Begin your drive in Historic Baker City, exiting to the south via Oregon Route 7. The Byway turns west, following Powder River into the forest. The drive passes Phillips Lake, a reservoir that's big with anglers, boaters and campers. Nearby, Mowich Loop Wildlife Viewing Area attracts osprey, bald eagles, deer and elk. Beyond Phillips Lake, a side road leads to the Sumpter Valley Railroad Park, where the restored "Stump Dodger" takes passengers to the town of Sumpter on summer weekends. The Elkhorn Drive continues west, past fields of dredge tailings, to Sumpter. With a population of 130, Sumpter is merely a shadow of its glory days when miners produced over $10 million in gold ore. A 2.4-million-pound dredge was built in 1935 and extracted $4.5 million in gold up until 1954. The old dredge now stands in the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area. Leaving Sumpter, the Byway takes in dramatic vies of the Elkhorn Mountains while climbing to Blue Springs Summit (5,864 ft.), a popular snowmobiling area in the winter. Ten miles down Bull Run Creek, gold was discovered in 1862 and the town of Granite spang up. For 80 years, Granite produced gold and legendary characters. Their stories are found in many abandoned buildings and homes.
But don't abandon this town until you have enough gas and supplies to last the next 57 miles. From Granite, the Byway turns north onto Forest Road 73. Along Granite Creek, look for rock walls made by early Chinese gold miners. Also watch for wildlife in the Crane Flats meadows. The Elkhorn Drive meets up with the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway at the North Fork John Day Campground, then turns east and climbs to its highest point, 7,395-foot Elkhorn Mountain Summit. Within a few miles of each other, Grande Ronde Lake and Anthony Lakes offer picturesque settings for camping and fishing, plus cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in winter. Anthony Lakes also has a beautiful downhill ski resort that's served great powder since 1933. From Anthony Lakes, the drive steeply descends, capturing superb views of the Baker Valley and distant Wallowa Mountains. When Forest Road 73 ends in the valley, head south to Haines, the "Biggest Little Town in Oregon".
Visit the Eastern Oregon Museum for a look at the region's rowdy past. Then continue south on US Route 30 back to Baker City.