The Wild, Wild East

Adventures in Vast and Beautiful Eastern Oregon

Woman in the Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon

Gloriously uncrowded and teeming with terrain both sublime and rugged, Eastern Oregon is truly wild, with natural hot springs, the deepest canyon in North America, and the extraordinary Painted Hills. Go on these adventures and book local expert guides in the region to take the hassle out of planning. Find more inspiration at Oregon, Still Only Slightly Exaggerated.

Steamy and Dreamy

Eastern Oregon hot springs

Alvord Desert in Eastern Oregon

biking the Alvord Desert in Oregon

Frog Spring Alvord Desert

The Alvord Desert is a vast terrain of cracked sediment resembling a jigsaw puzzle pieced perfectly together to create the dreamiest of landscapes. And it doesn’t get any dreamier than soaking in a hot spring backed by beautiful Steens Mountain. Find two soaking pools at Alvord Hot Springs, where the water reaches a balmy 100 to 110 degrees. Stay in one of the new heated bunker units during winter. For a bigger soaking space that’s perfect for sunset viewing, try Crystal Cane Hot Springs.

More Awe-Inspiring Places in Eastern Oregon

Painted Hills

woman hiking Painted Hills Eastern Oregon

guys hiking the Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon

A hilly rainbow of hues shifting with the light of day is one of the most incredible sights in Eastern Oregon. Located in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, the Painted Hills can be viewed from a distance, or accessed more closely via five easy and short paved trails in this unit of the park alone (there are two other units in the area). Gaze in awe as the hues on the hills shift with the daylight in ribbons of marigold and amber and midnight blue. The best time for photography is late afternoon. Winter can cape the hills in snow. Water is not available here, and ideal times to visit are the cooler months.

Burger & Beer Tip: Nearby in the town of Mitchell, stop by Tiger Brewing Co. and pair a burger (including vegetarian options) with a craft IPA.

More Awe-Inspiring Places in Eastern Oregon

The Swiss Alps of Oregon!

hiker in Wallowa Mountains Oregon

Oregon’s “Little Switzerland” is big on natural beauty. More commonly known as the Wallowa Mountains, this magnificent wilderness runs wild, from rivers and summits to seasonal sensations like wildflowers. Its namesake lake is central to the surrounding scenery, which is the ancestral homeland of the Nez Perce tribe. In late spring, early summer, or autumn, embark on a 10-mile hike with waterfalls and wowing vistas via Hurricane Creek Trail, or make it a family day by taking the tram to the top of Mount Howard for panoramas, hiking trails, and a meal at the Summit Grill & Alpine Patio. You can access the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway from here as well, to witness the deepest river gorge in North America. Go jet boating or fishing with the expert outfitters at Hells Canyon Adventures.

Visit the Wallowa Mountains

Homespun Pendleton

Pendleton Hat Company

Pendleton Rodeo

Pendleton River Walk

If the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Pendleton is the beautiful and distinct wool blankets, you’d be correct that Pendleton is where this magic is spun … but there’s a whole lot more to weave into a trip here. Pendleton was named a 2021 Top 10 Western Town in the country for good reason. With the Umatilla River running through its downtown, Western history runs deep, including the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes who lived in the area for over 10,000 years. The annual Pendleton Round-Up is legendary, and craftsmanship among locals is beautiful, from exquisite woolens to the best leather boots—not to mention delicious beer and whiskey. Get a glimpse of the town’s infamous history on the Pendleton Underground Tour.

Photo credits: Travel Oregon, Central Oregon Film Office, Mountains Legacy, Elena Pressprich, Joni Kabana, and East Oregonian.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Photo of the East Brother Light Station in the San Francisco Bay Area

    Oh, Brother!

    Spending the night on a tiny island in the Bay? Intriguing. Spending the night in a lighthouse perched on that island? Sound the foghorn! East Brother Light Station Bed & Breakfast sits on a small patch of land in the strait that separates San Francisco and San Pablo Bays.

  2. Mill About Lakeside

    Bucks Lake Recreation Area near Quincy in Plumas County has plenty of beautiful hiking trails. For an easy hike with beautiful spots for sunning, swimming, and lounging on sand beaches or giant rock slabs, do the Mill Creek Trail.

  3. Camping at Chewing Gum Lake Emigrant Wilderness

    High Sierra Lake Hop

    Situated just north of Yosemite is a High Sierra wonderland that gets a fraction of the crowds and is a fantastic destination for backpacking. The Emigrant Wilderness is 113,000 acres of granite ridges, wildflower-strewn meadows, and cobalt lakes.

  4. The Secret Big Blue

    Set at 4,500 feet, surrounded by 52 miles of shoreline, and with sparkling sapphire hue, Lake Almanor is the other big blue. The secret one. This huge lake—idyllic in spring through fall for all kinds of water adventures—is a gem of Plumas County where you can relax without crowds.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Hot As (Bumpass) Hell

    So you like going to all the hot spots when you visit places? Well, in Lassen Volcanic National Park there’s a place so hot it gets downright steamy. Bumpass Hell is the largest hydrothermal area in the park, with sputtering mud pots, sulfur vents, and boiling pools. It’s California’s Yellowstone.

  2. Bucks Up!

    Come on in, the water is beautiful. Whether you like swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddling, or heading out on a bigger boat, Bucks Lake is a high mountain haven that’s easy to access, blissfully uncrowded, and surrounded by sandy beaches, picnic areas, pines, and aspens.

  3. Starcrossed Stairway?

    Built into the hillside next to the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood Heights delights with historic homes, steep and narrow (mostly carless) streets, and enchanting city views. Best of all, it features a network of walkways and staircases that makes it super fun to wander and explore.

  4. Lunch at the Lakes

    Pack your own picnic and head for a lakeside lunch at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Then take your pick from a lovely trio of lakes accessed from the same trailhead. Follow it all up with a visit to Manzanita Lake on the other side of the park.