Anytime is a good time to visit Eastern Oregon, but there’s something particularly right about visiting in fall when the foliage transforms the landscape into a quilt of color, grange halls and main streets bustle with town events, and sunny afternoons turn to cool evenings that’ll send you reaching for an extra blanket to snuggle up under.
A good portion of Eastern Oregon is dedicated to agriculture, so fall is a great time to bring your kids or grandkids to enjoy harvest at a working farm, see what life on a ranch is really like, sample the goods firsthand at a local creamery, chocolate maker, brewery or vineyard, and enjoy the full fall bounty courtesy of a restaurant that doesn’t require reservations weeks in advance.
Keep in mind Eastern Oregon takes up almost a third of the state, so give yourself a week or long weekend to explore. If you’re a wine lover, head to Milton-Freewater and tour the Whisky & Rocks Farm Loop, nestled in the beautiful Blue Mountains and home to orchards, wheat fields and wineries known for Syrah, Grenache, and Cabernets whose unique, expressive taste is due partly to the cobblestone terrain the grapes are grown in, which drains faster and allows roots to plant deeper.
For a taste of farm life and picture-postcard views around every turn, head towards La Grande and take a self-guided tour of the Cove-Union Farm Loop. It winds through U-pick produce stands and orchards, dairy farms–even a worm farm!–as well as downtowns full of historic buildings and cafés serving local fare.
If you’re looking for some elbowroom, head to the Southeastern Oregon where cattle substantially outnumber people. The Peter French Round Barn and visitor center is a great place to brush up on the region’s ranching legacy, and the nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a must stop for bird lovers. And if you’re out that way, don’t miss the Steens Mountain with its four distinct glaciers. While there, stay at the Steens Mountain Guest Ranch and don’t forget to pack some cowboy boots.
For more trip ideas and itineraries, explore visiteasternoregon.com