twin Peaks, ???, Sawtooth Peak, and Scotch Butte.

1.6 Mule deer.

2.1 Hurricane Creek Grange and junction for road to Hurricane Creek trailhead. The trail is a fairly easy grade, and takes the hiker 12 miles up Hurricane Creek to the Lake Basin in the heart of the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.

6.9 Enterprise City Limits

7.1 Fish Hatchery Lane

7.2 Highway 82 in Enterprise


It was a great trip today. The weather was very sunny, and it was unseasonably warm at 88 to 91 degrees all afternoon.

Music for the trip was the 2-CD "David Live" by David Bowie (live show from 1974... GREAT stuff!) and The Stone Roses' "Complete Stone Roses" CD.

165 miles were driven in all, and Trusty Car got 57.0 miles per gallon on this trip.


Sheryl said...

Hey, Snave!!!! Thanks for sharing the new link!!! Love the pics!! I've been thinking about getting a camcorder for a while, but I'm thinking of getting another computer instead, but I am envious of all those cool pics. Beautiful!!!

I like that one with the car sticking out of the building. I think I maybe have seen a building like that before here in Texas, but itself a pretty cool effect. :-)


NorthCountryLiberal said...

Wife and I are coming to OR for a wedding in Reedsport. Be there for one week in July.

Flying into Portland, renting a car to drive down the coast.

Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Great shots, Snave -- reminds me how gorgeous it is out where you are!

Randal Graves said...

57 MPG? Super car! Great shots. You really do live in and around some beautiful scenery.

Tom Harper said...

Nice pictures. Wallowa Lake looks a lot like Lake Crescent on the Olympic Peninsula.

I tend to think of Eastern Oregon as mostly high desert -- i.e. the road from Bend through Burns to Ontario. But I have been to other parts of Eastern Oregon and I do remember that it has a lot of great mountain scenery.

Heather said...

thanks, Snave, for a wonderful trip. I live in Joseph and own the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast. Any chance I might link your blog to my blog that will link to my website? I'd like to give visitors a chance to see what the road's like coming from LaGrande.

By the way, in the pasture just west of Joseph State Airport on Hurricane Creek Road there's a young elk who was adopted by the cattle there. "Ernie" has been there for two winters.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Nice shots! Reminds me of the Frogette's and my trip to western Oregon last fall. Wonderful part of the country.

Snave said...

Thanks to all for your comments thus far! I won't post here as often as I do at my other weblog, but this blog should be fun and informational. Please check back here from time to time!

Sheryl, that little coffee shop is a real hoot! And like I said, very good coffee can be had there!

NCL, hope you got my e-mail. Have a great trip, the Oregon Coast is a beautiful place! I'll be down that way this summer at some point and I will post a number of pictures, but it will after you are there.

David, glad you like the pictures! We need to visit again sometime soon.

Randal, you should also come visit sometime!

You are right Tom, there is a lot of variety in eastern Oregon's scenery. There will be a lot of shots of forested mountain areas on this blog, but I hope to show a number of desert scenes as well. That part of EO may seem flat and ugly to some, but much of it is very beautiful and teeming with life!

Heather, I have linked your blog to this one already in my JOSEPH LINKS section I started. I'll come visit you at the Bronze Antler sometime!

Kvatch, you and the Frogette ought to come check out this part of the world sometime too... it's a nice part of the world. And I also need to get back to the Bay Area, I haven't been to SF for 29 years!!!

Mauigirl said...

Wonderful travelogue! Spectacular pictures and a great tour. We've been out to Oregon once, to Portland - which was great (we drove into the countryside and went up Mt. Hood, etc. too). Your blog is making me want to go back and spend a lot more time in your fair state!

Joe said...

I'm a fan of old courthouses and appreciate the pic you took of the one in Enterprise. When the county invested that kind of money to build a courthouse in town, it pretty much assured survival of the town. Unless the county seat moved.