Category Archives: Eastern Oregon

Oregon’s 7 Wonders

Travel Oregon came up with Oregon’s 7 Wonders and we’ve slowly been checking them out over the past few years. They’re spread out all over Oregon which is great because it really gives you a chance to see a lot of the state.

This August we finally checked off the last wonder and here’s what we thought of them…

The Columbia River Gorge:

We’ve visited this wonder so many times we’ve lost count, starting when we were both kids, and have very fond memories of this area. It’s a little bitter sweet due to the recent wildfire that ravaged the area but this area is so large that there is still places to visit, and we can’t wait until the trails reopen and we get to see this beautiful place again. We know it will take a lot of time, but the Gorge will come back stronger than ever.

Waterfalls, views, and wildflowers…a Gorge trail will take you somewhere amazing!

      

      

Some of our favorite Gorge hikes are Fairy Falls, Larch Mountain, and Wahclella Falls. If you’re Looking for a good lunch spot check out The Ranch for a good burger in Hood River.

The Oregon Coast:

This is another wonder that we’ve visited countless times. Some of our favorite cities are Newport, Pacific City, and Lincoln City. Oregonians know that the coast really is an all season place. A perfect summer day is amazing but a nice winter storm is fun too! Tide pools and lighthouses are some of our favorite things to check out at the coast along with all the great hiking.

      

      

Some great hikes in the area University Falls, Cape Falcon, and Drift Creek Falls. If you’re looking for some good food check out Pacific Oyster in Bay City.

Smith Rock:

We’ve been to Smith Rock three times and it’s amazing. The hikes are great and you can’t really go wrong with any trail you pick. Our personal favorite is Misery Ridge, it may be a bit difficult but it’s well worth the extra energy spent. With the Snake River Gorge winding through the large tuff and basalt rock formations it’s easy to see why this area made the list.

      

      

Make sure to stop by Juniper Junction (Rockhard) for some tasty huckleberry ice cream.

The Painted Hills:

Probably the most unique place on the list with all of the bright colored hills. There’s so much to see here you’ll need to plan for most of the day to really explore this place. There are trails that take you up hills to allow you views of the whole area. Off to one side you’ll see large hills with yellow, red and purple paintbrush type strokes on them, and then if you look another direction you’ll see smaller hills that are deep red or bright yellow-gold. Make sure to check out the trails that go around the smaller hills, it’s really amazing to see the texture and colors up close.

      

      

For more info on the trails click here.

Crater Lake:

Crater Lake is a Caldera Lake that’s very large and very blue. You can drive around the whole crater rim and there are many trails around the caldera. After spending time at some of the many viewpoints and getting a good look at the lake and wizard island make sure to make some time to explore the trails. A few of our favorites are Plaikni Falls and The Pinnacles.

      

      

While you’re in the area make sure to check out Toketee Falls.

The Wallowas:

Way out in eastern Oregon are the Wallowa Mountains, near the town of Joseph. They call it the Swiss Alps of Oregon and we can definitely see why. The best and easiest way to see the Wallowa Mountains are to take the tramway up to the top of Mt. Howard. Wallowa Lake is also a big attraction in this area, the lake is huge and it offers great views of the mountains as well. There are a ton of beautiful barns in the area, stop at the visitor center in Joseph for a map of where you can find them all.

      

      

We recommend the famous mountain berry shake at the Eagle Cap Chalet and a burger from the Glacier Grill.

Mt. Hood:

Of course the Mt. Hood area would make this list- it’s amazing! The mountain itself is beautiful as are the lakes and waterfalls that surround it. This area can’t be beat when it comes to winter activities too- ski, snowboard, snowshoe…you can seriously do it all.

      

      

Some of our favorite hikes in this area Bald Mountain, Umbrella Falls, Zigzag Canyon, and snowshoeing at White River West.

 

Oregon’s 7 Wonders are truly amazing and they really show off how great this state is, we’ll be back to visit them all again and again!

How many of the wonders have you seen? We’d love to hear what your favorite wonder is!

Wallowa Lake- Kayak (Summer)

Directions: From the town of Joseph take Main St. south where the road curves and turns into Wallowa Lake Hwy. About 6 miles later you’ll enter the Wallowa Lake area follow the road off to the right and enter the parking area for the lake.

There is a dock on the south end of the lake where the marina is and that’s where we put our kayak in. You get the best views of the Wallowa Mountains on this end as well.

Wallowa Lake is pretty huge and you can see just how big it is while you’re driving on the Wallowa Lake Highway, you follow right along it for miles. We saw every type of boat and recreational water sport while we were there. Speed boats, pontoons, jet skis, kayaks, canoes stand up paddle boards, inflatable donuts…you name it, we probably saw it! It doesn’t necessarily feel crowded because the lake is so big, but you will always be within earshot of someone and the speed boats tend to rip around the lake so you’ll be bouncing around quite a bit.

      

While we were on the lake we saw a few bald eagles, osprey, and quite a few common mergansers. There were a few deer out in the grass as well. 

If you paddle about to the center of the lake there are some small square floating docks, some with benches, that you can get out and relax on.

The whole lake and surrounding area is quite scenic, we had a great time while we were out on the water.

Distance: Depends on how far/where you’re going. It’s an easy paddle.

Elevation: —

Pet Friendly: Sure if you’re dogs like being out on the water.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area.

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Mt. Howard- Tramway & Hike (Summer)

Directions: Take I-84 east to La Grande and go north on Hwy 82. Follow 82 into the town of Joseph. Take Main St. in Joseph through the town and head south the road turning into Wallowa Lake Hwy, it’s about 6 miles from the town of Joseph. Once in the Wallowa Lake area continue straight until you see the Tramway on your left a short distance later.

