Rattlesnake Pass to Wallowa Lake + ADD NEW ROUTE
2 in Idaho Idaho98 Miles
on June 1, 2009
- Trip Toolbox
Hwy 129 heads south out of Lewiston, ID/Clarkston, WA. If you are not familiar with the area, Google a detailed map to find your best route to avoid traffic depending on the direction you are coming from. At Asotin follow the signs and turn right after passing the gas-n-go. The road will start to climb up very quickly and from here just stay on the main paved road all the way to Enterprise, OR, about 87 miles. To find Wallowa Lake, Turn Left onto Hwy 82 and head toward Joseph for 6 miles. In Joseph go all the way up the main street past all the shops and the road turns left to head out to the lake, the park and Lodge are about 6 miles at the far end of the lake. (Note: taking the return trip, Hwy 3 at Enterprise is not marked from the east end - it is the wider street that heads north with a stop sign and kiddy corner to the older gas station. Continuing west on hwy 82 will take you to La Grand, OR, or Walla Walla, WA, both are great rides.
Special direction notes: From Joseph you can head east on the Imnaha Hwy, turn right onto Wallowa Mt Rd-FS39, to take you through the mountains to Hells Canyon and Oxbow.(This is a national scenic byway, but do call a head to the forest service to check road conditions as it changes every year and is closed in winter.) Take a left on Hwy 86 to Oxbow and you can link with another ID road on this site or take hwy 71 to Cambridge, ID and Hwy 95.
The scenery on this road is amazing. You'll follow along the Snake River out to Asotin, then twist and climb up to the top of the Butte. To the southeast you will have some views of the cliffs of the north end of Hells Canyon Then the scenery changes from grasslands to wooded forest and you'll soon see the sign Rattlesnake Pass. Through the trees you start to get a glimpse of the grassy canyon you'll be descending; there are many view points along the way. Be sure to stop at Joseph Canyon Overlook for an amazing view of the historic Nez Pierce winter homelands and far off to the south the high peaks of the Wallowa Mts. (Blue Mts. of Oregon). The hwy continues south through the woodlands for about 25 miles and rounding a sharp right corner you'll get a majestic view of Eagles Cap peak and the Wallowa range. In May the grasslands are very green and the mountains are still covered in snow making for some amazing contrast. Wallowa Lake is quite spectacular especially in the early morning sun.
"Teak" added this in Jan of 2015: "Along this highway you will crest many times for spectacular views of north east Oregon, then drops repeatedly to ride along the river, excellent for a dip during hot weather. The Grande Ronde River. South of Enterprise is a dirt road, Crow Creek Road, that takes to a ledge looking down to the Snake River's Hells Canyon. I would take camping gear and overnight on the ledge."
From Asotin the road turns right for about 5 miles of wonderful twisties. At the top it leaves one thinking: is that all there is to this road; but, wait the best is yet to come. The road straightens out and runs across the farmlands to Anatone. Soon you'll be twisting all the way down Rattlesnake grade to the Grande Ronde River and Gorgan's Oasis where you can stop for a cold drink or a bite to eat. Continue on South for more twisting and turning where the road becomes Oregon Hwy 3. Use caution on the grade; gravel, bad pavement, semi's, RVs and tourist drivers were frequently seen. Once in Oregon the pavement is much better and you'll enjoy some gentle sweepers and opening up your throttle a bit. Rattlesnake grade
"Teak" added this in Jan of 2015: "The highway is very good pavement, curves and drops, map is deceiving when it shows a straight road way. the dirt road to Hell's canyon is graded, no ruts. Hellufaride."
Not many amenities along this road and NO gas from Asotin to Enterprise so fill up before you leave - Note gas was 40 cents a gallon more in Enterprise, OR than in Lewiston, ID. Grogan's Oasis has cold drinks, food and souvenirs. Fields Springs State park is just past Anatone; camping is available. At Wallowa Lake there is Wallowa State park with camping, fishing and other activities and the Wallowa Lake Lodge that has a 4 star restaurant and excellent prime rib on Friday and Saturday nights. There is a tramway that takes you up the mountains in the summer months. Joseph is a fun little tourist town with lots of shops, inns, bars and good places to eat.
""A good view looking back on some twistys
"Teak" added this in Jan of 2015: "No amenities, gas and food are at Enterprise, a small farming town, if you want the tourist town, Joseph is a little bit farther. Definite tourist town, lots of brass sculptures, trinket stores and restaurants. Groceries and gas in Enterprise."
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