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Summer Things To Do List No 1 in Joseph Oregon

Dennis and Janice Gillies enjoying a trip on the Joseph Railriders. All Aboard!

Dennis and Janice Gillies enjoying a trip on the Joseph Railriders. All Aboard!

 

Summer 2015 is upon us and the Joseph Branch Railriders is having a great season. This is one of the newest activities to do in Joseph, Oregon–ride the rails of the Joseph Branch between the towns of Joseph and Enterprise on specially made railrider vehicles. They’re kind of like side-by-side recumbent bicycles. Our guests Dennis and Janice took the 12-mile round trip ride on a railrider on a Saturday morning and came back beaming from the trip. They’re very active people and brought their kayaks to town for a spin around Wallowa Lake, but also wanted to be sure and ride the Railriders while they were visiting Joseph and Wallowa County. They reported that the route to Enterprise was really easy and they could coast a good part of the way (it is slightly downhill). The trip back from Enterprise to Joseph was a slight bit of a challenge (average 1.5% grade), but their railrider guide was there with a powered railrider vehicle to give them a push back into Joseph if they needed it.

For summer 2015, the Joseph Branch Railriders are open for tours Fridays through Mondays. You can walk up to their office at 304 North Main Street here in Joseph, Oregon, to make an appointment (just next to Red Horse Coffee Traders), or call in advance to make reservation arrangements. The tours start a 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. The phone is 541-910-0089 or 541-910-0891. You can bring your own bike helmets like Dennis and Janice did, or the office will supply you with some.

A photo from Dennis and Janice Gillies on the Joseph Railrider June 2015. The path leads through farmland and pastures of Wallowa County.

A photo from Dennis and Janice Gillies on the Joseph Railrider June 2015. The path leads through farmland and pastures of Wallowa County.

 

Janice commented over breakfast that a trip on the Joseph Branch Railriders was one of the best attractions she’s done for $20 per person.

On the Railrider website and on the Bicycling and Motorcycling page of the Bronze Antler B&B website you’ll find the Oregon Field Guide video about the Joseph Branch Railriders. It definitely looks like a lot of fun and we’ve had guests in varying degrees of fitness enjoy a trip on the rails.

If you’re wanting more of an all-day adventure, for 2015 the Joseph Branch Railriders is introducing an all-day trip from Minam (the place where Oregon Highway 82 crosses the confluence of the Minam River and Wallowa River) up to the town of Wallowa. Riders depart from Minam at 9 a.m. and must return to the same location by 4 p.m.  This journey is size limited to 12 guests and costs $45 per person. Part of the rail line journeys along the Wallowa River, then breaks into the open pastures and fields on the way to town. One of the appealing things about this route is that the ride along the Wallowa River is on the opposite side of the river from the automobile traffic on Highway 82. We’ve yet to have any guests take on this adventure and are looking forward to someone doing so and filling us in on the details at breakfast.

Hope to see you on the Joseph Branch Railriders soon, and thanks to Dennis and Janice for their photographs!

Hells Canyon Scenic Byway between Joseph Oregon and Hells Canyon 2015

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UPDATED ON June 29, 2015: It’s that time of year again when our bed and breakfast guests ask, “Is the road open between Joseph and Halfway?” The answer for Summer and Fall 2015 is both yes and no because there is road construction on a portion of the road. There is also a construction bypass that, as of June 10, 2015, is clear of snow and open for cars (not recommended for motorhomes). However, as of June 29th, this hypass is no longer absolutely necessary. Let’s break it down into smaller questions:

  • Can I get from Joseph to the Hells Canyon Overlook? Yes. The paved road is open and access isn’t affected by the construction on Forest Service Road 39.
  • When can I drive past the Hells Canyon Overlook and continue towards Copperfield/Oxbow and Halfway on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway? UPDATED INFORMATION: As of June 29 through October 15, 2015, the road will be open; however, travelers should expect up to one-hour delays. There is no longer a need to detour around the construction (see next question) unless you prefer a more scenic (and longer) gravel route.
  • What about the detour to avoid the construction zone? The detour is a well-maintained, 30 mile long, gravel road called Forest Service Road 66, and connects FSR 39 with the town of Halfway (located on OR Highway 86) via Baker County Road 999. Depending on what map you’re using, this road is also known as “Duck Creek Road”, “Fish Lake Road”, “Twin Lakes Road” or “Clear Creek Road” (no wonder people get lost in Oregon!) The road is suitable for vehicles pulling trailers, but not recommended for motorhomes.
  • When can I drive to Hat Point Lookout? The paved road from Joseph to Imnaha (OR Highway 350) connects to the 26-mile gravel Hat Point Road and neither one is affected by the construction. In 2015, the gravel road was freshly graded and our bed & breakfast guests have reported the road is in great condition. It is not recommended for motorcycles unless they are off-road bikes. However, the drive to Imnaha is paved and worth the trip to the Imnaha Tavern.
  • If I want to take a jetboat trip with Hells Canyon Adventures, will I be affected by the road construction? Perhaps, depending upon how you plan to get to the launch site at the Hells Canyon Dam. If you plan to travel from Joseph to the Hells Canyon Dam, then yes you will. If you plan to travel from Baker City, Oregon, or anywhere in Idaho, then you will not be affected.
  • Is there any gasoline along the way? No. The last gas stations are in Joseph and in Copperfield/Oxbow and in Halfway. Note that these are not 24-hour gas stations and, because they are in rural locations, close fairly early in the evenings.
  • Is there cellphone service along the way? Pretty much no.
  • Where can I see a map that explains all of this? The best map we’ve found is a two-page PDF file available from the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce. Please click on the link: Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce FSR39 map to view the map. It is oversized and probably won’t print properly on 8 1/2″ x 11″ (letter-sized) paper, but you can download it to your computer or digital device for easy reference.
  • Who can I call for more information? Monday through Friday during working hours, contact the Forest Service Wallowa Mountains Office at 541-426-5546 or Pine Field Office at 541-742-7511.

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!

Winter Things to do Near Joseph Oregon: Ice Skating

Enterprise Oregon Ice Rink

Enterprise Oregon Ice Rink

We just love winter in the Wallowas!  And the Wallowa Valley Community Ice Rink, an outdoor ice rink in nearby Enterprise, is a fun diversion.

Enterprise is only 6 miles away from Joseph Oregon along Highway 82 and the Ice Rink is at the north end of the City Park, just two blocks off of the highway (signs are posted or you can find a map on the Rink’s website).  The rink is available for free skating plus there are pickup hockey games and even assigned time for hockey and for broomball.  The rink is open 9 am to 9 pm daily, weather permitting, with lots of opportunity for free skating time.

The rink is also home to the Baja Canada Hockey League, a group that current features two teams, the Eh’s? and the Ruby Peaks. (You’ve got to have a little bit of Wallowa County humor in the middle of all this).

Because this is an outdoor ice rink staffed by volunteers (and one paid staff person) it’s always good to check the schedule as well as call the ice rink’s recorded line at 541-263-0715 for current conditions.  If you don’t own ice skates no worries–skates can be rented Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 6 pm at Treasures, a local shop in Enterprise (541-426-3873).

If need to know the operating rules of the Enterprise Ice Rink, I was by there today and photographed the locally posted sign.  Keep in mind that the phone number for more information is 541-263-0715:

Enterprise Oregon Ice Rink Sign

Rules of the Rink

 

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!