Our first dual sport ride of the 2004 season took us from Clarkston, Washington, to the mountains of central Idaho, down into Hell's Canyon between Idaho and Oregon, and then home via the back roads of some of the canyons in Hell's Canyon Recreation Area.
We started out in the rain along the Snake River in Clarkston, Washington. It later cleared as we headed down a great series of switchbacks along the Old Whitebird Grade into Whitebird, Idaho. At Riggins, Idaho, we went up the Salmon River along a narrow paved road that eventually turned to dirt. There was an impressive amount of water roiling down through the canyon of this, the famous "River of No Return." Climbing up the canyon along a narrow one lane dirt road was fun, and challenging for the one of us with acrophobia (uh, that would be me). A few washouts here and there, and an occasional mud puddle, added even more interest to the beautiful route. We eventually climbed to a high meadow and the rustic community of Burgdorf with its hot springs at an elevation of over 6,000 feet. Next stop, Warren, Idaho, and the night's accommodations. Well, maybe not. We actually stayed at a wonderful B&B a bit further through town.
The next day we took the one lane dirt road down to the South Fork of the Salmon River. Rain caught us as we headed out of this canyon and went to McCall, Idaho, keeping the picture taking to a minimum.
Our third day out was our trek to the rim and down into Hell's Canyon. We started out from McCall in threatening weather, well actually, it was raining. We managed to skirt south of the major rain and headed for the canyon. Good dirt and gravel roads took us to the metropolis of Cuprum, population 8, not counting the three dogs lounging in the road as we rode through. The old barn along the way cried out for a picture. We then headed down Kleinschmidt Grade, admiring the great views of Hell's Canyon along the way. At the bottom there is a great paved road that winds along the Snake River to Hell's Canyon Dam. We spent the night near Joseph, Oregon, at the Wallowa Lake Lodge.
The fourth day was time to head home, and it was raining again. Not enough to dampen our spirits, though. By the time we finished breakfast, the sky was clearing and we were off on another adventurous day of back road riding. We were now on the Oregon side of Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area and we intended to ride the ridges and the lesser Canyons of the reserve all the way to Clarkston, Washington. Riding the high prairie out of Joseph, Oregon, was an adventure of its own, complete with a large bull at the side of the road (none of us had the guts to stop to take his picture) and a great old red barn. There were also more mud adventures and mostly indiscernible roads. Then we arrived at the ridges looking out over the Canyon and the territory we had traversed to get here. Down we went into the canyons and some pretty impressive rock roads and great secluded areas. We came out of the Grand Ronde River canyon at its confluence with the Snake River and we were essentially home.
What a great trip with good friends! It really doesn't get any better than this. But, I am going to keep trying.
Thomas R. Powell & Associates
Last updated on 02/19/2012.