1859’s Trip Planners are your source for exploring the great state of Oregon. Whether you are a local looking for a weekend family getaway or just visiting, each article is an insider’s guide to the best trips in Oregon.
In 1915, the two largest sawmills in the country (Shevlin-Hixon and Brooks-Scanlon) sat facing each other across the Deschutes River in Bend. It’s doubtful that anyone could have, through all that smoke, predicted that one day the small timber town would morph into a winter recreation destination. Perhaps a few of the Swedish and Norwegian loggers and mill workers, who brought the ski sports to Bend and Central Oregon, might have had a momentary flight of fancy that involved a future with an alpine ski area, miles of cross-country ski trails and possibly more breweries than churches.
Eons of spewing volcanoes and cataclysmic floods created the Columbia River Gorge, where Oregon’s grandest river rolls through towering cliffs of basalt. Even Congress agreed this place was special. Twenty-five years ago, it named the Columbia River Gorge the country’s first National Scenic Area, protecting the Columbia’s most dramatic stretch, the eighty-five miles between the Sandy and Deschutes rivers.
There’s a good reason it’s known as the Wallowa Country. An hour east of La Grande, you drop into a canyon along the Wallowa River, pinball around the bends and drive into a valley of small towns with a high-alpine backdrop worthy of a red-eye to the Alps. This is a vertical world that sits on the precipice of the Hell’s Canyon gorge and is home to more than thirty 9,000-plus-foot peaks, the most in the Pacific Northwest.