This hike has you take a Tramway from the base at 4,450′ to the top of Mt. Howard which is at 8,150′. It takes 15 minutes to get to the top and offers amazing views of the Wallowa Mountains and Wallowa Lake. The cost is $33 per adult, for child and senior prices, as well as other information click here.

After enjoying the short but spectacular tram ride you’ll be let out by the Summit Grill and this is where the hiking portion starts. We started with the smaller loop that takes you to three viewpoints. The trails are very well manicured, it does take away from the nature aspect of the hike but this place is very busy and we understand the need for it. The trails are mostly packed dirt and rock. There are a lot of shrubs and dwarfed trees, as well as some very wind ravaged trees that are bent and curled. In this first loop there is a staircase to get to the top viewpoint. All of the viewpoints in this loop have fantastic views of the Wallowa Mountains.

      

Next we headed east toward the larger loop that takes you past two viewpoints. There are more trees over here and we saw some lingering purple lupine which was great. We saw mountain bluebirds, vultures, crossbills, and many other birds on this loop. The views on this side are of the Snake River and Wallowa Lake. At the north tip you’ll come to a viewpoint with a windsock, this is the launch site for people who are paragliding/hang gliding. There’s a bench here and within minutes of sitting down we had little chipmunks crawling all over us. Please do NOT feed the animals it’s not good for them, as tempting as their cute little faces are.

      

This is a very tourist heavy place and sometimes that can be a little annoying. But the tram was fun and the loops do give you very nice views of the area. We would recommend going during the week and as early as possible.

      

Even with the wildfire smoke this place is still pretty awesome. Your tram ticket is good for the WHOLE DAY too, so ride that baby as many times as you can!

      

Distance: 2.6 miles (easy)

Elevation: 325 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None- just the tramway fee.

Seasons: May-Oct

Popular: Very

Warnings: People that have issues with heights may not enjoy the tram ride to the top.

Zumwalt Prairie- Patti’s Trail (Summer)

Directions: From the town of Enterprise take Highway 82 towards Joseph for about 3 miles. Turn left on Crow Creek Road and go 5 miles. Turn right onto Zumwalt/Buckhorn Road and drive for about 14 miles to the junction of Zumwalt/Buckhorn and Duckett Road. Turn right on Duckett Road and drive for about 1.5 miles to the barn on the right side of the road. This is the Duckett Barn and there is a small pullout and kiosk, this is where you park for this hike.

Be aware that a good amount of the drive is on a dirt road. It was in pretty good shape but there were potholes and it’s a pretty slow go.

From the parking area cross the road and head off on the narrow trail that cuts straight through tall grass. There are small posts with arrows that lead you through this whole hike. The dirt trail starts out level as you go through the prairie and cut through a few barbed wire fences. You’ll gradually start to head downhill slightly as you pass the headwaters of Camp Creek. We were here in early August and there was barely a trickle here so it was hard to figure out exactly where the creek actually started. Down in here we saw a short eared owl, ferruginous hawk and red tailed hawk.

      

The trail levels out again and follows along the creek with hills on either side of the trail. Down here there was a lot of thistle growing and a ton of butterflies! It was amazing to see all the different types. As the trail wraps around the base of a hill you’ll come to where the trail splits, go left where you head up a hill and get good views of the prairie.

      

The trail dips again and then heads back up and back to the prairie. There are two places where you have to climb up some steps that take you over the fence, it’s not too hard but just be aware for older folks and younger kids. As you follow the arrows back through the meadow you’ll connect with the first part of the trail that takes you back to your car.

      

We did this hike during a very dry time so the creek was non existent and the grass was dry and poky. There was also a lot of smoke from the surrounding wildfires. It was still a nice hike but we’re excited to come back when the wildflowers are blooming and things are a bit more alive.

       

It’s a great place to birdwatch- we saw savannah sparrows, western kingbirds, barn swallows, as well as the birds mentioned above and much more. We also saw a few deer and lots of cows on the drive in!

      

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 150 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Dogs are not allowed in Zumwalt Prairie.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Warnings: None

Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site (Summer)

Directions: Drive I-84 east to La Grande, go north on Highway 82 and follow it into the town of Joseph. Once in Joseph follow Main St. through to the south end of town where the road curves and turns into 8th St. The Park is on the right.

We took a little trip out to Eastern Oregon and this was our first stop. We did an evening hike which was great for wildlife viewing.

From the small parking area head up the dirt path that has a few longer switchbacks and takes you to the top of a small hill. You get views down into a meadow and the Wallowa Mountains off in the distance. The trail soon heads back downhill and follows along the meadow and Silver Lake Ditch, we saw a few deer here which was great. There were many birds in the trees along the trail as well.

      

Soon you’ll come to a split in the trail, we went right towards Knight’s Pond that you can walk around. We also took the trail to the left of the pond and walked along a offshoot of the Wallowa River. Both the pond and the stream are very pretty, there are a couple small bridges over both.

      

From here we wondered around a little bit and then headed out the way we came in. This whole area is very scenic with the mountains, pond, and stream. Add in the deer and how quiet it was and we were very happy we decided to check this place out.

      

Make sure to stop and read some of the informational signs to learn about the history of this beautiful area!

We were here during some pretty intense wildfire smoke and can’t wait to come back when it’s clear out, to get even better views of the Wallowa Mountains. The smoke did make for a pretty great sunset though!

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 80 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking area

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Can be on nice weekends. Seems to be quiet on weekdays.

Warnings: People have seen bears in the area.