Shoehorned between the Elkhorn Mountain Range to the west, the Eagle Cap Wilderness to the east and encompassing parts of the Snake River, Oregon Trail and Hells Canyon, Baker City represents some of the best of Eastern Oregon.
I’m here to tour the town, meet with people and prepare for Cycle Oregon 2015, which will begin and end in Baker City this coming September. We’ve been here three times before, which makes the area – and many faces – familiar. But their kindness, ever-evolving entrepreneurial spirit and the stunning scenic backdrop keeps it ever-fresh and makes it a trip worth repeating again and again.
More than 100 buildings are listed on the National Historic Register here, including the Geiser Grand Hotel, a 19th-century gem constructed in Baker City’s gold mining glory days. For the cycling enthusiast near and dear to my heart, I might suggest they explore all, or parts of The Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway, which stretches 134.5 miles and covers some of the route traveled by pioneers on the Oregon Trail. There also are some other nearby rides and a longer, more challenging route in the Old West Scenic Bikeway. This area also boasts some of the best mountain biking trails in the state and is home to Baker County’s signature cycling event, the Baker City Cycling Classic, a 3-day, 4-stage bicycle race in Baker City and the nearby Elkhorn Mountains.
Baker City has a bit of everything – from guided elk watching tours to art walks to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, where you can learn about life on the Oregon Trail. And when you’re done checking out the sites and experiences, they serve up some tasty food and fantastic libations here too. There is the award-winning Barley Brown’s Beer on Main Street, the Earth and Vine Wine Bar and the Bella Mainstreet Market.
If you aren’t signed up for Cycle Oregon 2015, there’s still some room, and we’ll be in Baker City at the beginning and end. But I also want to encourage you to check out Baker City this spring or summer, or anytime. It might not be referred to as the “Queen City of the Inland Empire” anymore. But it is that for many of us, still.