Anyway you look at it, this road is seasonal and typically doesn't open until sometime in May or even June. It all depends on the snow and how soon it melts.
Put this note on your to do list under Joseph Oregon Vacation or Eastern Oregon Vacation:
Call the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Service Visitor Center at 541-426-4978 (ext 0)
Bookmark this page: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/conditions/index.shtml
These are the folks responsible for the road opening and closure and will have the most current official information.
In the meantime, we're happy to help you plan your Hells Canyon to Joseph Oregon trip. Just hang on a little longer before taking Highway 39 unless you've got your snowmobile!