"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Monday, October 22, 2018

Driving Rattlesnake Grade - OR/WA

Joseph, Oregon
Wallowa Lake State Park

We had been to Arrowhead Chocolates in Joseph a few days ago but we were so distracted by the yummy chocolates that we apparently missed the specialty hot chocolates.  Linda of The Chouters insisted we must go back.  So we did.  We got up early and stopped by on our way out for a long day drive.
That "bowl" in the middle of the picture is actually a chocolate pod.  I didn't know they were that big.  There are some more in the tall glass jug to the left. The chocolate nuts are inside of it as well as in the smaller glass jar.  The two hot chocolates I debated over were the Mexican Hot Chocolate made with spicy chili's and cinnamon or the Salted Carmel.  Tough choice.  I went with the more unique Mexican Hot Chocolate.  You can choose milk or dark chocolate.  Dark of course!  While they are making it you get the spoon coated with the leftover chocolate to enjoy.
We also grabbed a couple more chocolates for later.
Watching the chocolate being made.
You may remember a couple of posts ago we decided to take the 4 hour way around going through Walla Walla to get to Joseph due to the crazy, steep, hairpin turns of Rattlesnake Grade.  Now that we're here we wanted to make a day trip out of it and see just how bad it is.  We started out on Hwy 3 from the town of Enterprise then head north for about 90 miles.  If you drove nonstop it would take about 2 hours.  There are so many turnouts with gorgeous views and interesting stops along the way that you'll want to make sure you have a full tank of gas and some lunch.
We took some little hikes along the way for the views and came across some interesting hunting things.  I peaked inside the barrel and yes, there were several sample bags in there.
We also found an empty hunting camp with a deer hide and the cleaning station.  See that plastic jug up where they hang the deer to clean?  Don't mess with it.  Sometimes it contains urine so other critters will leave the kill alone.
We were hoping to see some old buildings but there was nothing out here but this sign and a lot of cow poop.
There is a lot of information about Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians.  They spent thousands of years here in the gorge and cliffs between summer and winter camps. The views are stunning if you get out and walk a bit.

The road twists and turns for miles and eventually you will leave Oregon and cross into Washington.
The scenery changes and you will see the Grand Ronde River below.  There is not much but wild here but you will come across Boggans Oasis.  We heard they are known for their shakes but we didn't go in.  We wanted to check out the river and grab a geocache.  Sure looked like a great place to fish!  We also found the gnats (or whatever they were) were so thick they got stuck in my hair and got in your eyes and mouth.  I've never seen anything like it.  Check out the short video clip below.  If you can enlarge it, do.  You'll see how crazy thick they were!
Gnats?  YUCK!!
Once leaving Boggans you climb back up before reaching Anatone, just outside of Lewiston.  We found this section to be the steepest and windiest.  Check out our truck GPS below.  The grades are generally 6 - 9%.  While we've driven some challenging grades these go on for miles.  There are also many logging trucks that use this route.  We passed a few smaller RVs and even some bicyclists! 

It seems to never end!
We stopped in Anatone for a picnic and looking to fill up some jugs with spring water at this state park.  Unfortunately, the springs are capped.
Really got a kick out of this sign in the tiny farm town of Anatone.  I wondered who "Holly" was and did a little poking around.  Seems Holly was a much loved resident in her 20s that died early this year of breast cancer. 
We can't pass up an old cemetery so we walked through this one a bit.  Up on a high plain with some of the few trees around the farms you'll find some very old graves.
Little bits of lichen growing out of the sign.

You'll spot a few farms along this stretch. Some abandoned.  All separated by miles of cut croplands.
Once you drop down into Asotin you'll be along the Snake River.  There are some very nice bike trails here that we would've loved to ride.
I couldn't find any info on this interesting pointy landmark. --update--  My friend Shelly let me know that it's called Swallow's Nest where many swallows nest.  Thanks Shelly!

It was a long drive back.  We hid a couple of geocaches on this route on our way back to Oregon.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the gorge and through the trees on the way back.
So would we take our 40' fifthwheel trailer over this route next time.  Nope.  But if any of you have we'd love to hear how it went.
We went to a small brewery called Terminal Gravity for a light dinner and watched a great band perform.  Steve didn't care for any of the beer he tried.  He likes hop forward IPAs and found all of them too malt forward. 

Monday was Steve's birthday so we decided to leave on Tuesday and enjoy one last day here.
The lake was like glass!
We drove the few miles back to Enterprise and walked around town admiring the old buildings.

There is a fish hatchery outside of town that we enjoyed and then walked a nature trail behind the ponds.

Some of the larger salmon.
After we walked the trail we went back to Joseph for lunch and walked around that town some more.

More countryside drives and then we watched the fullmoon begin to rise. 
We knew there were a couple of steak restaurants so we called to find out about reservations.  We are usually somewhere pretty cool or with friends for Steve's birthday but this year it turned out to be a little bit of a bust.  It would've been funny if we weren't so hungry and really wanting a steak, but, hello, it's the end of October and one of them was closed for the season.  The other was closed on Mondays.  Just our luck.  We struck out in both towns.
Steve finally decided on a Mexican restaurant.  We were still pretty stuffed from lunch so we just had a drink and brought most of our dinner back home.
Lookin' slim Steve!  Happy Birthday!!
I didn't want to leave you with the above picture so I added one more below.
Image result for happy thanksgiving day picture
I hope you all enjoy some turkey and, if you're lucky, some pasta!!


  1. That pointy rock is called Swallows Nest obviously because of all the swallows that call it home. If you are on a boat on the river they are active before sunrise and sunset feasting on bugs...

  2. What a cute little town, love their population sign! We always enjoy visiting hatcheries but I have to resist the temptation to bring a flyrod. You know the people that work there go fishing once in a while, how could they not!?!?!

    1. We always have a small one in the truck, but I know what you mean!

  3. The hot chocolate looks good but I'm a milk chocolate girl. Looks like an interesting road with some great stops, think you made the right choice in not pulling over it. Poor Steve not being able to find a steak dinner for his birthday. Have a great Thanksgiving.

    1. The milk chocolate was really great! If the grades weren't so long we might have given it a try.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Steve - and Hurley of course! Wonderful pics of this beautiful area. I know I drove a very steep and winding road from the Columbia River to Lewiston alongside the Snake River Canyon, and then another similar one out of Joseph in the other direction, but can't remember if it was this road. In any case, they were both drives I hadn't planned for. Don't know if that made them better or worse :-)) Love the old farms, love your shots. So did you like your hot chocolate??? It sounds wonderful.

    1. You're so brave doing that drive! The hot chocolate was fantastic!

  5. Happy Thanksgiving! We had planned a nice dinner for Ron's birthday but it too was a bust :-( I still owe him dinner at Dingus McGee's in Auburn... That's one crazy winding road. I think I would also pass on towing over the grade. I like the photo you took of the glass lake :-)

    1. Well maybe we'll have to make their birthday dinners up to them?!

  6. Great pics! I don’t think I would want to take our rig on that road either. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thanks! Hope you're enjoying AZ. We'll be there in January.

  7. What a beautiful area and thanks for the insight on the drive.

  8. A few years back we took the road from Enterprise to Lewiston with a '97 19' trailer and Silverado 5.7 engine...Did swell but would not want to do it in either direction again. Now with a Winnebago with a following Samurai..Nopes!..
    The views are great, just don't like having the horskies working so hard...

    1. We agree. Besides taking the long way around via Walla Walla just provided us with more scenery to take in.


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