Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally Canceled for Third Consecutive Year

by Taylor Cunningham

The Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally is officially canceled for the third year running.

According to Bakers City Herald, rally organizer Mark Dukes confirmed the news during a phone interview on Feb. 16th. And there were a few reasons for his decision.

In 2020 and 2021, the pandemic was the sole factor behind the closed event. And this year, COVID was still a consideration. But overall, construction around the motorcycle route made the rally impossible.

In Baker City, Oregon, where the route begins, crews are currently working on a major project that will place more than 300 wheelchair-accessible curb cuts throughout the city streets. And to further the problems, High Desert Harley-Davidson, which sponsors the event, is dealing with an employee shortage.

With all things considered, Dukes knew that he’d have a hard time pulling off the massive event.

“I don’t want to go up there and not have a great rally,” he told the paper.

Due to the labor shortage, Duke’s briefly considered partnering with another organization to make the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally happen. But the event is a costly venture that takes six months to plan. And he worried that relying on a company that isn’t familiar with the ride would be too risky.

However, Mark Dukes is determined to get the group back together in 2023.

Canceling the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally is Hard on Baker’s Tourism Industry

Shelly Cutler, executive director of the Baker County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, is hopeful that Mark Dukes will be able to pull off the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally next year.

Because as she shared with Bakers City Herald, the event has been contributing to the city’s local economy in a big way since 2000.

Each year, the rally brings between 5,000 and 8,000 motorcyclists to the area.

“It’s a hit to our summer tourism for sure,” Cutler said on Thursday, Feb. 17. “It’s an incredible event that brings a lot of revenue to the county and businesses. I do not expect another summer to go by without the rally.”

However, Cutler understands why Dukes had to make the decision to cancel. And she’s also certain that many of the riders who regularly take part in the event will still come out to the city and ride on their own accord.

“They still come to Baker, just not in the masses that we would see with the official rally,” she said.

And because COVID restrictions are lifting in Oregan, she’s certain that Baker City is already getting back to normal.

“I think we still have a lot of good things going on,” Cutler added.