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Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway-A Wild West Gold Rush!

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Updated June 12, 2016

The Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway wends its way through the Elkhorn Mountains.  Tucked away in the rugged outback of Eastern Oregon USA, the byway is a gateway back in time.

Imagine . . . 

. . . gold rush, lost mines, stage coach routes, old rail lines, ghost towns, and the renowned Powder River.

About the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway

This 106 mile loop is packed with incredible scenery, stunning wildlife, and plenty of things to do.  

No wonder it has received national recognition as one of American’s Scenic Byways!

Plan your road trip for 5 to 6 hours travel time, including stops.  In winter, the byway is closed to through traffic, and is not snowplowed between Granite, Oregon and Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort.



Wilderness Preparation

Because the area comprising the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway is so remote and there are no nearby services or conveniences, contingency planning is imperative.  Come with a full tank of fuel, warm clothing, extra food and plenty of drinking water as there are times when none is available.  The mosquitoes can be fierce; so, wear long-sleeves, pants and a hat, and take mosquito repellent.

In places no cell phone signal or service is available. 

Access to unpaved side-roads via the route we took can be rough and often not well maintained.  Use off-road driving savvy: high-clearance and/or four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended.  Some areas may not be well-traveled after Labor Day weekend in September when the seasonal recreational activities in the area cease to attract road trip visitors.

Click here to buy Emergency Kit

Help is slow to come in the event of an emergency during the off-season.  Come prepared to be self-sufficient if the unforeseen should happen.  We always wear hiking clothes and take backpacks filled with survival gear, including maps, a compass, and bear spray, in case we have to hike out.



the journey begins here . . . live the adventure!


Map Your Road Trip


Use the map below to locate the destination of your choice along the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway.  Click on the red pins to get more information.




How to Get There

From I-84 in Oregon, take Exit 304/Baker City.  Go west off the exit onto Oregon Route 7/Campbell Street Baker.  Turn left onto Oregon Route 7/Main Street traveling to the Old Post Office Square, 1650 Dewey Avenue, at the junction of Oregon Route 7 and U.S. 30; this is the beginning of the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway.

Continue south on Oregon Route 7/Dewey Avenue/Baker-Unity Whitney Hwy./Sumpter Stage Hwy. as it leads through Baker City and out of town into the high dessert.  Soon Oregon Route 7 follows along the north bank of the Powder River, which empties into Phillips Lake.

To continue on the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway, turn right onto Oregon Route 410/Sumpter Stage Hwy. and travel through Sumpter.  After leaving Sumpter, the highway changes name to Oregon Route 410/Granite Hill Road.  At the point the pavement changes in the hills, the road changes name again, Bull Run to Baker Road 24 Rd. and then Bull Run to Baker Road 2400 Rd., and then to West Street as it enters the town of Granite.

At the junction in Granite, West Street changes name to NF-73.  Hang a right at the forked junction of NF-52 and NF-73, staying on NF-73.  The will wind as it ascends to the Anthony Lakes Recreation Area.

From Anthony Lakes continue eastward on NF-73.  As it leaves the Umatilla National Forest the road changes name to Anthony Lakes Hwy.  As the highway closes in on the town of Haines the name changes to Anthony Lakes Hwy./Pocahontas Road.  When the road curves to the east it becomes Anthony Lakes Hwy./Rock Creek Road, then turns into 4th Street as it goes through Haines.  

To complete the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway loop back to Baker City, turn right at the junction in Haines onto US 30/La Grande-Baker Hwy.  Follow US 30 through Baker City to the point of origin at Old Post Office Square.



Drive the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway

If you can’t put this gem on your bucket list, enjoy a vicarious road trip through this four volume video series.  While you’ll miss all the incredible side trips and sights, you will enjoy touring through gorgeous scenery.



Powder River Recreation Area

Off Highway 7, just below Mason Dam, Phillips Lake is a beautiful place to enjoy the Elkhorn Mountains and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.  

Explore the Powder River by camping or fishing along Phillips Lake.

Hear the call of the Brown Pelican.

Hike, picnic or just relax and enjoy the wildlife.  There's something for everyone here! Check out the following video for a refreshing take on the area.



All Aboard!
Sumpter Valley Railroad

In the heart of Oregon’s gold country runs a railroad like no other from the McEwen Depot to the historic mining town of Sumpter.


This beautiful coach built in 1890, served the area for many years.  After a painstaking interior restoration by Eric Wunz, Coach #20 resumed service in 1991.

The current day railroad includes 5.2 miles of rail, The McEwen Yard, sidings and spurs.

“Take a trip back in time to the Wild West when the Gold Rush Bandits hold up the trains of the Sumpter Valley Railroad.”

