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2014 Is the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway Forest Road 39 open yet?

US Forest Service image of the Hells Canyon Scenic BywayIt seems like every year in May we hear variations on the same question:

Is the Wallowa Mountain Loop Road open yet?

Is the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway open yet?

Is Forest Road 39 or FR39 or Highway 39 open yet?

For 2014, it’s going to be a little difficult to answer because there’s already major reconstruction of this beloved road going on and it will continue through October 2014.  Fortunately for us all, the Wallowa-Whitman Office of the US Forest Service has a page on their website with press releases on the road’s status.  You’ll find the latest information at this link.  If you have difficulty visualizing exactly where the construction is taking place and where the detour routes are, take a look at the map on this PDF file.

Here’s a synopsis from the May 1, 2014, press release:

Spring 2014: Construction work on the 13-mile North Pine section of FSR 39 has begun and this section of the road will be closed until June 15, which will begin the next phase of the construction, roadway excavation (see next bullet).
June 16, 2014 to June 30 2014: The 13-mile North Pine section of FSR 39 will be closed beginning at 8:00 am every Tuesday morning through 5:00 pm every Thursday evening 6/16/14 – 6/30/14. The road will be open at 5:01 pm every Thursday evening through 7:59 am every Tuesday morning for travel 6/16/14 – 6/30/14. However, it’s important to note that the road surface will be rough as it is still under construction during these open periods.
July 1, 2014 to October 15, 2014: Visitors can expect up to one hour delays on the 13-mile North Pine section of FSR 39 or use the detour. Construction activities will be on-going, so please drive responsibility through the construction zone (see detour route information below beginning July 1, 2014).

Detour Route Information: Forest Service Road (FSR) 66 will be available for use as the detour route depending on snow levels. FSR 66 begins at the junction of FSR 39 and FSR 66 (also referred to as Duck Creek, Fish Lake Road, Twin Lakes Road, or Clear Creek Road) and continues west then south before connecting with Baker County Road 999, just north of Halfway. The detour route is 30 miles in length and is a single-lane gravel road with turnouts. The route is suitable for vehicles with trailers; however it is not recommended for motor homes. Visitors should be aware that the Wallowa Mountain Loop Road and FSR 66 are often closed by snow from late October through late June, and are not passable by automobiles during this time period. Both FSR 66 and FSR 39 are snowmobile routes.

Bottom line:  If you’re planning to drive center section of the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway in 2014, you’ll need patience.  This is particularly important for guests going to/from Hells Canyon Adventures jetboats at the Hells Canyon Dam and for guests coming from Idaho on the back way.  If you’re a motorcyclist, watch the press releases.  Much of the detour route involves gravel roads.

CNN Travel Recognizes Hells Canyon

Jet Boat on Hells Canyon originally produced by Kyle Hill of the Lewiston Tribune

Jet Boat on Hells Canyon originally produced by Kyle Hill of the Lewiston Tribune

If you’re planning your spring and summer travel schedule, here’s a great article from CNN Travel about the tallest, deepest, longest, etc., record-setting places in the United States to visit.  Feature writer Helyn Trickey Bradley has come up with 10 superlative sights for US travel.  Two are in Oregon.  And one is right here in Wallowa County!  She writes:

The Grand Canyon in Arizona may be immense, boasting nearly 277 river miles in length, but for sheer depth, Hells Canyon in eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and western Idaho wins hands-down. . .read more from this article

Helyn suggests a trip to Hat Point Lookout, the highest point on the Oregon side where you can look down deep into Hells Canyon and see the rapids at the bottom.  We also know that you have a fine view of He Devil, the highest point of Hells Canyon on the Idaho side and the reason that Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon in the US.  As one of the Seven Devil Mountains, you feel you can almost reach out and touch them when you’re up there.  We try to get up to Hat Point every now and then and have written some blog posts about it before.

The getting to Hat Point isn’t dangerous, but it is a bit more than some people bargain for.  From Joseph, the drive is 26 miles of pavement to to the little town of Imnaha, followed by 26 miles of dirt road to the Hat Point Lookout.  Ask a local and they’ll tell you the first 5 miles of that 26 mile dirt road can be a little unnerving, but once you’re through that it’s home free all the way to the lookout.  Of course, you’ll have to come back the same way you went.  Best to leave the low slung city car at home.

