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Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

Beaverton, OR
posts: 18
reviews: 10
Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

My wife, 8-year-old daughter and I are planning on taking a 5-6 day driving trip to Eastern Oregon in late June. Although from the Portland area, we have never gone through that part of the state except on I-84 on the way to Boise.

We definitely are going to drive to the Wallowa's and Hells Canyon, and plan on hitting Shaniko and Fossil on the way there.

My questions:

1) What are recommendations for hotels/motels in the Wallowa/Enterprise/Joseph area? How about Baker City? We looked at the internet and the Condon Hotel looked cute. Has anyone stayed there? What about hotels in Fossil, Antelope, or Shaniko?

2) What ghost towns would you recommend? Also, I have heard there are areas that you can pan for gold, but I don't know where. Does anyone know?

3) Once we hit the Wallowas, we can either head back towards Portland on the Oregon side or head up to Lewiston/Clarkston and Pullman/Moscow. Is there anything worth seeing in those towns or should we just stay in Oregon?

4) What activities can anyone recommend for our daughter? We know about the tram in Joseph and that you can dig for fossils in Fossil. Any other things that can't be missed?

5) Any other suggestions on short hikes, good and bad roads, scenic drives, restaurants, etc. is appreciated.

Oregon
Destination Expert
for Newport, Depoe Bay
posts: 8,207
reviews: 42
1. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

Wow an Eastern Oregon query. Not many of those.

Don't know your daughters interest, but suggest you take her on a few hikes Out of Wallowa Lake towards Eagle Caps could be one.

One nice fairly short hike is to Strawberry lake out of Prairie City Strawberry Mtns. we took our kids there when we lived in John Day

Oregon Trail museun in Baker City good exp for kid, very well done. Umatillas have good museum in pendleton, my favorite American mus site i have visited

From Joseph I suggest you follow Hells Canyon Scenic Byway to Baker City, be sure to drive on down to Snake River at oxbow to see what an impressive river the Snake is.

From Baker City head to John Day, then to Fossil beds

Think you might be disappointed with ghost towns, not much there at most of them

Oregon
Destination Expert
for Newport, Depoe Bay
posts: 8,207
reviews: 42
2. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

My response would have longer had you said Beavers. Some of us spent a few years at Corvallis

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
posts: 16,765
reviews: 45
3. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

Check out the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on the web. It's a birders' heaven. You see many and varied birds just on a slow and level drive. Your daughter might find it interesting to play "spot the birds" and "how many kinds". You might, also.

oregon city
posts: 790
reviews: 4
4. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

Yeah- Eastern Oregon!!! 5-6days will only leave you wanting more! :)

I've stayed at the Geiser Grand hotel in Baker City-very nice an old hotel that's been fixed up pretty nice. I thought it was much more interesting than staying at the chain hotels at the interstate off ramps.

Last summer I went to Fossil and did the fossil dig-it was fun for me-so I;m sure your 8yearold will love it.

Definetly go to the John Day Fossil Beds-the new interpretive center has a nice blend of 'easy to read stuff' and more 'scientific' stuff for people that want to get into the geology more. Most people miss the old farmstead museum for the new center, but the farmstead is worth a stop. if interested, they also have guided hikes, star parties on designated days-I'd call them if interested. Blue Basin Trail is a short hike that gets you close up to the colored rocks.

Kam Wah Chung Mueseum in John Day is definetlly worth a stop if you are at all interested in Chinese miners and life in the 'early days'. I went there as a kid and as an adult and it definetlly left an impression on me.

One of my favorite routes I-84 to Hwy 206 to Hwy 19 to Hwy 26 on to John Day. You go through wheat fields, canyons, forests, mountains& John Day country geology.

Oregon
Destination Expert
for Newport, Depoe Bay
posts: 8,207
reviews: 42
5. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

Chinookgrl 206-19-26. Wonder how many others have been on that route. That was our normal way to PDX in the years we lived in John Day. Glad to hear someone else likes it

Kah-wah-chung? I was on the 3 member rec comm of the Grant Co Planning Comm. One day a fellow member called and said I got something to show you. This was late '60s we met at the old chinese bldg. He had gotten key from a family member. we went in what a mess. but also what a treasure. Must have been locked for 50 years then. Little bottles, packages, other old chinese things all over. He led move to restore and make it an attraction

Same guy said one day maybe we should have a National Park for Fossil Beds. He was fairly politically connected. He was able to get Tom Thayer a nationally recognized archeologist to visit a few times. Then we organized a trip for vips including then US rep Al Ullman for a field trip. Without going into all the stuff that happened it did make Nat Monument status. The most I did was encourage him to keep moving. Though did add support for him with local politicians.

Not sure he ever got credit he deserved.. He was local Chev dealer.

Grant Co was a great place to live. wonder sometimes why i ever left

Florence, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Oregon Coast
posts: 5,724
reviews: 13
6. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

My three favorite things east of the Cascades are (in no particular order): 1-The Sunridge Inn in Baker City. Truly a very nice motel w/ nice sized rooms and nice grounds at a good rate. Get a ground floor unit that opens to the pool. It's the best! 2-Sumptner Dredge. I'm a bit of a history buff, but the whole idea of these giant dredges scouring through the valleys of Baker County, and the Chinese immigrants following along behind, both looking for gold, is very interesting to me. 3- The Sumptner Valley Railroad. Take an evening ride fom the station to the dredge on an old steam locomotive! Really cool!

~Den~

oregon city
posts: 790
reviews: 4
7. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

Wow phril!!! Thank you for helping to preserve that local history! :)

If it wasn't for the work of the 'little guys' that never get all the credit they deserve we wouldn't have half the treasures we enjoy today.

Where's the chev' dealer? The only car dealership I remeber is the Ford on the corner of the only stoplight in Grant County. :)

Beaverton, OR
posts: 18
reviews: 10
8. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

Wow! Thank you for all the replies so far! Advice is appreciated, even from Beaver fans.

My daughter really seems excited to dig for the fossils in Fossil, and wants to pan for gold if anyone knows of a place. Would she be bored at the Kam Wah Chung or is it good for kids?

As for ghost towns, I was told that Whitney and Richmond were still pretty well preserved. Has anyone driven to Lonerock? Is it worth the drive?

Chinookgrrrrl mentioned taking Hwy 206 to Condon. We had planned on taking Hwy. 97 to Shaniko and loop around to Condon. Is 206 a nicer drive than 97? And is it worth staying a night in Condon? It looked like a cute little town from the Hotel Condon website.

As for the Geiser Grand Hotel, my parents stayed there in September and had a pretty poor stay. They had problems with their room and management was unreceptive, so they left a day early. They enjoyed the restaurant, but advised against staying there. Maybe we will try the Sunridge Inn that was suggested.

Please keep the comments coming and thanks for the help! This is my first forum post and appreciate all comments.

Oregon
Destination Expert
for Newport, Depoe Bay
posts: 8,207
reviews: 42
9. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

Chev dealer was a block or two south of Main St on Hwy to Canyon City. My friend's f-i-l was owner.

Oregon/Washington
Destination Expert
for Portland, Sunriver
posts: 8,768
reviews: 70
10. Re: Driving Trip in Eastern Oregon

Another Beaver fan here;)

I can't help much for advice, unless you want to backpack, lol! But I would love to hear about your trip afterward, so please let us know.