The Baker City Herald announced Monday, May 20, Forest Road 39 is open for the season. The road, also known as the Wallowa Mountain Loop, connects the southern leg of the byway (OR 86), including Baker City, Richland, Halfway and the Snake River parks and dams, with the northern segment: La Grande, Elgin, Enterprise, Joseph and Wallowa Lake (OR 82). The paved, two-lane FS 39 road makes it possible to drive the Hells Canyon National Scenic Byway as a loop, leaving the freeway at either La Grande or Baker City, and reconnecting with the freeway again at the opposite end of the byway.
The paved, two-lane road, is typically blocked by snow until late May or early June. Due to an unusually warm and dry spring, many forest roads are open earlier than usual this year. Forest Service officials encourage drivers to be careful and watch for rocks and other debris in the roadway. Maintenance crews are removing rocks and debris, which could cause delays of five to 15 minutes.
Following tumbling streams, the FS 39 road climbs into the mountains, winding through the forest and providing access to magnificent vistas of canyons and alpine peaks before dropping back down to the valley floors. For more information on roads, trails and campgrounds within the Wallowa Whitman National Forest and the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, please visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/wallowa-whitman/. You can also follow the forest on twitter at: @WallowaWhitman.