Hat Point Overlook

Hat Point Overlook, Imnaha: Address, Hat Point Overlook Reviews: 5/5

Hat Point Overlook
The area
Hat Point Road Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Imnaha, OR 97842

10 reviews
Very good

Emily B.
Marietta, GA25 contributions
Totally worth it!
Jun 2021
I'm writing this review so that other people wanting to visit Hat Point in early June can hear our experience. I looked everywhere prior to our visit and couldn't find ANY updated road conditions. Every website said the road normally opened in July so I started to lose hope that we could even go. We ended up calling the Forest Service office in Joseph and the woman only had a week-old update for us, saying that there was snow 1.5 miles from Hat Point, but because of high temperatures it could be melted by the time we went. Based on that information, we decided to risk it and I'm glad we did (because the snow HAD melted a lot in a week!). Obviously the weather will be different every year, but don't be scared to call and ask about conditions if you can't find them online.

We spent a week in the Joseph/Wallowa Lake area and the drive to Hat Point was on the top of our list. We went the first week of June and were able to get 1/2 a mile away from Hat Point before having to park and walk due to snow. We were in a 2WD Toyota Tacoma and my husband didn't want to risk it since the snow was on a hill around a curve and we couldn't see how far in it went. We parked in a pull-off area and once we started walking on the snow, we were pleasantly surprised (and kind of frustrated) to see that the snow was only in a short "shaded" stretch of the road. Once we passed this area, it was clear the rest of the way. Just that little tiny area of snow would deter most people from continuing! I didn't mind the 1/2 mile hike...especially since we drove all the way up there and I was NOT going to miss out! It was kind of eerie once we got to Hat Point because we were the only people there! We are normally very good about having bear spray but we didn't have any with us because we honestly didn't plan on hiking or being alone, so we kept clapping and making noise just in case. Luckily the only wildlife we saw was a mountain goat. My husband went halfway up the fire lookout while I stayed at the bottom watching the ground squirrels. Overall, the super long, bumpy ride and the 1/2 mile hike to the end was totally worth it! You can see the Snake River, the Seven Devils Mountains in Idaho, Hells Canyon, AND the Wallowas!

As far as the drive to get there goes...I could see it being scary for someone that is scared of heights. We have driven quite a few “scary” Colorado roads but this road honestly made me a little bit more nervous. We were lucky because we didn't pass anyone until we got closer to Hat Point and the road isn't scary that high up (we only saw 3 other vehicles the entire trip). The first 2-3 miles after Imnaha were the worst (one lane, super bumpy, blind curves, no guardrails, small pull-offs). Fortunately, you can see pretty far ahead so you will know if someone is coming. I can't imagine doing this drive in July when I'm sure it gets busy. After 2-3 miles the road evens out and you drive through forests and open meadows...very interesting and different compared to the first 2-3 miles! Granny Vista Viewpoint has pit toilets and a great view, too. I've read a lot of reviews that say you don't need a high-clearance vehicle, but there is no way I'd want to do this drive in a sedan. If you have 5-6 hours and can muster up the courage to drive along the edge of a mountain for a few miles, do it! You won’t be disappointed!
Written June 7, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Bruce M
McCall, Idaho, United States3 contributions
Hat Point, one of the best views you can find anywhere
Sep 2019
The views are spectacular from beginning to end, valleys, 7 Devils, mountains, Snake River Canyon beautiful all the way.
Written October 8, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Betsy M
8 contributions
Hat point Overlook, Hells Canyon
Jul 2019 • Couples
The Overlook is worth the drive. Except for 2 - 3 miles of it, it is in good shape, gravel. The 2 - 3 miles are on a steep mountainside, narrow road but lots of turnouts and good visibility for oncoming traffic.
You can climb up the lookout tower if the firewatcher is there.
From the Overlook you can see down to the river, the Seven Devil mountains and the Wallowa mountains. Plan on about 4 1/2 hours for the trip.
Written July 20, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Boise, ID3 contributions
Worth the trip! Photos don’t do it justice - must see in person.
Sep 2018 • Solo
This 24 mile (one way) adventure drive is well worth the time if you are experienced driving mountain roads. It is well maintained, but is mostly one lane, with turnouts. You don’t need 4 wheel drive or high clearance. You DO need to know how wide your vehicle is and be comfortable pulling tight to the edge of a road to let someone pass. The road has lot of washboards, so it will be bumpy unless you have something like a Range Rover to smooth the ride. Also, remember to stay on the right side of the road - there are a lot of places where you could suddenly meet an oncoming vehicle.

The views are spectacular in several places, but definitely go all the way to the top. There is an active fire lookout tower there, along with restrooms, benches and picnic tables... and you have a gorgeous view of the Seven Devils Mountains! The Imnaha hills are also visually striking, with their numerous layers of rock outcroppings. There aren’t many overlooks that rival this in the Idaho/OR/WA area. Take your time on this trip, stop often (lots of places to pull over for photos) and enjoy this journey.
Written October 2, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Richland, WA140 contributions
Well worth the harrowing drive on a day with excellent visibility
Sep 2018 • Couples
Took this drive based on the lonely planet book on best ONW road trips, and this side trip to Hat Point must be the highlight. Fabulous views, especially if the fire watcher is present and allows you to the top of the fire tower. Not for the timid driver or low clearance vehicle; 24 mi single tack , gravel road. One way. Allow plenty of time. Next time we visit, we'll have to try the campgrounds nearby.
Written September 2, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Shrewsbury, PA21 contributions
Hat Point and Hells Canyon Overlooks
Jun 2018 • Couples
When we planned our trip to the Northwest, we looked for several lesser visited sites to include on our itinerary while in between National Parks. Somehow, we got wind of Hat Point and Mrs. B and I were immediately smitten.

