Ranging across the northeastern corner of Oregon all the way into southeastern Washington, the Blue Mountains take in scope 4,060 square miles and several peaks over 8,000 feet; and while once their height and breadth was an intimidating obstacle in the path of early pioneer progress, its expanse now makes it ranking destination for outdoors enthusiasts.
Baker City, at the southeast edge of the range, is just off Interstate 84 (I-84) and offers easy access to Anthony Lakes Ski Resort, the North Fork John Day Wilderness and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Stop here for a tour of cultural facilities associated with the Oregon Trail, including the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and the Eastern Oregon Museum in the nearby town of Haines. To the west, ghost towns (like Whitney and Granite) and gold-mining associated sights (try Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area) around Sumpter are the highlights, and visitors can enjoy in summer a ride along a stretch of the historic Sumpter Valley Railroad.
La Grande, 47 miles north of Baker City up I-84, is the next town up of any size. From here it’s a reasonable jaunt on to Lehman Hot Springs (which is a stone’s throw from ATV, snowmobile, hiker and biker trails as well as good fishing holes), west along Route 244, the Umatilla National Forest, to the north, or the Wallowa Mountains, to the east. Come winter and a good blanket of snow, locals from La Grande, Pendleton and Walla Walla, Washington, pursue powder-oriented activities (like snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing) off mountain roads. Spout Springs, a lift-served ski area near Tollgate, north of La Grande at the edge of Umatilla National Forest, also offers downhill runs.