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Welcome to Eastern Oregon
Welcome to Eastern Oregon
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Nature, Preserved

What makes Eastern Oregon attractive to nature lovers is how beautifully undeveloped it remains. See more than 40 million years of geologic history at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, consisting of three preserved fossil areas including the Painted Hills, one of Oregon’s 7 Wonders. Another of the 7 Wonders, the Wallowa Mountains in the Eagle Cap Wilderness features the region's trademark wide-open spaces paired with mountain peaks and glacial lakes. Drive the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway to see a swath of this unique landscape, and make time for a jet boat tour on the Snake River into the canyon itself, an imposing marvel that's deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Other must-sees include Cottonwood Canyon State Park with its 3,200 hectares of off-the-grid wilderness. Towering Steens Mountain and natural thermal springs surround the dry, cracked surface of the Alvord Desert. Explore four scenic bikeways that pass through early pioneer towns and pristine landscapes under huge, open skies. Nearly all of the parks and mountains are open to hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, anglers, paddlers and skiers.

 

Native American and Pioneer History

The Umatilla, Cayuse and Walla Walla Tribes have inhabited Eastern Oregon for more than 10,000 years. In the mid-19th century, pioneers followed the 3,490-kilometer Oregon Trail from Missouri into Oregon, where emigrant and native cultures clashed, mingled and traded. Today, historical sites and museums document this multi-faceted story. Hear the native language, see tribal artifacts and explore a storyline-style museum at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton. At the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, look for replica covered wagons and the original wagon ruts from travelers on the Oregon Trail. Local Native American tribes and rugged, modern-day cowboys come together at the annual Pendleton Round-Up, a week of special events, concerts and a Native American village culminating in the famous rodeo.

Welcome to Eastern Oregon
Welcome to Eastern Oregon
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Fun Fact

Hells Canyon in Eastern Oregon
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At 16 kilometers wide and 2,436 meters deep, Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America

Photo: Timothy Bishop

Views of the ancient geologic formations at Oregon’s John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
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The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is comprised of an astounding array of well-preserved fossils in three separate units, including specimens from tiny, four-toed horses and early rhinoceros.

Photo: Sumio Koizumi

View of the lake and mountain at Oregon’s Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort
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Oregon’s highest base elevation for skiing is 2,164 meters at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort.

Photo: Timothy Bishop

Must see places

Horseback riding in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon

Wallowa Mountains

One of Oregon’s 7 Wonders, the Wallowas include glacial lakes, pristine forests and the deepest river gorge in North America – all in one place. At the foot of the mountains, the tiny town of Joseph is a popular basecamp to access fishing, hiking, camping, biking, water sports at Wallowa Lake, snow sports in the winter and a dizzying sky tram to the 2,438-meter peak of Mt. Howard.

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Aerial view of the Snake River cutting through Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon

The deepest river gorge in North America was formed by the Snake River over a period of millions of years. Its imposing depth of 2,436 meters inaccessible by road means a wholly unspoiled wilderness to explore. The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area boasts hiking, biking, fishing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, camping and other outdoor adventures.

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Snowboarding at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort in Oregon

Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort

At Oregon’s highest base elevation, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort boasts some of the region’s best winter skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. When the snow melts, go biking, hiking, fishing and camping in an unspoiled wilderness. Access all the fun from accommodations ranging from deluxe yurts to the plush rooms of the historic Geiser Grand Hotel in nearby Baker City.

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Views of the Rocks District American Viticultural Area, Eastern Oregon’s wine country

Rocks District American Viticultural Area

One of Oregon’s newer American Viticultural Areas (AVA) is the Rocks District, where more than a dozen wineries produce distinctive flavors, particularly Syrah. The Rocks District is part of the Whisky & Rocks Farm Loop, a self-guided driving tour of regional winemakers, farmers, brewers, distillers and gourmet food artisans.

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A Pendleton, Oregon, artisan handcrafting a saddle

Pendleton’s Crafters

Every year, 50,000 people flock to see the rodeo spectacular known as the Pendleton Round-Up. The rest of the year, unique craftspeople create heirloom-worthy objects: beautiful wool goods at Pendleton Woolen Mills, handmade cowboy boots at Staplemans Boots & Leather, world-famous saddles from Hamley & Co. and Native American arts at Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts.

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Natural history and cultural heritage meet in a scene at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Divided into three units, the 7,700-hectare John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is one of the world’s richest repositories of plant and mammal fossils. The Clarno Unit captures a period in time when four-toed horses and ancient rhino roamed lush jungles some 54 million years ago. At the Sheep Rock Unit, you can view the fossils at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, a working lab, and marvel at naturally green claystone rocks and exposed fossils. The otherworldly red and orange Painted Hills Unit is one of Oregon’s 7 Wonders. Clear out your camera’s memory for this one.

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The designated Wild & Scenic John Day River in Oregon

Wild & Scenic John Day River & Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Cottonwood Canyon State Park – Oregon’s second largest state park – is great for horseback riding, hiking, camping and access to the completely undammed John Day River. As the third-longest free-flowing river in the USA, the John Day offers an outstanding paddling experience as well as top-notch bass fishing.  

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Views of the landscape surrounding Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain boasts some of the most natural, pristine land you can imagine. Wide-open spaces allow for outdoor activities of all sorts, and the mountain flora and fauna will keep your camera busy. From late summer to early fall, drive Steens Loop Tour Route, the highest road in Oregon, for views of Wildhorse Lake, Kiger Gorge and the Alvord Desert, as well as awesome roadside hikes and expansive vistas at the summit.

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Alvord Desert

In the shadow of Steens Mountain, the Alvord Desert seems like a different world altogether. If the lakebed is dry, you can walk out onto the cracked, sunbaked playa and take pictures of Steens in the distance. With almost no light pollution, this is one of the best places to see a million twinkling night stars. Camp at Alvord Hot Springs to soak in the mineral pools and watch the sunrise.

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A covered wagon on display at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City

National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

Located in Baker City, the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is an absolute must-see. The Oregon Trail was used by thousands of pioneers during the mid-19th century seeking the "Promised Land" of the West Coast. Exhibits including replica covered wagons and life-sized dioramas give a comprehensive look at this mass migration. Actual wagon ruts are still visible in the soil.

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View of the Wallowa Mountains in Baker County, Oregon
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Experience Eastern Oregon
Timothy Bishop