Before setting out for the overlook, we stopped at the ranger station in Joseph and purchased the road map for $14. It is an excellent map of the entire Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. It was useful for us as we would be exiting in a different direction than the one by which we entered. (I'll probably never use it again, but it makes a nice souvenir.)

Others have commented on the road and have noted that the first seven or eight miles are steep. This is true and it appears that this section of the road is maintained by the county. It was somewhat bumpy, but easily, if slowly, navigated by our rental SUV. After this first section, though, the road is maintained by the forest service. Contrary to my usual experience with forest service roads, the surface actually improved and the final 15 miles were relatively easy to drive despite being unpaved.

Once atop Hat Point, there are picnic tables, an ample parking area, an observation tower and, best of all, views in every direction. The panorama from the observation deck of the tower is a full 360 degrees with the Seven Devils Mountains to the east, the Wallowa Mountains to the west and Hells Canyon in between. It really is a stunning perch.

There are also a number of spots along Hat Point Road itself where one is afforded fine views. We also both enjoyed the various June wildflowers along the way.

After we had completed the Hat Point Road, we turned south and drove along another largely unpaved road which followed the Imnaha River until it connected with Forest road 39. From there, we followed the signs to Hells Canyon Overlook.

The view from Hells Canyon overlook is also quite nice. Unlike Hat Point, the canyon is not as deep here, nor is the view 360 degrees. Also, one cannot see the Snake River. Nevertheless, access to the overlook is completely on paved roads if coming from the south or west, so it makes a good alternative for visitors who don't have the time to visit Hat Point.

The remoteness of Hat Point requires a minimum of a half day to get in and out while leaving time to enjoy the scenery. Take a picnic lunch. It was a treat for us to eat in such a beautiful setting.
Written July 6, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Eugene, OR1 contribution
Hat Point Road is in good condition and not dangerous
Aug 2017 • Solo
After reading a lot of comments about the condition of the Hat Point Road (very mixed reviews), I decided to hire a guide who drove me in his 4WD pickup, supplied lunch and impressed me with his knowledge of the area's history and wildlife. But I was dumbfounded to discover that this is a pretty good back country road. Knowing what I know now, I would have driven my 2WD Tacoma Tacoma pickup - no problem. Yes, the road is very narrow in places and on very steep ground, but there are plenty of turnouts and all drivers we met were courteous. Don't be afraid to drive a 2WD passenger car!
Written February 16, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

26 contributions
Worth the trip
Sep 2017
My daughter and son in law gave us a book for Christmas called " Beyond the Beaten Path" and within this book was Hat Point in NE Oregon. So while staying at Wallowa Lake Sate Park we decided to venture out and go as a way to look at a portion of Hells Canyon.

When we told a ranger at the park where we were going she made sure we were driving a 4x4 and that we knew that it was 24 miles of dirt road, one way. She then said "good luck". Gulp :). So off we went looking forward to our adventure.

When we arrived at the dirt road we realized that a vehicle other than a 2wheel drive city car was probably a wise choice. The road was rough in the beginning and bounced us about a bit but it did even out after several miles. The road was also very steep about a 16% grade. So we knew what we were going to come down later and 1st gear on the truck really helped to keep braking at a minimum.

The effort was well worth it though with panoramic views of amazing canyons and mountain ranges in Oregon and Idaho and full of wildlife. We saw bald eagles, big horn sheep and a young elk. And the Snake River winding its way through Hells Canyon below.

The over look offered a working " smoke tower" that you can walk up a ways. Sitting areas to take in the view and picnic tables. At the bottom of the tower gave the level that we were. The Snake River below was 1250 ft and the tower was at 7000 ft.

There was allot of history markers along the way as well that really gave you a perspective of times before us. Take the time to read them too. Many interesting facts.

If you ever have the time, about 4hrs+ from Joseph, OR and back, it is a must. Yes there other overlooks to go to that are easier but doing Hat Point really means you are Off the beaten path.

Written September 6, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mitch M
Colleyville, TX917 contributions
Scenic drive
Jun 2017 • Couples
We had heard a lot of stories about how bad the road was and that it took over six hours to drive round trip. We decided to give it a try and the road was really smooth with limited potholes. It is narrow, has steep drop-offs and some steep grades but none of it was an issue. There are some very scenic overlooks and other spots to enjoy the view. It took us about three hours round trip with numerous stops.
Written June 28, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Rita J
Jacksonville, FL592 contributions
Exciting drive to gorgeous vistas of Hells Canyon and the Snake River
Sep 2016 • Couples
The view at Hat Point Overlook is truly breathtaking. We climbed the 103 steps of the tower at the overlook. We drove the 24 miles one way Hat Point Road (Forest Road 4240) in our 22' Roadtrek RV with no problems on the way to the overlook. The road is narrow, steep and gravel but worth every mile. Be warned that the drive back down has a 16% grade the last 6 miles. Cool your brakes at each sign that warns you to do so. Downshift at top of hill before heading down to avoid brake problems and possible tow. This was truly an adventure and we loved it. A highlight from our 2 month road trip out west.
Written November 22, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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