Might you need some local advice when planning this Eastern Oregon vacation trip?  Give us a call here at the Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast in Joseph.  We’re along the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway and are one of the closer Hells Canyon lodging locations for a trip to Hat Point.  And a resource for maps, guides, and other things to take along for your trip to Hells Canyon.  See you soon!

 

 

 

 

Wow! Travel Oregon and the Wallowas

Videos and other materials are just starting to roll out about the Seven Wonders of Oregon, a new campaign hosted by Travel Oregon to introduce some remarkable places in our gorgeous state.  The Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon and the surrounding area were lucky (and naturally) chosen to be one of those.  Here’s Travel Oregon’s video about the Wallowas.  She’s not named, but our friend Alice is the rider seen in the footage:

Great teaser footage for the town of Joseph Oregon too!  The featured brewery is our own Mutiny Brewing Company (great beer in a lovely summer outdoor setting looking at these same mountains).  Alice rides the Wallowa Lake Tramway to the top of Mount Howard (wonder if she fed the squirrels while she was there?).  And the vista shot at the end?  Looks to me like the Hat Point Overlook of Hells Canyon.

Blue Camas flowers in Spring on The Zumwalt Prairie of Wallowa County Eastern Oregon

Blue Camas flowers in Spring on the Zumwalt Prairie of Wallowa County Eastern Oregon

All this and a whole lot more that didn’t make the video.  If you need a little help with your trip planning, give us a call here at our Eastern Oregon Bed and Breakfast and we’ll be happy to help you out.

That’s what a teaser is all about–there’s just enough in the video to get your travel juices flowing.  Time to start planning for that summertime Eastern Oregon Vacation!

Hi, I’m Heather!

Heather Tyreman owner of the Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast in Joseph Oregon sitting in a coffee shop and smiling for the camera phone.

Heather Tyreman owner of the Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast in Joseph Oregon

My name is Heather Tyreman. My husband and I are the innkeepers of the Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast here in Joseph Oregon near the shores of Wallowa Lake.  We purchased this Craftsman bungalow in 2000, spent 9 months remodeling, and opened our retirement dream job in June 2001 on Main Street.  And it has been and continues to be a lot of fun!  We enjoy meeting new people, introducing them to our beautiful Wallowa Valley, providing them the best hospitality experience we can, and watch them relax as they slow down to their Eastern Oregon vacation pace.

When I’m not busy with our Joseph Oregon lodging, you’ll find me outside working in the perennial gardens or on my way to rehearsals and performances with regional music groups.  I play oboe and English Horn with the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra, the Oregon East Symphony, Wallowa Valley Orchestra, and smaller ensembles when we can put them together.  The musical life in Eastern Oregon can be challenging but definitely worth it.

In this blog I highlight local events and information as well as stories about our Joseph Oregon bed and breakfast.  I hope you’ll come back often to read the latest–and either come see us in person or enjoy your vicarious Joseph Oregon vacation.

Reserve Your Summer Fishtrap 2014 Rooms and Lodging Right Here Right Now

Summer Fishtrap 2014 at Wallowa Lake Oregon postcard imageAre you attending Summer Fishtrap 2014 at Wallowa Lake, Oregon?  Still trying to decide where in Eastern Oregon to stay for the week?  If you don’t want to stay “on campus” in one of the yurts or in the bunkhouse at the Wallowa Lake Camp and Retreat Center (affectionately known to longtime Fishtrappers as the “Methodist Camp”) and you’re used to staying in nicer bed and breakfasts or hotels when you travel, then allow us to propose a stay at the Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast nearby in Joseph Oregon.

