The Grande Tour
The Grande Tour begins and ends in La Grande, the largest city in a three-county area, serving as a center for commerce, education, and state government. The Grande Tour meanders through fertile farmlands, rugged save-covered range lands, and lush forests. Rivers, creeks, and a reservoir color the route and provide ample opportunities to pull over and enjoy a picnic lunch as you enjoy this 95-mile route.
for a driving route map, or pick up a brochure at the Visitor Center, 207 Depot St., La Grande.
Birnie Park, C Ave., La Grande. This park commemorates the Oregon Trail and marks the passage of pioneers through the Grande Ronde Valley. Although trail ruts are no longer visible, a memorial exhibit has been erected at the site.
Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, Foothill Road. The Foothill Road segment of the drive takes you along the eastern edge of Ladd Marsh, a state-designated wildlife viewing area. Bring your binoculars and stop at the viewpoint or nature trail for bird- and wildlife-watching.
Hot Lake Springs, Hot Lake Road and OR 203. Hot Lake Springs, an historic hotel undergoing renovations, was build in 1908 along the rail route. Called the Mayo Clinic of the West, the sprawling complex was build alongside the natural hot springs (212 degrees Fahrenheit) that was used for centuries by native Americans.
Union Hotel, Union. By far the largest building in this Victorian community, the Union Hotel, build in 1923, offers the charm of a bygone era.
Union County Museum, Union. Housed in one of Union's historic buildings, the museum includes the "Cowboys Then & Now" exhibit, along with a fascinating collection of western memorabilia documenting the history of the valley. The museum features a restful courtyard and newly constructed dedicated to agriculture, timber, and transportation. Open Mother's Day through Labor Day.
Pyles Canyon, OR 237. Pyles Canyon, a narrow, twisty route, takes you through historic farmland as you transition from lush fields to sagebrush desert. You'll have a good view of the Elkhorn Valley Wind Farm from here. From OR 237, turn on to OR 203, Medical Springs Highway, which takes you up and over the Catherine Creek Summit.
Thief Valley Reservoir, OR 237. Named after John Wetherly, who was accused of stealing four mules from a Boise emigrant, then hanged by vigilantes. The reservoir is formed by a dam on the Powder River, and is a popular place for windsurfing, fishing, and boating.
Medical Springs, OR 237. Established around 1868, this hot springs became a popular resort destination around the turn of the 20th Century.
Catherine Creek State Park, OR 237. A popular picnic and camping spot, divided by Catherine Creek. Day hike trails, tables, and rest facilities available.
Ascension Chapel, Cove. Ascension Chapel, built in 1869, is one of the highlights of Cove. This Episcopal Church, visited by esteemed guests Desmond Tutu and Edmond Browning, features stained glass windows shipped around the Horn.
Gilstrap Brothers Winery, Angles Lane, Cove. Stop at Eastern Oregon's only commercial winery. Visit the tasting room and tour the grounds for a breathtaking view of the Grande Ronde Valley from this hillside setting.
Ackles Cemetery, Mt. Glen Rd. Established in 1866, this wind-swept cemetery includes some graves of the Grande Ronde Valley's earliest settlers.
Most of the road is paved, with sections of well-maintained gravel. Suitable for all transportation modes, although reduced speed may be necessary for safe passage in some areas.