Ride Hells Canyon Scenic Byway

Bring your digital camera.  You will want to document all the scenic beauty of this region. Motorcycling the Hells Canyon Scenic 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.  Make sure you stay at the Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City.  Baker City was one of the biggest gold mining towns in the West.  The Gold Rush created this gem of a city.

23 mile Devil's Tail completed in 1966

Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon on the North American continent, and the Hells Canyon Project is located at one of the narrowest points in the canyon. Before crews could even begin construction, a 23-mile access road was cut along the Idaho side of the canyon (Now known as the Devil's Tail).  Morrison-Knudsen, the contractor, set up trailer-type offices, a first aid facility, and machine and carpentry shops on a small strip of level ground two miles upstream. Housing and a mess hall for construction crews were built nine miles upstream.

The narrow canyon prevented crews from locating the switchyard adjacent to the powerhouse and generators, like most hydropower projects. Instead the switchyard was mounted on the dam's face. Helicopters helped move tools and equipment and were used to erect transmission towers. These towers support the transmission lines that carry electricity out of the canyon on the Oregon side.

Although construction crews had to work in a cramped and nearly inaccessible place, they built Hells Canyon Dam to full height in only six months. - source: Idaho Power.

The Seven Devils Mountains

The Seven Devils Mountains extend along the Idaho/Oregon border for roughly 40 miles between the Idaho towns of Whitebird and Council. They are bounded by the Snake River on the west and the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers on the east. They form the eastern wall of Hells Canyon. The range ranks high among Idaho's mountain chains in terms of ruggedness and scenic quality; it is the state's most precipitous range, with elevations varying from just above 1,000 feet at the Snake River to 9,393 feet on the summit of He Devil.