After breaking camp and enjoying a quick breakfast in Joseph, we headed east on route 39, which is the gateway into the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. We were afforded incredible views of Hells Canyon as we slowly descended to Oxbow, a tiny community situated on the Snake River.
Hells Canyon as seen from the top looking east to Idaho
Trust me, the Snake River is down there somewhere!
From there, we connected with State Highway 86 and headed west to Halfway, where we stopped at the city’s only grocery store for a cold drink and a candy bar. Halfway has a population of just over 300 residents, and is most notable for changing its name to Half.com during the dot-com boom in the late 1990's. It is often assumed that the city of Halfway is in the middle of the state, but the town is actually located less than one half-hour from the Idaho border. So much for the lesson on geography and trivia!
Our next stop was at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, which is located just five miles east of Baker City. If you ever pass through the Bake City area, plan to spend an hour at the interpretive center. The center is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and it tells the story of westward migration during the 1880s. The Oregon Tail originally began as a series of unconnected trails used by the Native Americans and later expanded by American fur traders. The trail began outside of Independence, Missouri and proceeded west to present day Oregon City, which is located in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The journey from Missouri began in the early spring and if you survived the trail’s perils, you would reach your destination by early fall. To the center’s credit, they also tell how westward migration affected the lives of the Native Americans who lived along the trail’s route.
The arrow points to spot where the trail passed just outside of present day Baker City
Dale trying out for the part of wagon master
After a quick lunch in Baker City, we continued southeast along highway 7 with our sights set for the beautiful community of John Day and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. I will share about these locations in the final installment, Part III.