The writers conference Summer Fishtrap 2014 starts on the afternoon of Monday, July 7th, and concludes at brunch on Sunday, July 13th.  As of today, February 12, 2014, we still have two guestrooms and our fabulous Mirror Lake Suite available for a 6-night stay (nights of July 7-12, 2014, departing on July 13, the closing day of Summer Fishtrap 2014).  What can that mean for you as a Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers attendee?  A really comfortable, air-conditioned, private place to stay at good price.  And we can offer you a without breakfast option in case you’d prefer to take your breakfast meals at the Wallowa Lake Camp.  And since we’re rated 3-Diamonds by AAA, we also offer a 10% discount to current AAA members.  What’s not to like?

For example, these are the prices for lodging and meals during Summer Fishtrap 2014 (taken from the Summer Fishtrap 2014 brochure):

  • Summer Fishtrap 2014 one-bedroom deluxe yurt (includes private bath): $795 per cabin
  • Summer Fishtrap 2014 two-bedroom deluxe yurt (includes shared bath): $595 per bedroom
  • Summer Fishtrap 2014 bunkhouse (bring your own bedding, bath house nearby): $130 per person
  • Summer Fishtrap 2014 Lunch only package (Tuesday through Saturday): $60 per person
  • Summer Fishtrap 2014 Lunch & Dinner package (Tuesday through Saturday): $160 per person
  • Summer Fishtrap 2014 All Meals package (Monday dinner through Sunday brunch): $225 per person

Here are options at the Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast (full price quotes with lodging taxes included) in our Ferguson Ridge Room (other currently available guestrooms are higher):

  • Single occupancy with breakfast: $840.56
  • Single occupancy without breakfast: $775.16
  • Single occupancy with breakfast and 10% AAA membership discount: $756.44
  • Double occupancy with breakfast: $943.60
  • Double occupancy without breakfast: $812.80
  • Double occupancy with breakfast and 10% AAA membership discount: $849.26

Garden scene at the Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast in Joseph Oregon with bench and bottle of wine and wine glass near the bocce courtIt’s true there are some conveniences to staying at the Wallowa Lake Camp.  You’re right there and don’t need to drive home once the evening open-mic session is over.  You’re in the middle of the action.  You’re close to the Bailey Lodge dining hall where meals are served cafeteria style.

But, we’re only 10 minutes away by car at the other end of Wallowa Lake.  You’re in your own space with your own attached private bathroom, with or without your traveling companion (if you have one). Your room is comfortably air-conditioned to your liking  Your breakfast, if you choose to have breakfast, is served in our dining room plated and accompanied by your choice of fruit juices and hot beverages.  And we do our best to accommodate special meal requirements (gluten-free, dairy-free, food allergies, etc.)

And if you’re bringing along someone who is not participating in Summer Fishtrap 2014, they’re right here in Joseph to see and do all that the town has to offer in summer (shops, art galleries, foundries, artist tours, or just hanging out here on our grounds under the apple tree with the bocce court nearby (see the photo).

There are a limited number of yurts available at the Wallowa Lake Camp.  If you miss your opportunity to reserve one on February 20, 2014 (the day that online registration opens for Summer Fishtrap 2014), then you might want to consider spending your nights with us here at our (nearly a) Wallowa Lake hotel.

And who knows what summer 2014 will be like?  You might be very glad you have air-conditioning!

Don’t forget:  Summer Fishtrap 2014 online registration opens on February 20, 2014, at 9 am Pacific Time!

Winter Things to do Near Joseph Oregon: Visit the Zumwalt Prairie

When most of our guests visit The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve here in Wallowa County, they do it in the spring and summer to see the wildflowers and (hopefully) the raptors, deer, elk, and other wildlife that populate the prairie in warmer times of year.  It’s a very photogenic place.

Bill on The Nature Conservancy Zumwalt Prairie Preserve in December 2013

Bill on The Nature Conservancy Zumwalt Prairie Preserve

The day after Christmas we had no guests in the house, so Bill & I decided to take a drive out to the Zumwalt Prairie to see if we might be able to hike one of The Nature Conservancy’s designated trails.  Fortunately, Patti’s Trail (2.3 miles), one of the public-access areas designated on The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie map, looked to be feasible given the time of day, the temperature, snow pack, etc.  We were hoping to see some of the elk population now that the rut is over.

