The Joseph Canyon Roadless Area is well known, largely because of its proximity to State Highway 3 and popular Joseph Canyon viewpoint that overlooks the 2,000-foot depths of Joseph Canyon. The Joseph Canyon Roadless Area is a key part of a unique and critical wildlife connective corridor providing high quality habitat between the remote Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness.
The Joseph Canyon Roadless Area contains numerous streams that are used by anadromous fish and provides spawning habitat for salmon and steelhead. The area includes Swamp Creek where it is designated as a Wild and Scenic River and the ODFW’s Oregon Conservation Strategy has identified it as a Priority Conservation Opportunity Area. The area is renowned for wildlife and includes Ponderosa Pine Woodlands and old growth forests now rare on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The Joseph Canyon Roadless Area has significant historical value that embraces all of the major peoples that have shaped the region; the Nez Perce Indians; pioneers and settlers, the Forest Service, and backcountry hunters and hikers. The trails have been used since time immemorial and are currently frequented by backcountry hunters and horse-back riders and hikers. One of the historic names of the Canyon was Condor Canyon, for the Condor that used to fly above Joseph Canyon.
View from Starvation Ridge to Joseph Canyon and the wild country beyond.