--SumpterValleyRailroad.org



Gold Rush!
Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area  

Gold fever drove many thousands through open range and rugged mountains to this valley carved by the Powder River and a boom town named Sumpter arose . . . 

. . . Until it burned down and gold became too expensive to mine.  


Pond Reflections of the
Sumpter Valley Dredge Art




Sumpter is a ghost town now, with few residents.  Well preserved relics of the past dominate the area, especially the Sumpter Valley Dredge; it’s like stepping back in time.  OregonStateParks.org

Floating in a pond about 9 feet deep, this amazing dredge could move itself through the valley by digging out in front of itself, processing the material for gold using 72 1-ton buckets, filling in behind with the rock and gravel left over (tailings), and taking its own pond with it.

Inside this historic gold dredge, the massive workings have been left in their natural state.  They processed water, slurry and gold.  Visitors get up-close views of the wooden slats called riffles and the trommel, which pushed the slurry through the sluice boxes.

"This 60 horse-power motor powered one of the three water pumps.  The 250 HP motors powering the winches were three times the size of this one!”

--Local Signage

“Water was pumped throughout the dredge using three large water pumps.  One pump washed the dirt into the dredge from the buckets.  Another pump sent water to separate the gold from the dirt. Water to wash the waste out of the dredge came from a third pump.”

--Local Signage

This boiler was used to keep water lines and machinery from freezing during the cold winters.

A bone yard of tools and equipment next to the dredge tells silent stories of a bygone era.

Mountains of tailings dominate the valley floor for miles and are remnants of the vast gold mining operation that took place here not so long ago.

Consider extending your road trip to see more excellent destinations in eastern Oregon.

Road Tripping the Snake River Oregon through the spectacular Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is an unforgettable journey filled with outstanding adventure in one of USA’s wildest places.



Architecture

Geiser Grand Hotel

"Explore this architectural jewel, and find out why the Geiser's spectacular restoration received The National Trust for Historic Preservation's coveted Honor Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation."  GeiserGrand.com

Attractions

Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort

Early in the 20th century adventure seekers discovered the finest natural powder glades ever. Soon the “Friendliest Little Ski Area in America” attracted the big competitors and the need road access for what was to become the Elkhorn Scenic Byway was acknowledged.

Today the resort hosts year around activities including Nordic skiing, cross-country skiing, concerts, festivals, races, vacation get-a-ways, weddings and other special events.

AnthonyLakes.com


Oregon's Largest Gold Nugget

Discovered in 1913, this 5 pound gold nugget is on display at U.S. Bank in Baker City along with other historical and mining artifacts.

Campgrounds

Anthony Lake Campground

There are 3 campgrounds in the Anthony Lakes Recreation Area; the largest is Anthony Lakes Campground.  If you're looking for relaxation, this is the place to be.  Spectacular views of the Elkhorn Mountains and Gunsight Peak can be seen from here.  

Do you enjoy photography, fishing, hiking and canoeing?  Then, this is the place to be!

Definitely one of the most scenic venues on the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway!


Anthony Lake Tent Campground  

Located on the southern end of Anthony Lake, the Anthony Lakes Tent Campground offers all the scenery and activities of it's larger cousin, with a "walk-in only" experience, as no vehicles are allowed near the campsites.  Note this campground is not disabled accessible.


Grand Ronde Lake Campground

The third of the campgrounds in the Anthony Lakes Recreation Area, Grande Ronde Lake Campground is located in a refreshing pine-fir forest above beautiful Grande Ronde Lake. 


Miller’s Lane Campground  

With only 4 tent-only campsites and 4 tent/trailer sites, Miller's Lane Campground is the smallest of the 3 campgrounds near Phillips Lake.  Located on the south shore,  access to the areas popular recreation activities is easy.


Mud Lake Campground  

Rustic and small, Mud Lake Campground offers 7 campsites for small trailers or tents.  Though Mud Lake is often dry in late summer, close access to activities in the Anthony Lake Recreation Area make it an ideal stay.


North Fork John Day Campground  

"This campground sits along the Wild and Scenic North Fork John Day River at the junction of the Blue Mountain and Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byways. It features 20 campsites, 3 accessible toilet facilities, and stock handling facilities. 

There is no potable water or garbage service, so please pack your garbage home. 

This campground serves as the eastern access point to North Fork John Day Wilderness via North Fork John Day River Trail #3022. This area offers hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, sight-seeing, photography. In spring and fall you can see the salmon spawning.  State fishing regulations apply.

If you like to drive, you can pick up the Ukiah-Granite Roadside Geology tour brochure from the camp hosts or the Ranger District."  fs.usda.gov


Southwest Shore Campground

The Southwest Shore Campground is usually the first, of the 3 campgrounds located around Phillips Lake, to open in the spring.  Enjoy fishing, watching wildlife, hiking and boating.


