By Marlene Flynn
Big Sky Country is not the exclusive property of Montana. With a number of ways to approach the magic that is Oregon, one of the best is to enter from the east. Baker City has been called the “base camp of eastern Oregon,” and for good reason.
About four miles off I-84, Baker City offers authentic Main Street townscape steeped in history. Barley Brown’s Brew Pub on the corner of Church and Main is a good spot to plot your next stops over a pint of award-winning Shredder’s Wheat amber.
In summer the region’s rugged, unmatched beauty is best experienced via the granite and gravel of the nearby Phillips Lake Loop or Broadway Flow Trail by bike. The guys at The Trailhead Shop on Main can help with the gear and point you toward true high-alpine adventure.
The nearby Geiser Grand Hotel, opened in 1889, lends the visitor a chance to mingle with local ranchers under the warmth of original chandeliers. The Victorian hotel was once known as the “Queen of the Mines” in a land loaded with mining history. The lobby opens to high ceilings coffered in stained glass and trimmed in mahogany, leading you to the bar.
Baker City offers a cozy outpost to the rough country of the nearby Snake River, the Oregon Trail and Hells Canyon. The drive West on I-84 passes through the mountains Elkhorn, the Blues and the Little Alps. Deadman’s Pass and Cabbage Hill give views of valley farmland majesty in hues of rose, amber, green and gold.