It turned out to be a beautiful day for a hike for these two bed and breakfast innkeepers, though nary an elk showed its shaggy cape.  And the birds were few and far between although there was a hawk that led us from fence post to fence post.

But it was quiet, other than the constant breeze coming from the south, and it was very sunny.  We’d taken the snowshoes along but didn’t need them on Patti’s Trail–just enough snow to need boots or Bogs.

The drive from our Joseph Oregon lodging can be a little harrowing in winter compared to summer.  Guests with trucks or higher-clearance all-wheel drive vehicles will most likely be fine.  Most of the Zumwalt Road is not paved and, like many rural Oregon locations, is something to be undertaken with plenty of respect for the conditions.

Here at our Joseph Oregon bed and breakfast we keep maps, binoculars, etc., to help our guests enjoy the surroundings.  Hope to see you sometime in the winter!

 

No Joseph Oregon Car Show in June 2014

Oregon Mountain Cruise in Joseph Oregon is the second weekend in June

Oregon Mountain Cruise in Joseph Oregon is the second weekend in June

News flash!  We just learned yesterday that the popular Oregon Mountain Cruise classic car show in Joseph Oregon will take a break for June 2014.  This particular event is one of the big kickoff weekends of summer since it holds the 2nd weekend of June slot right after the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts

From the cruise’s website:

It’s been 25 years since a group of family & friends from all over the northwest joined together to organize and host the “Oregon Mtn. Cruise Car Show” in Joseph, Oregon.  We regret to inform all our cruisers that after 25 years, we have decided to take the year off in 2014 to re-group, re-energize, re-organize and for some much needed rest.  WE WILL BE BACK JUNE 12-13, 2015.  Have a great summer and hope to see you in Joseph, Oregon in 2015.

Living in a remote area like Wallowa County Oregon means that we live in an absolutely beautiful place, but it also means that there aren’t all that many people here to volunteer for the many events that take place during the summer months.  We’re glad that the Joseph Oregon Car Show organizers got the word out so early about their change in plans so the rest of us can plan accordingly. For those of you planning your 2014 Eastern Oregon vacation you’ll just have to plan for another area car show instead.

And for our Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast guests who booked their guestrooms for June 2014 around this event, please contact us (if we haven’t yet contacted you) so we can make adjustments to your reservations.  Our phone: 541-432-0230.

The silver lining to all of this?  We know, just like the Bronze, Blues & Brews festival every year in August that took a one-year break a few years ago, that the Oregon Mountain Cruise will come back bigger and better than it was in the past!

Good looking athletic sled dogs in Oregon

Sol Neelman photo for Portland Monthly Magazine Dog Stars of the Eagle Cap Extreme

Sol Neelman photo for Portland Monthly Magazine “Dog Stars of the Eagle Cap Extreme”

Wow!  The Portland Monthly Magazine is featuring an article this month on the “Dog Stars of the Eagle Cap Extreme” and what a good looking bunch of athletes they are.  Of course, these are photos of the dogs from the January 2013 event–many of whom will be back for 2014.  The next Eagle Cap Extreme, Oregon’s only qualifying sled dog race for both the Alaskan Iditarod and Yukon Quest, will take place in January 2014.

But these dog photos (and the people and scenery in them too) are wonderful.  Sol Neelman, weird sports photographer turned canine image capturer for this shoot–really caught the essence of what it’s like to be out on the trail in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the middle of snow.  Are we biased?  Probably so as we had the opportunity to speak with Sol around his photo shoot in Joseph Oregon.

If you’re planning to attend the Eagle Cap Extreme in 2014, better line up your lodging soonest as we have very little opportunities left at our Joseph bed and breakfast.  And we’re centrally located and walking distance to Race Central.  The 2014 event dates are January 22th through 25th with the teams starting on Thursday and Friday early afternoons and returning Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon (depending upon the race).

Our bed and breakfast cat, Madigan, has been known to review the Eagle Cap Extreme. Of course she’s biased too–and plans to spend the 2014 event asleep on our bed (though she might wake up during the Vet Checks on Wednesday when all those dogs are barking on Main Street).

