Oregon Map

Northeast Highlands

Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa Counties


Wallowa County, 97842

Imnaha is one of my favorite towns. It is truly at the end of the road. Well, at least at the end of the paved road. It nestles protected from the elements (according to the locals) at the bottom of a deep ravine. The road falls three thousand feet from the high desert plateau at Joseph to the confluence of Sheep creek and the Imnaha river. From here one gravel road winds up the Imnaha river and another hugs the river down to the Snake. The road to the Snake washed out about 1996 but I suppose they have rebuilt it by now. Another treacherous road winds up into the sky on its way to Hat Point. The awesome view begins about two feet from the passenger side of your rig and tumbles steeply into the Imnaha canyon and beyond. Glennette would not look until I stopped the truck on a switch-back so that is where she took the pictures. You might need your 4x4 to make it to Hat Point lookout, but the rewards are substantial. From your 6982' high vantage point you can look down at the Snake River and Hells Canyon about one mile below. With the Seven Devil mountains of Idaho towering beyond the vista is awesome. (Somewhere I will have to tell you about rafting Hells Canyon--there is a reason for the name--but I can't do it here). The Imnaha store, the primary establishment in town, also serves as a restaurant and bar. You can buy a good hamburger there and get a glass of cold beer. The locals and tourists mingle and the talk is always interesting. The locals spin on about the mild winters and the bear and cougar problem and the tourists complain about the pace of life in the big city. The proprietor vows to sell out some day and you can be invited to the party. It takes some practice, but you write your name and address on a dollar bill, wrap it around a quarter dollar and a thumb tack and throw it at the ceiling until it sticks. From the number of dollars stuck to the ceiling I sense it will be a big party. We are still waiting for our invitation and the proprietor seems to be doing well. Going back stop at the fish trapping station on Sheep creek a few miles out of Imnaha (your could have stopped going down, but you did not know about it then). The state traps steelhead and salmon here. The eggs are harvested and sent to other hatcheries for rearing. The smolt are returned for stocking. Sometimes the operator is there and he will give you the whole story.