Seventy-nine miles on paved Highway 86; allow 1 1/2 hours for travel and 1-2 hours at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and other stops.
Pastoral views and mining history are highlights of this Byway segment. Gold strikes brought the first settlers here in the late 1800s. Mines employed large numbers of people, including many Chinese laborers. Further along the route follow the Powder River up stream through rolling sagebrush-covered plateaus. Oregon Trail routes cross your path. Virtue Flat, near Baker City, is the site of a popular off-highway vehicle trail complex.
Est. 1909; pop. 333; elev. 2,663′.
Lodging, restaurants, groceries & gas. (If traveling Baker-La Grande–last gas until Joseph)
Halfway earned its name as the midway point between the town of Pine and the gold mines of Cornucopia. Gateway to wilderness and river-based recreation in summer, Halfway is a popular winter destination for snowmobilers. A vast network of groomed trails connects hundreds of miles of scenic back country. On Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday weekend, take part in a Snow Festival. As you leave Halfway, watch for the marker for the Tim Goodall Wagon Train route of 1862 and the Visitor Information Kiosk near mile post #52. The USFS Pine District office provides additional information.
Est. 1917; pop. 175; elev. 2,213′.
Lodging, cafes, groceries & gas.
Named in 1897 for the rich soil settlers found here, the area still supports farmers and ranchers and now hosts the fishing and boating enthusiasts who recreate on nearby Brownlee and Oxbow reservoirs. Look for the Hole-in-the-Wall Landslide, between mile posts #30 & #31. The 1984 landslide covered the road and temporarily dammed the Powder River.
Flagstaff Hill, 5 miles east of I-84 on Highway 86.
Stand for a moment in history. Marvel at the courage and hardships of pioneers on their 2,000 mile trek to the promised land of Oregon’s Willamette valley, still 300 miles away. The BLM-managed center offers extensive interactive exhibits and dioramas, seasonal living history performances, and interpretive/educational programs in an indoor theater. Themes include the explorers, mining and settlement history. Open daily 9 – 4 winter, 9 – 6 summer.
Est. 1874; pop. 9450; elev. 3,499′.
Restaurants, lodging, groceries & gas.
Known early on as the “Queen City of the Mines,” Baker City sits along the Powder River between the dramatic Elkhorn Ridge of the Blue Mountains and the Wallowa Mountains. Turn-of-the century Victorian architecture dominates the commercial and residential buildings of the city’s downtown, earning it distinction as a National Historic District. Many buildings have been carefully restored, including the famous Geiser Grand Hotel. The Oregon Trail Regional Museum highlights the area’s history and houses a fantastic rocks and minerals collection. The Adler House Museum preserves the furnishings and ambience of an early businessman and community philanthropist.