Road Conditions

This page will keep you informed of byway road conditions related to weather, construction projects or other human-caused activities. For additional road conditions, please go to or for the most up-to-date information. 


Announcement – FS 39 is OPEN for all vehicles for the season

The Forest Service Road 39 is OPEN to passenger vehicles, as of June 1, 2024. Please continue to drive with caution throughout the season, as there may be livestock or wildlife on the right of way and some sections are narrow. The entire FS39 is paved, including the two-mile side trip to the amazing views from the Hells Canyon Overlook.

Be aware that the road requires caution, especially around curves, due to debris, such as rocks and sticks, in the road early in the season. The road is paved throughout (including the two-mile side trip to the Hells Canyon Overlook you won’t want to miss), but some sections have potholes – so, another reason for taking the loop slowly, in addition to enjoying the scenery. Motorcyclists, please use extra caution and drive slowly to watch for potholes and over cattle guards on the road to the Hells Canyon Overlook. We have been told it is a rough crossing.

To get information about recreation on the Wallowa Whitman National Forest, go the website, And stop by the ranger district office at Halfway or Joseph for the very latest on the condition of trails, campgrounds and backroads, as it is still early for the highest elevations.

I always recommend taking the side trip down to the Hells Canyon Dam below Copperfield – go to the Snake River for this before you head out on the FS 39 road – so you can see the depth of the canyon from riverside. There is also a small interpretive center there with information about the geology and history of the canyon. Then when you hit the 39 road, you will be seeing the canyon lands from above. The most amazing view is from Hat Point Lookout, which is another side trip taking a gravel road up from Imnaha – if early in the season, check with a Forest Service Ranger District office to see if the road is open. From Hat Point, you gaze a mile down to the river and across the canyon to the Seven Devils on the Idaho side.

And last, I also always recommend the Wallowa Lake Tramway, which takes you right up into the peaks of the amazing Wallowa Mountains. Just telling you about these favorites makes me anxious to do the same! 😊

Stop by the visitor center in Baker City, Enterprise or La Grande, and we will load you up with maps and first-hand information about recreation and sightseeing throughout the byway and region. Ask for the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway brochure for sightseeing and visitor services information and for the new Hells Canyon Country Recreation Map. Enjoy your travels in our beautiful corner of Oregon!



Throughout winter and spring, because of heavy snow accumulations in the mountain pass. Due to high elevations, the road is not maintained by the Wallowa Whitman National Forest for passenger vehicle or truck travel through winter. It is ONLY available to snowmobiles from November through around Memorial Day Weekend. This is the section of mountain road that connects Halfway, the Snake River and Pine Valley with Joseph, Enterprise, Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa Valley.

Although the FS 39 road closes through winter every year, all COMMUNITIES along the byway are OPEN YEAR-ROUND for business and can be accessed by Oregon State Route 82 to Joseph, via La Grande, and Oregon State Route 86 to Halfway, via Baker City. Enjoy dramatic landscapes, beautiful scenery and byway hospitality any time of year, but stay safe and do not use FS Road 39 until it’s opening is announced late in the spring!


All seasons, slow down and watch carefully for branches, rocks and potholes. Also watch for hazards such as speeding vehicles and larger vehicles taking wide corners.  Although it is a paved, two-lane highway, it is a backroad through a forested area and anything can happen at any time. Always use caution and be aware that cell phone service is often not available, so getting assistance can be daunting. Be prepared – fill your tank before setting out (Joseph and Halfway have fuel stations) and carry drinking water, snacks and jackets for changes in the weather. Forest Service campgrounds may not be open and serviced until mid-June.

Be sure to also watch for livestock along all sections of the byway. Ranchers turn their cattle out to summer grazing and cattle have the right-of-way in Oregon, so may be on the road in remote places that aren’t fenced or where fences haven’t yet been fixed after the impacts of winter. Cattle drives take place on byway roads, as well. When encountering a cattle drive, please slow down and be extra cautious. Cattle, calves, horses and dogs can be very unpredictable around vehicles, especially when stressed. Honking the horn won’t help and can cause an accident. Watch for signals from people tending the livestock, as they will help you navigate through the herd, whether you are traveling with or against the flow of animals. We appreciate your patience and hope you will enjoy this enduring and necessary spectacle of the West.


Announcement – Wallowa-Whitman National Forest

During the fire season, please check for details on fire activity in Northeast Oregon at the Blue Mountain Fire Information blog. More information on the Public Use Restrictions can be found at:

Please be aware of the extreme hazard for wild fires late summer through early fall. Vehicles can start fires simply by parking off pavement or gravel, where hot equipment comes into contact with the dry grass and weeds. Be very cautious and follow these restrictions with care:

Phase C (indicators are Adjective fire danger rating of Extreme; IFPL level IV)
1. Campfires not allowed. Liquid and bottle gas stoves only.
2. No internal combustions engine operation, except motor vehicles.
3. Smoking allowed only in enclosed vehicles and buildings, developed recreation sites, or cleared areas.
4. No off-road/off-trail vehicle travel or travel on roads not cleared of standing grass or other flammable material; no vehicle travel on those FS roads where access has been impeded or blocked by earthen berm, logs, boulders, barrier, barricade or gate, or as otherwise identified in the Fire Order.