NF-39 to the Wallowa Mountains
From our campsite we drove NF-39 to the Hell’s Canyon overlook. This canyon is often compared to the Grand Canyon, but there are so many differences. The Grand Canyon is so much more rugged and colorful. There is a softness to Hell’s Canyon and it’s green – at least at this time of the year. From the overlook we could see the entire canyon, but could not see the bottom where the reservoir and river are. Lots of wild flowers at the lookout — lupine, beardtongues, calendula, some by-gone salsify, and something that looked like a variety of Indian paintbrush.
We noted many dispersed campsites on the road to the overlook, but we were just beginning our day, not looking for a place for the night.
Soon we were approaching the Wallowa Mountains in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The mountains are snow capped and rise out of a vast flat area full of green fields and grazing horses and cattle. It was reminiscent of the Alpine meadows of Switzerland.
We reached the town of a Joseph where we turned south to Wallowa Lake. The town is clearly a tourist destination full of restaurants and boutiques — though I didn’t see a fudge shop. The town is quite beautiful with lots of flowers in bloom — poppies, iris, lilacs, mock orange, and many flowering trees as well as the first deciduous trees, except aspen, we have seen since Bend.
We enjoyed the drive south to the state park at the end of the lake with many views of the mountain reflected in the lake. The state park was very crowded and it was not clear if there were going to be any spaces available plus we weren’t sure we really wanted to stay there. Too many people, too little space. We took advantage of their dump, recycling, and trash and headed back north to Joseph and Enterprise.
In Enterprise we purchased fuel, then headed west to Lostine. From Lostine we entered the National Forest . On the road south were multiple National Forest campgrounds ($5.00) and several dispersed sites (free). We selected a dispersed site with views of the Lostine Creek about 30 feet below. David elected to cook dinner over a fire as there was plenty of dry wood — steak, potatoes, corn on the cob, onions, and salad.
Once again as we ate dinner Gray clouds moved in and it rained overnight.