Hunting for Eastern Oregon’s Fall Colors

Eastern Oregon University library

Eastern Oregon University library, La Grande

Oregon’s east side is a landscape of diversity. Often pictured as “high desert,” this expansive region actually is home to five mountain ranges, the deepest river gorge in North America, two National Scenic Byways, three Oregon byways, and yes, a sagebrush or two. Fall golden colors are found in cottonwoods and quaking aspen along the rivers and trickling down gullies on the rolling hills like warm yellow honey. The bright red sumac bushes are stunning in the fall and often provide a nice respite for deer, elk, and even an occasional black bear. Lining the quiet streets of Eastern Oregon’s historic little towns, you’ll find maple, birch, and horse-chestnut showing off their colors. Not to be up-staged by the foliage, the geology also offers an amazing pallet in the rock and sediment formations of the John Day River Territory.

Painted Hills

Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Traveling to the eastern portion of Oregon does take a bit of planning for your fall color hunting trip. The tank needs to be full; the evenings will be chilly, so throw on a jacket and a pair of good shoes. There are plenty of options for accommodations and many great places to fill up the ‘tummy’ tank too. After a day of hiking or driving the scenic byways hunting for colors, a hand-crafted beer is definitely in order. Eastern Oregon’s six micro-breweries are becoming known worldwide. Pick up a ‘Beer Tag’ (yes, hunting is BIG in this region, even when hunting beers!) in Pendleton, Baker City, Joseph, Enterprise, La Grande, or Ontario and participate in this ‘Controlled Hunt’ to sample some great beers.

Union House
Union House

The best time to visit Eastern Oregon for colors is late September into November. Find more at:


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