Union Creek Campground  

"The Union Creek Campground is one of the largest Forest Service campgrounds in eastern Oregon. Set on the northern shore of Phillips Lake amid mature ponderosa pine forest, it offers over 60 campsites for tents, trailers and RVs. Special activities for local and regional visitors include; fishing, hiking, swimming, waterskiing, and boating. Within the Union Creek Recreation site there is also the Union Creek Boat Launch and Union Creek Picnic and Day-use Area." fs.usda.gov

Historical Landmarks

Old Post Office Square

This historic landmark was once the town's center. As the Oregon Trail Monument, it's still a hub, and the beginning of the Elkhorn Scenic Byway. 

Museums

Eastern Oregon Museum  

Preserving over 10,000 artifacts representing the historical significance of the local community and Northeastern Oregon, the Eastern Oregon Museum houses collections including “. . . a blacksmith shop, horse-drawn equipment, vintage clothing, coffee grinders, carefully preserved dolls, mining exhibits, photographs, local historic family genealogies, history of the area, model planes, the original elevator from the Geiser Grand Hotel, the "Bourne bar” and more.  Explore the 1880’s Union Pacific Depot and other railroad artifacts.


Home of Baker County History

"Permanent and changing exhibits of mining, timber, ranching, agriculture, early Baker City life, Chinese culture and wildlife fill the 33,000 square foot building. Whether you spend an hour or spend the day touring the museum you will come away with an appreciation of our region and the people who settled here."

BakerHeritageMuseum.com


Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

The past comes alive on the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway. The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center features 4 miles of interpretive trails, amazing exhibits and living history demonstrations and events.  It's like transporting to the past!


Sumpter Municipal Museum  

The only museum in the State of Oregon housed in a public library, the Sumpter Municipal Museum shares space in a historic building constructed in 1899, which survived the fire of 1917.  The artifacts and exhibits display the natural history of the Sumpter Valley area.

SumpterMusesum.wordpress.com

Points of Interest

Baker Valley Overlook  

Grab your camera and binoculars!  The sweeping vista of the Baker Valley Overlook just off the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway offers breathtaking views of the Wallowa Mountains and Baker Valley.  Check out the interpretive panels to learn about the colorful history of the local area.


Blue Springs Summit Snowpark  

Open year-round, the Blue Spring Summit Snowpark is an active recreation site located just off the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway. The trail does double-duty as a snowmobile trailhead in winter and as a the Blue Mountain OHV trailhead during fair weather months.


Ghost Town--Granite, Oregon

“Like a lot of old mining towns, Granite was a rough, tough, hard-drinking, hard-fisted kind of place. At its peak, it boasted nearly 5,000 residents, almost all male, almost all miners. . . in 1942 the War Labor Act outlawed gold mining and the town screeched to a demographic stop. 

Today, though, Granite is growing. It's a gorgeous mountain town, a little more than 4,000 feet above sea level. Vacationers and elk hunters from elsewhere come and see it, and fall in love with it.” OffBeatOregon.com


Ghost Town--Sumpter, Oregon

During the Gold Rush Era, “The Queen City” boomed until completely devastated by the fire of 1917, a death knell for the mining industry.  As a town, Sumpter died.   Tourism is reviving this ghost town where the old Wild West still prevails.

LegendsOfAmerican.com


Historic Baker City, Oregon

"Baker County is your Base Camp  for experiencing Eastern Oregon. If you're dreaming of a little time away from it all. . . 

. . . With the Elkhorn Mountain Range to our west and the Eagle Caps to our east we have unlimited recreation opportunities including pristine lakes and mountain rivers, miles of hiking trails, as well as shopping and distinctive dining experiences in our historic district."  

A definite must see on the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway!  VisitBakerCity.com


Mowich Loop Wildlife Viewing and Picnic Area

This small picnic area located on the shores of Phillips Lake is a perfect rest top on the journey along the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway.  Observe song birds, Ospreys and Bald Eagles, or stretch your legs on a short hike along the Phillips Lake North Shoreline Trail #1608.




More Oregon Road Trips You Might Enjoy . . . 

An Off Road Trip Secret--Olallie Scenic Area, Oregon USA

Clackamas River Recreation Area

Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway--A Wild West Gold Rush!

Exploring Like Christopher Columbus

Molalla River Corridor & Table Rock Wilderness

Oregon Central Coast

Oregon City--Pioneering the Past

The Columbia River Gorge--Historic Columbia River Highway, Eastern Section

The Historic Columbia River Highway--Historic Columbia River Highway, Western Section

The Snake River Oregon--Road Tripping Up-streme!


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