And there’s the banquet dinner on Saturday night at the Joseph Community Center with awards, great food and “Tales from the Trail”.  You can learn more about the schedule of events on the Eagle Cap Extreme website.  All events are free and open to the public except the banquet (tickets available at Race Central in Joseph Oregon).  Find your Joseph Oregon lodging and book early!  If you’re a dog lover this is an event you won’t want to miss!

Uphill Skiing Anyone? Or Ski Mountaineering in Eastern Oregon?

Shrink wrapped smoked chicken

Shrink-wrapped smoked chicken from Mt Joseph Family Foods in Joseph, Oregon

Wall Street Journal writer Tess Weaver recently wrote about ski mountaineering for the Wall Street Journal (published February 27, 2013), noting that skiing uphill is gaining in popularity around the United States and might even make the 2022 Winter Olympics.

You can find plenty of that kind of activity out here near Joseph Oregon.  And you won’t have to worry about purchasing a lift ticket or competing with downhill resort skiers.  The Wallowa Mountains are a tucked away corner of Oregon with no organized ski resort (although the local hill, Ferguson Ridge, does attract a mainly local crowd) and plenty of backcountry skiing conditions.

We recently hosted a group of Portland Oregon skiers who used our Joseph Oregon lodging as their jumping off point for a multi-day ski trip.  They arrived late, but got a very good night’s rest, a hearty breakfast, and time to shop for some local essentials before heading out to McCully Basin to build their snow cave for the next few nights of lodging.  There’s nothing like a smoked “flat” chicken from our local grocer, Mt. Joseph Family Foods, at the end of a long day of uphill skiing!

If you do want to take on the rugged Wallowa Mountains, we suggest you spend some time with the Wallowa Avalanche Center’s website and study the snow conditions.  As one person who commented on Tess Weaver’s article said, “In Italy “sci alpinismo” as the sport is called here is widely practiced, but not on crowded downhill slopes! The biggest attraction is the opportunity to enjoy pristine alpine scenery alone or with a few friends and be able to experience a more challenging deep powder snow descent off groomed trails. Understanding and managing avalanche risk is a key requirement to enjoy the sport safely. Mountaineering training is required and it is not advisable to just buy the equipment and take off no matter how good your athletic ability.”  Definitely true here in the Wallowas as well.

Hells Canyon Scenic Byway: A Video You Won’t Want to Miss

Never traveled on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway?  Here’s a really good taste of what you can experience.  The Oregon Department of Transportation film crew came through a little while ago and shot a lot of footage to create this comprehensive video about the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway.  What’s nice about this particular video is you’ll see the byway in all seasons.

It’s a little bit lengthy at 8 minutes, but it really takes that long to see the scenery and some of the sights along the way.  I’m thrilled they included a scene from the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts (3:58), our juried fine art show that takes place every first weekend of June here in Joseph Oregon.  And there are scenes from Hells Canyon Mule Days (3:04) that takes place every weekend after Labor Day in September in Enterprise Oregon (the weekend after the first Monday of September).  You’ll even have quick view of one of your Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast innkeepers in the introduction (0:57)–it’s amazing what sorts of things I get roped into doing for our area!

Harle Butte Lookout is one of the historic lookouts a bit off the beaten path

Harle Butte Lookout is one of the historic lookouts a bit off the beaten path

You’ll find other posts on our Bronze Antler blog about things you can see along the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway–just look for the “Hells Canyon” (without the quotes) category in the margin around the blog and a list of Hells Canyon-related blog posts will appear.  This image is of Harle Butte, one of the historic staffed fire lookouts along the rim of Hells Canyon.  It’s at the end of a dirt road leading from the byway and a fabulous view (recommended for trucks and other higher clearance vehicles).

Just a reminder:  the center section of the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway (Forest Road 39 or the Wallowa Mountain Loop Road) is seasonal–it usually closes in early November and doesn’t open again until May or June depending upon snowpack.  If you’re planning to drive the entire Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, check in with the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Office at (541) 426-4978 or 426-5546 or by visiting their website

And be sure to call us to see about your Hells Canyon lodging while you’re on your trip.  Our phone is (541) 432-0230 or visit our website for more information.

See you along the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway!