Halfway Autumn Colors by Timothy Bishop

Fall has arrived along the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway! After a hot and dry summer, the autumn overcast and bluster is a welcome change, although we are adjusting to that nip in the air. The first traces of snow have dusted the high peaks and the amber and rusty colors of fall are appearing in the shrubs and deciduous trees. Soon, the aspen and cottonwoods will turn bright yellow, followed by the tamarack in the mountains. I have my favorite maple trees and sumacs that I always watch for this time of year. Fall is so wonderfully colorful and scenic in northeast Oregon! It’s a terrific time to tour, but bring your gloves and a jacket.

Hells Canyon Byway Country has lots of ways to warm up after a hike in the woods or a bike ride. Head to one of our many coffee shops or pull into the drive-through at any of the numerous espresso stands. They all have goodies to go, as well. My favorite coffee stop? Well, I just don’t drive through Joseph very often without stopping for a coffee and delicious confection at Arrowhead Chocolates, made right before your eyes! And, of course, I always come out with a few amazing pieces to go or share. At the other end of the byway, the freshly made chocolates at Peterson Gallery & Chocolatier on Baker City’s Main Street have a very high “Yum!” factor. And you get to enjoy viewing the art on display, too. Or, head down the street to Bella and sip your rich cup of coffee while browsing the delightful array of kitchen gadgets, wine, linens and gourmet foods. You’ll also find a Bella in downtown La Grande. Specialty shops throughout the byway are stocked up for the holiday season. It’s a great time to shop around and take home something special.

The last type of treat this time of year is the four-legged kind. Elk and deer are coming down from the high country and seeking out the valley meadows and cropland residuals. Keep your eyes pealed and your camera handy as you drive along. It is always such a gift to see these magnificent creatures. Do be careful on the highways, especially at dusk, and watch the sides of the road for wildlife waiting to cross. Happy travels!

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