The Perfect Weekend Loop Through Eastern Oregon
Take off Friday after work and within two hours you can be in Maupin, a tiny town on the Deschutes.
Stay the night at the Imperial River Company with a small selection of rooms overlooking the river or courtyard.
Eat dinner onsite with lots of local options for beef, beer, and wine before you sit around the communal bonfire with a nightcap.
The next morning head east on the 197/97 through the desert landscape with tumbleweeds galore.
Take a stop in the living ghost town of Shaniko, once the wool capitol of the West.
The few locals that still live around the ancient boarded up businesses are happy to have guests.
The main strip features a hotel, built in 1900, that was beautifully restored a few years back and then mysteriously closed soon after.
From Shaniko, hop onto the official Journey Through Time highway taking you through the three main units of the John Day Fossil Beds.
With no restaurants along the way, you'll want to snag sandwhiches to go from Maupin's small market and stop for a picnic lunch at Clarno.
Scientists say the Clarno unit was once a tropical paradise complete with towering palm trees and bananas growing rampant before a catastrophic eruption changed the landscape.
After lunch at Clarno, travel two (gorgeous) hours to the Painted Hills unit.
Once there be prepared to get out and walk up some of the short trails.
Bring your camera.
You'll need it.
After you've hit your fill, head on eastward with a brief detour through the one street town of Mitchell.
See some handcrafted curiousities.
Stop for a coffee or a snack in the Little Pine Cafe before continuing on the three hour bout to Baker City.
See the inexplicable tree of shoes that lives along the highway.
Once in Baker City, spend Saturday night at the Geiser Grand Hotel, built in 1889.
Considered to be quite opulent at the time and the finest hotel between Salt Lake and Portland, the old world details in woodworking and glass still charm.
Eat under the largest stained glass window in the west in their fine dining or have a drink at the saloon.
Before you leave the next morning, grab some breakfast from the Lone Pine Cafe (complete with Portland's Extracto coffee!).
Hop onto 84W and begin the trip home. Stop in Pendleton for a trip to the woolen mills store and stock up on discounted blankets.
Need a saddle? Hamley & Co have a two-story cowboy mecca around since 1883.
Hamley's takes over the whole block with the addition of a steakhouse and bar next to the store.
After hopping back on 84 Portland is just a 3-hour trek home through the Gorge. Back in time for Sunday dinner.