Unless there is a snow storm or blowing snow, there is never a problem driving from La Grande to Joseph, even in the winter.Edited: 5:48 pm, March 04, 2010
Will come back down to La Grande again. Just want to go up for an afternoon drive unless there is somewhere there we can spend one night that is quite reasonable.
Instead of retracing your steps, you might want to take this drive (highly recommended):
It will take you to route 86 which will take you back to the Interstate near Baker City. If you take this highway you will pass by the Oregon Trail Interpretive center which you might want to visit:
Had heard of the Scenicbyway but thought it might not be too good a road. also going 6th June or there abouts & thinking it might be closed due to weather. How long would it take us to drive this route? Are the gradients steep going to Joseph from La Grande & steep coming out via the Scenicbyway?
The only driving that some might consider challenging is the Scenic Byway. It's usually open in May. Snow has been light this winter so this year should not be an exception. It's a very popular route for motorcyclists and even bicyclists, so it's not that difficult for a car. It's about 60 miles, so it takes less than two hours to drive if you don't stop to view the scenery. Of course, you probably will stop.
In my opinion, to drive all the way to Joseph and NOT take the Scenic Byway makes no sense.
In fact, once you get to route 86, you should turn left and drive into Hells Canyon and maybe even take a jet boat ride.
Sounds good, hopefully weather will be ok & we will get to Joseph & then the Scenicbyway. Not sure we will have time for a boat ride (loved the photos). This stop has come about as my husband is reading a book that mentions the area, we had been going to stop in Boise for the night, will now stop in Joseph. We do intend doing the Tramway up Mt Howard & maybe a short hike.
Seems like we won't loose any driving time either.
You'll find Joseph and its sculptures to be quite unique and enjoyable. You will have time at the top of the tram ride to do a little hiking on the trail loops and grab a bit at the cafe. It might take you a few minutes to adjust to the altitude, but just go easy at first and all will be just fine. Fantastic vistas.
Thanks everyone for their advice.
One more question how long will it take to drive to Baker City using the Scenic Byway, Google says ove 4 hrs to do 124 mls!
OR Hwy 82 between LaGrande & Joseph is the major thoroughfare for Wallowa County residents and is open year around except for temporary closures in the height of a snowstorm. It's about 73 miles from LaGrande to Joseph and most of that is marked 55 mph. For a more interesting drive coming from Seattle, you might consider turning north in Pendleton, OR, to Weston, OR, then take OR Hwy 204 from Weston to Elgin, OR. In Elgin, you'll join Hwy 82 for the remaining drive into Joseph. This route takes you through the Umatilla National Forest and over Tollgate pass. This is another all-weather road that is open except in extreme winter. Enjoy your trip! By the way, the second weekend of June is the Oregon Mountain Cruise Classic Car Show in Joseph.