Road Trip: Ontario

January 31, 2014 (Updated December 19, 2016)

There’s a town they call Ontario, and it’s not the one in the Neil Young song. Oregon’s Ontario, at the state’s eastern edge, is the gateway to arid desert beauty, stunning river canyons and towering mountain ranges. Any time of year, but especially in winter, this little town of 11,000 is a great sunny destination.


Breakfast, beer and burritos buenos: Start your day at Jolts & Juice Company in historic downtown Ontario. Enjoy a cup of freshly roasted Jack Henry Coffee and take in the quirky décor. Fruit smoothies, breakfast paninis and pastries round out the breakfast menu. Lunch options include soup, sandwiches and salads. Craft beer from nano-brewery Tandem Brewing is made onsite. Tacos Mi Ranchito, another local favorite, offers a host of freshly made Mexican specialties — shrimp tacos, chimichangas and a burrito in a bowl.

Two-wheeled treasure: Situated in what locals call Treasure Valley, Ontario is seriously beautiful road bike country. Sunny days, light traffic and scenic back roads make for excellent touring. Check in with the folks at Eastern Oregon Cycles to get recommendations on local rides. Get your own wheels spinning at the Great Owyhee Ride Against Hunger on June 18, 2016. The 100-mile, 50-mile and family rides all begin in the lovely old downtown and wind through the beauty of the high desert countryside. The ride benefits the Oregon Food Bank. Read more about the Great Owyhee on Ride Oregon Ride.

Cultural connection: Make time for the Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum. Named for the geographic convergence of the Snake, Malhuer, Owyhee and Payette rivers, the museum celebrates the various ethnic cultures that merged in the landscape — Native American, Basque, European, Hispanic and Japanese. The center includes a museum, gallery, Japanese Garden and theater. The annual America’s Global Village Festival takes place June 4, 2016 and celebrates 10 different cultures with food, arts and crafts, cultural demonstrations and kids activities.

About The

Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.