The Oregon I Bet You STILL Don’t Know

The Oregon I bet you STILL don’t know.

As you can see, when I say eastern Oregon I do not mean Bend as some travel bloggers do. I mean further east as in closer to Idaho than the coast. Not many people think of beautiful conifer forests, waterfalls, hot springs, fossil beds, historic sites, roaming elk herds, nor majestic mountain lakes when they think about true eastern Oregon. In fact, I would say not many people outside of the few who live here spend much time thinking about eastern Oregon if they think about it at all. This seems to be particularly true when people are making their travel plans, and that is perhaps the best part about it out here. If you dare to go against the grain (and do a little bit of roughin’ it) there are numerous trails with brilliant views, and historic structures of some form awaiting your discovery year-round with little to no crowds. Read on to learn more about the eastern Oregon I bet you STILL don’t know!

Did you know about the National Forests and other public lands in eastern Oregon with miles of all types of trails?

Hike, bike, backpack, ride a horse or ATV, maybe even Nordic ski! It’s all here depending on the time of year.

A pristine stream during a summer hike in the Steens Mountain Wilderness, Oregon
A wintry, Nordic ski trail that can be found in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Oregon
It’s a short, uphill hike to this breathtaking mountain lake found in the Malheur National Forest, Oregon
On a trail of the Winom-Frazier OHV Complex in the Umatilla National Forest, Oregon – Photo courtesy of RiderPlanet USA.

If you prefer to have a more relaxing visit you can simply camp along a lake, river, or visit a hot spring.

Ritter Hot Springs, Oregon – Photo courtesy of  Zach Urness/ Statesman Journal.
Did you know that eastern Oregon also has one of the most renowned fossil beds in the USA?

They have discovered such unusual fossils like those of ancient, small mammals.

A marsh “rhino” tusk fossil which can be viewed at the Thomas Condon Palentology Center of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon – Photo courtesy of NPS
Did you know eastern Oregon had its own gold rush?

Asian immigrants were participants, and there are even a few active claims still. 

Kam Wah Chung exterior
This strange building holds some incredible wonders. If you are interested in old Chinese medicine and the influence immigrants had on the gold rush you should consider taking the time to visit the historic Kam Wah Chung in John Day, Oregon – Photo courtesy of Oregon State Parks.
Sumpter Valley Dredge
Gold mining was much more than sifting through pans by hand. To learn more visit the Sumpter Valley Dredge in Sumpter Valley, Oregon! – Photo courtesy of Oregon State Parks
Did you know eastern Oregon has fire look outs that are still in operation during the summer?

Their often rugged roads end in some of the best views perfect for romantic sunrises or sunsets and dark sky photography. You can probably stop by and have a chat with the look out too!

A starry night at Dixie look out of the Malheur National Forest, Oregon – Photo courtesy of Matt Franklin
Did you know. . .I purposely did not give you a lot of specific details?

What good is an adventure if you don’t get to put in the effort to discover it for yourself?! I myself have been disappointed by going to places travel bloggers have already given nearly every detail away about. Putting in the time and effort to find these and other hidden gems out here is one of the reasons I fell so in love with it that I now live out here.  I have a continual sense of excitement about the next beautiful creek or historic remnants I may find on my next outing.  I do not want to potentially ruin that sense of excitement for you. Come out and discover it further for yourself! I will give you a hint though: having a vehicle, particularly one for rough dirt roads, is a good idea.

I hope you enjoy whatever your next adventure is! I must admit I hope it is out here.

Top 5 Hikes In Western Washington

Wallace Falls: Gold Bar, Washington

This beginner to moderate level hike is located in Gold Bar, Washington. It begins on the river banks and slowly acclimates to the top of the falls. This hike has a lower stopping point, a mid-point, and the upper falls final stop. The trail is about 4.5 miles round trip.

Rattlesnake Ledge: North Bend, Washington

This intense hike is located in North Bend, Washington. At about 4 miles round trip, this hike will really test your stair climbing as you gain 1,160ft by the time you reach the top. The view is well worth the hard work!

Dog Mountain: White Salmon, Washington

This trail is right on the border of Washington and Oregon, at the base of the Columbia River Gorge. It is 6 miles round trip, with a 2,800 ft elevation gain to the top. Once you reach the peak, the view is unforgettable! Make sure to go around the springtime to see all the flowers blooming on the mountain.

Blanca Lake: Index, Washington

Blanca Lake is a glacier-fed lake hidden within the mountains. The hike is about 13 miles round trip and classified as difficult. Unless you want to hike in the snow, the best time to tackle this trail is in the summer, but you’ll need to get an early start to avoid the heat for the 3,900 ft elevation gain!

