As the summer season in Oregon is quickly waning, and with fall and winter on the horizon, you’ll want to make your travel plans sooner rather than later. Head for the east-central regions of Oregon, those towns and communities east of the Cascades, and find a wealth of premier attractions, can’t-miss events and festivals, concerts, and more.
As you venture out to the far east of the state, don’t pass on Baker City. Home to the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area – ideal at nearly at any time of the year – the Baker City area is also offering up a pleasant selection of things to do this fall.
Head out to Baker City on October 8th for their 2nd Annual Cast Iron Chef: Dutch Oven Cook-Off. Held at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., this Dutch Oven cook-off features exclusively locally harvested ingredients. Make the quick drive in from La Grande and check it out – come hungry!
Make sure to plan some time for an exploration through the city of John Day, found just to the west of Baker City and north of Hines. John Day will be hosting their annual Grant County Fair & Bullfight from August 10th to 13th. Head for the Grant County Fairgrounds, neatly situated along the John Day River, for a wide range of classic carnival-style entertainment. Rides, games, and plenty of kid’s activities will be in abundance.
On the final day of the Grant County Fair & Bullfight, you can catch a live performance from Sammy Kershaw. A veteran in country music, Sammy Kershaw has 10 studio albums under his belt, and he’ll be performing on stage at the Grant County Fairgrounds Arena. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Cascades in Central Oregon
Later in the fall, when your east of the Cascades exploration has you in Prineville, enjoy a festive Halloween celebration fit for the whole family. Check out the annual Prineville Harvest Party on On October 31st. Visit the Crook County Fairgrounds Indoor Arena for this all-day event where the kids can compete in fun games for candy prizes.
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One of the most memorable rides through Oregon's Central Region is the 82-mile McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway. Ride through Sisters and the Santiam Pass Loop to Camp Sherman and enjoy views of Mt. Washington and Lost Lake. Pass the Upper McKenzie River and detour to explore Sahalie Falls and Clear Lake. Wind further up McKenzie Pass and experience the Lava River National Recreation Trail and the stunning views from The Dee Wright Observatory.
Skiers and snowboarders have exciting options when visiting Central Oregon. Mt. Bachelor Ski Area is only 20 minutes outside of Bend and is set on a massive volcanic cone. It has a reputation for deep powder and hosting international competitions. Nordic skiing, sled dog rides, and snowshoeing are also offered. Hoodoo Ski Area in Sisters offers challenging powder on one side and carefully groomed runs on the other. Snowboarders gravitate toward the Blue Valley terrain.
Much of Central Oregon's abundant natural beauty is a result of explosive volcanic activity. This becomes obvious when you begin to explore the awe-inspiring Newberry National Volcanic Monument. It sprawls over 50,000 acres, and it includes areas like the Lava River Cave, which is the longest lava tube in Oregon. Make time to investigate the Lava Lands Visitor Center, Lava Butte, the Lava Cave Forest, the Newberry Caldera, and stunning Paulina Peak.