Eastern Oregon Roadtrip Wrap-up

After spending several days in the Steens area, the Eastern Oregon roadtrip continued for another week. In the course of that week we saw two more mountain ranges — The Elkhorn and the Wallowa Mountains. I hiked three wilderness areas — Steens, North Fork John Day and Eagle Cap. And we saw the most wild animals I’ve ever seen in any comparable amount of time.

Wallowas in the distance

Wildlife spotted, in no particular order: Elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mule deer, rattlesnake, praying mantis, redband trout, spruce grouse, red-tailed hawk, golden eagle, brook trout, coyote, wild mustangs, horned toad and a bunch of unidentified ground squirrells and song birds.

Giant Mule Deer

Towns we liked, included:

  • Baker City for internet cafes, historic streets and BLM Oregon Trail Museum.
  • Joseph for its Fly shop, bronze sculptures and Wallowas view.
  • Enterprise for the Terminal Gravity Brewery pub — absolutely the best bar I’ve ever been in. That bar is enough to make me move to Enterprise: Great beer, darts and boardgames upstairs, good food — plus 4 costume parties a year (did I hear that right?).Joseph, Oregon

    Towns we didn’t like:

  • LaGrande for its Sprawl-Mart strip and deserted downtown.
  • Ukiah is the scene of the next “The Hills Have Eyes” sequel.
  • Granite for being a retiree tourist trap, parading as a ghost town.Mt. Howard Summit

    Fishing: We camped a few nights at Anthony Lake, a beautiful campsite at the base of Gunsight Mountain. Anthony Lake is well stocked, the people were out chucking PowerBait, and some people were doing pretty well, but I couldn’t convince any fish to bite. But on the two lakes, just a mile in either direction (Black Lake, Hoffer Lakes), there were TONS of ridiculously hungry brook trout — and you can have the whole lake to yourself.

    I also fished the Wallowa River, downstream from the town of Wallowa. Stocked rainbow trout were hiding behind every rock and took dry flies, even though the water was only a few inches deep in a lot of spots, and nearly 70 degrees.

    Black Lake brookie

    We did a several hikes, including a 9-mile loop along the Elkhorn Crest, a trip to the Blue Hole on the headwaters of the Imnaha River and the 2 mile loop on top of Mt. Howard. The loop at the Mt. Howard summit is accessible by gondola (Wallowa Lake Tramway), which is the best way to climb 3500 feet in 1.5 miles in my opinion. Unfortunately, it costs $20 to ride it — still debating whether it was worth it. The views are awesome at sunset.

    Mt. Howard Summit

    And that’s about it for Eastern Oregon. Awesome trip. Can’t wait to go back this fall. By the way, if you have suggestions for an upland bird guide or steelhead guide out that way, leave me a message.

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    About mstansberry

    Matt Stansberry currently lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and son.
    This entry was posted in Eastern Oregon. Bookmark the permalink.

    One Response to Eastern Oregon Roadtrip Wrap-up

    1. Andrea says:

      Cute sequel you guy’s put in.

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