Mount Si: Mount Si, Washington

This trail is located in Mount Si, Washington, and it is another elevated hike. At about 8 miles round trip and a 3,200 ft elevation gain, this is considered a moderately difficult hike. Once at the top, you get to look out and view the Cascade Range.

Top 5 things to do in Missoula

Missoula is a vibrant and super friendly place filled with great activities. As an exchange student basically everything you do is new and exciting, but I wanted to highlight these five things. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

1. Hike the M. This is the number one thing to do whilst you are here. The views are spectacular and if you enjoy doing this, you’ll be tempted to try out the other hiking places in Missoula too.


2. Go watch a Griz game! American sports culture is something else and this is an experience you don’t get anywhere else. The atmosphere is amazing and the Grizz community is hilarious. And the best thing is that you have a variety of sports to choose from: football, soccer, volleyball, basketball…


3. Water sports. Rent a tube from rec center (uni students) or buy one, and then go float the Clark Fork river. If you are into different kind of water activities there’s plenty of rafting, canoeing and paddle opportunities. On a warm summer day there’s probably nothing better to do than this.


4. Build a bike! You can do this at the http://www.freecycles.org/ and I guarantee that that you’ll love it. You volunteer for 4 hours and then you get to make your own bike with the help of oh-so-wonderful volunteers. This place truly is a community.


5. Downtown events. Missoula has different kind of festivals, music events, brewery tours etc. You can find more about them here: https://www.missoulaevents.net/. Check at least Caras Park and Roots Festival. You will be able to access all these with you brand new bike too!

By: Eleonora Schirmer

Winter Hike Along the Montana/Idaho Border

by Myles McKee-Osibodu

Quick video highlighting some of the views available along the Montana/Idaho border! Just about an hour and a half southwest of Missoula, Montana, we made a Sunday trip to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest in Idaho County, Idaho. We explored the Mocus Point Trail and surrounding areas, took in some wintertime views and made our way over to the Weir Creek Natural Hot Springs.

Glacier National Park: Visiting in Fall

Written by: Ellie Hanousek

Just 3 hours away from Missoula, Montana sits one of the most pristine and beautiful national parks in the west: Glacier National Park. Planning a weekend trip to GNP in the fall season can be a challenge with the park’s fast-changing mountain weather and wildfire conditions.

Although these can be tricky problems to work around, a visit to GNP during these unpopular times provides an experience unlike any other with minimal traffic, trails to yourself, access to abundant wildlife, and beautiful fall colors. Next time you are planning a trip to Glacier, consider a September or early October visit – you will not be disappointed! If you happen to find yourself in GNP during fall season, here are a few of the must-visit destinations:

Morning Coffee @ Many Glacier Lodge

Kick off the early morning after a night of camping at Many Glacier Lake Lodge. Grab a coffee at the lakeside coffeeshop run by world travelers and sit beside a roaring fire overlooking the lake.

Grinnell Glacier Hike

One of the most rewarding hikes on the east side of the park is Grinnell Glacier. This 7.5 mile out-and-back hike stretches along side bright blue glacial lakes and rocky cliffsides marked burnt orange mountain ash trees and alpine meadows. The trail climbs to a perched valley where you will find Upper Grinnell Lake, where the smallest remaining glacier sits in the park: Gem Glacier. The backdrop of Upper Grinnell Lake is called ‘the Garden Wall’ and is part of the continental divide.

Iceberg Lake

Located in prime bear habitat, it is common to see grizzly bears on the distant hillsides of this 10-mile hike. This moderately difficult hike to the lake includes small crossings over footbridges through alpine meadows. A family of moose inhabit the area surrounding IceBurg Lake and can be seen resting in the shade. If you are brave enough, go for a swim in the glacial waters!

Drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road @ Sunset

During peak season, The Going-To-The-Sun road leading to Logan Pass on both the West and East sides of the park is often the most crowded and trafficked road in the park. However, during fall evenings, the road is completely empty – meaning you can pull over, take photos, and view wildlife on your own time! Bring your binoculars to spot birds of prey, big horn sheep, mountain goats, and bear along the way.

Huckleberry Milkshakes @ Two Sisters Café

Treat yourself after a long weekend of hiking and sightseeing with a Montana famous huckleberry milkshake from Two Sisters Café in Babb, MT. This quirky and colorful restaurant makes a perfect pit stop on the way out of the park!