by Pankaj Upreti
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As the name suggests, Eastern Oregon is eastern part of the state of Oregon in the Pacific Northwest region on the West Coast of the United States America. The Snake River borders the Eastern Oregon and Idaho border.

What Is Eastern Oregon Popular For?

Eastern Oregon is one of the top destinations in America. It has many wonders that you’ll think is not possible to be found in an arid desert area. Eastern Oregon is a place that features dry ranch lands, deserts, canyons, and mountain ranges.

Its landscape is a lot different from the other side of the state, that is wet Western Oregon. Although it doesn’t have any official boundary, East Oregon includes eight counties- Union, Umatilla, Morrow, Wallowa, Baker, Grant, Harney, and Malheur. 

East Oregon travel list caters to every type of tourist. For nature lovers there are wide-open landscapes with blue skies, aromatic fields of sagebrush and rough cliff ranges. For adventure lovers looking for some adrenaline, the road map of this vast landscape is open to all the options for them.

Skiing, road trips, biking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling, fishing, going on a road trip, wildlife conservation and photography etc. are some of the popular activities that visitors indulge in here. Foodies can have the best time of their lives here by trying out some of the meals of cowboy country of the Wild West America and gulping it down with some craft beer. 

Traces of the Oregon Trail, extensive beds of prehistoric fossils, numerous state heritage site and silent road to ghost towns will keep history, arts and culture enthusiasts. These are just an introduction to what Eastern Oregon.

The list of best trip ideas for Oregon (Eastern) is vast and diverse. Few of the top trip ideas for here are below. 


A trip to Eastern Oregon is incomplete without visiting this attraction.
HELLS CANYON | Photo Credit – Bonnie Moreland

It is the deepest river gorge in North America at 7,993 feet. The canyon is situated along the eastern border of the state at the Snake River. It is 10-mile-wide (16 km). The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area manages the accessible part of the canyon. A trip to Oregon is incomplete without visiting this attraction.

This slice of wilderness is popular for hosting many recreational activities like fishing, jet boat tours, hunting, hiking, camping, kayaking and canoeing. Visitors can also see a diverse wildlife of the region.

Guide yourself to this attraction of the state and see Dug Bar, Pittsburg Landing, Dam, Kinney Point and other lookout points. 


Considered to be one of the seven wonders of Oregon (Eastern), it is a geologic site located in Wheeler County.
PAINTED HILLS | Photo Credit – Mitchell Friedman

Considered to be one of the seven wonders of Oregon (Eastern), it is a geologic site located in Wheeler County. It comprises colorful hills from various eras when this was an ancient floodplain. There is an abundance of fossils at the Sheep Rock. This makes it a popular spot that paleontologists want to see. It is part of the John Day River Valley and Fossil Beds National Monument. 

A trip to Painted Hills can be done year round but with certain guidelines and restrictions. Visitors can get access to only certain trails to see the beauty of this site.


A popular itinerary of any travel guide to Oregon, Steens Mountain is located in a remote area. Here you can get access to things like camping. It is home to plants like Steens paintbrush, and a wide variety of animals like wild horses, scorpions, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and cougars. Because of being rich in flora and fauna, Steens Mountain is a popular site for doing things like birding, hunting and fishing.  Being away from the pollution of the city, it is also a good site for star gazing. 

Visitors like to go on long drives on the vehicle rodas of the site to enjoy a spectacular view from various view points. Best activities that can be done here are camping, picnicking, running, bicycling, sightseeing, soaring, exploring etc. are done here, both in groups and individually. It also has hot springs at its base including Alvord Hot Springs.


Visitors will also get an opportunity to see animals in Eastern Oregon like Rocky Mountain elk, bighorn sheep and mule deer.
BLUE MOUNTAINS | Photo Credit – Bonnie Moreland

This place is located at Oregon-Idaho border. As you can guess by the name, these mountains look blue in color when seen from a distance. It has the largest organism and fungal mycelial mat called the Armillaria ostoyae. At the south east foothills of the ranges, Grande Ronde river irrigates the land.

It is another spot best known among the visitors for bird watching, wildlife sightings etc. You can see birds like bald eagle, northern spotted owl, Lewis’s woodpecker, Williamson’s sapsucker, red-breasted nuthatch, golden-crowned kinglet and many migratory species.

Visitors will also get an opportunity to see animals like Rocky Mountain elk, bighorn sheep and mule deer. Fishing fish like Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, Redband Trout, Coho Salmon, Bull Trout, and Pacific Lamprey.


OREGON TRAIL INTERPRETIVE CENTER | Photo Credit – Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County

The National Historic Trail Interpretive Center is a center that has multiple exhibits about the road that is the Oregon Trail. It offers living historic demonstrations of nature, pre-emigrant, explorers and pioneers history, interpretive programs, exhibits, multimedia presentations, special events. A trip to this center will be a best visit for history lovers.


Baker City is one of the best known local tourist destinations which offers trips to its nearby ghost towns, hosts numerous events and is home to vibrant colorful streets. Its Historic District is the best place to study architecture of this region.

Here great road trips via Journey through Time Scenic Byway country drive can be enjoyed. Travel here to get your fix of scenic roads. This is also one of the destinations in Oregon that makes up for a great base to explore East Oregon. A wide range of staying options like hotels, bread and breakfast, lodges etc.


Wallowa Lake is formed by historic glaciers of Wallowa Mountains. It is a scenic lake that has Wallowa Lake State Park at its southern tip of the lake. It offers a lot of recreation activities at the scenic crystal clear lake’s landscape.


ALVORD DESERT | Photo Credit – Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

This place is a vast desert from which you will be able to see the horizon. It is also home to a hot spring where you can soak in while enjoying the views of this flatland.


The Eagles Cap Wilderness area is a part of Wallowa Whitman National Forest. The landscape here features numerous peaks, lakes and streams, Alpine forests and wildlife etc. It is another place where you can do recreational things like camping etc.


You can see the lovely landscape of Strawberry Mountains in Eastern Oregon.
STRAWBERRY LAKE | Photo Credit – U.S. Forest Service- Pacific Northwest Region

Located in Grant County, this alpine lake is another top recreational spot where you can enjoy some great views. You can see the lovely landscape of Strawberry Mountains. It is a great spot for hiking, fishing etc.


OWYHEE CANYONLAND | Photo Credit – Bureau of Land Management

In the south-east end of Oregon, Owyhee Canyonlands is a great place for hiking, rafting etc. It is one the wildest lands of North America.

Some great views with a stone labyrinth of chasms and furrowed badlands were created over eons by the erosive actions of the Owyhee River.


This place in  Eastern Oregon is popular for the same reasons as just any other canyon of Oregon.
LESLIE GULCH | Photo Credit – Bureau of Land Manageme

In Malheur County, Leslie Gulch is a canyon that has an abundance of rock formations. It is popular for the same reasons as just any other canyon of Oregon. Enjoy your time by doing activities like biking, climbing etc. here.

Please also read about things to do in Deep Ellum.

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