Some vaguely remember hearing about Halfway, Oregon, as a quirky reference: around the turn of the 21st century, it was briefly re-named “Half.com, Oregon” in a promotional tie-in with the eponymous website. But reducing Halfway to a dot.com-era novelty doesn’t do justice to the town or its impressive geographic context. To the north lie the Wallowa Mountains, a nest of glacially scoured peaks cresting 9,000 feet and harboring Oregon’s biggest federal wilderness area, the Eagle Cap. Just to the northeast sprawls Hells Canyon, one of the deepest of the world’s river gorges. Motels provide a place to rest while you explore this far-flung place so rich in history, scenery and wilderness.
Halfway Area Motels
The Halfway Motel and RV Park sits on South Main Street. With 26 units, it features high-speed Internet access and pet-friendly options. Drive 13 miles to the south on Highway 86 to get to Richland, which boasts the Hitching Post Motel. About an hour west of Halfway is Baker City, which, being substantially larger (and the Baker County seat), has a Super 8, the Eldorado Inn and other options.
Other Lodging Possibilities
Non-motel lodging is also available in Halfway and the vicinity. For example, the Pine Valley Lodge on Main Street offers a number of rustic guest rooms, some of which, for extra charge, accommodate small pets. Homegrown cherries, when the season permits, accent the weekend continental breakfasts. Set off Steele Hill Road is the Birch Leaf Guest House, first erected as a farm residence in 1906 and now boasting four guest rooms, wrap-around decks and other amenities.
Halfway is a major outpost of the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, off which most area hotels reside. Departing from either La Grande or Baker City, Oregon -- the two biggest communities in the region and significant cultural centers -- the Byway, technically consisting of Highways 82, 86 and 39, as well as side loops, wraps around the Wallowa Mountains and skirts the western edge of Hells Canyon country. Winter snows, especially in the high country, can complicate access. If you are driving to Halfway via Interstate 84, off which the Byway begins, consult the Oregon Department of Transportation -- whether through its TripCheck website or recorded hotline -- for travel conditions in the Northern Blue Mountains.
Visitors in the Halfway area can expect a notably different climate than is found in Oregon west of the Cascades. Higher and drier than the misty lowlands toward the Pacific, the steppes and montane forests of northeastern Oregon can see generous amounts of snow in the wintertime: Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular in the nearby Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, while the Anthony Lakes Ski Area west of Baker City in the Elkhorn Range offers fine downhill tracks. Summer visitors can hike into the Eagle Cap Wilderness alpine wilderness or raft the Snake River through Hells Canyon. Spring brings morel mushrooms into season, while the autumn landscape beckons elk hunters.