Eastern Oregon Gravel Grinds, Trains, Trams and Llamas

May 10, 2015 (Updated May 20, 2015)

Folks in Eastern Oregon have a way of thinking outside the box. Settled by 19th-century pioneers, it’s no wonder that these rural communities have their own Wild West approach to travel too. Visit Eastern Oregon for a journey like no other.

Joseph Branch Railriders
If you like bikes and you like trains, you will love the Joseph Branch Railriders. Using unique, four-wheeled recumbent machines that fit on the train rails, riders pedal portions of the historic, 19th-century Joseph Branch rail line. The route passes through the scenic Wallowa Valley with views of the mountains, meadows and working family farms. Options include a 12-mile round-trip pedal from the town of Joseph to Enterprise or a 26-mile journey that travels from Minam to Wallowa and back again.

Eagle Cap Excursion Train
For a more traditional approach to rail riding, climb aboard the Eagle Cap Excursion Train on a different portion of the same historic Joseph Branch rail line. Departing from the town of Elgin, the train follows the Grande Ronde River and parallels the Wallowa River for a backdrop rich in scenery, wildlife and natural beauty. Special event trains include the Elgin Stampede Train Robbery, Mystery & Dinner Train and a fish hatchery train tour.

Wallowa Lake Tramway
The Wallowa Lake Tramway provides views from great heights. Starting at the lakeshore and traveling 3,700 vertical feet to the top of Mt. Howard (at 8,150 feet), the gondola ride offers views of Wallowa Lake, the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the small towns and farms in and around the valley. Relax on the patio of Summit Grill, the highest restaurant in the Pacific Northwest.

Wallowa Llamas
Backpacking of a two-toed variety is what you’ll get with Wallowa Llamas, which offers guided trips into the Eagle Cap Wilderness from their base in the town of Halfway. The woolly critters do the heavy lifting — carrying food, water and camping supplies — leaving backpackers free to enjoy the supreme beauty of the Wallowa Mountains and trails. Hire a guide or just rent a llama for your trip.

Steens, Frenchglen Gravel Rides
For two-wheeled touring with extra grit, gravel and grind, check out the gravel riding near Steens Mountain and Frenchglen in southeast Oregon. The area offers nearly 280 miles of challenging dirt and gravel routes with epic views of the Alvord Desert, surrounding gorges, wildlife refuges, remote desert beauty and hot springs. Visit RideOregonRide.com for more inspiration.

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.