Eastern Oregon

Photo by Bob Wick/BLM

Where in the West Should I Go? • 52 Places to Visit in 2022

Rugged Eastern Oregon might not be the first place people think of when they think of luxury. But the Geiser Grand Hotel was once considered the nicest hotel between Salt Lake City and Portland.

Nearly 150 years later, the Baker City icon remains a gem of Old West elegance. Staying here is like stepping back to when you might’ve worn jeans during the day, but a suit to dinner. It’s the perfect base to explore this vast, sparsely-populated region that feels a world away from much rainier (and crowded) Portland.

For starters, there’s the Alvord Desert – it’s like South America’s Salar de Uyuni. There are beautiful trails to explore, mountain biking, skiing, fossil beds (near John Day), and at night more stars than seemingly possible.

La Grande gets overlooked too, but it’s worth wandering Eastern Oregon University’s campus. Near Baker City, many buildings are nearly a century old.

The culinary scene’s also a mix of rustic and refined. Vintage diners are time machines to the 1950s. Having a morning coffee in a bright café with brick walls and exposed wooden beams is a special feeling, as is an evening drink in a bar where you’ll meet everyone from tech entrepreneurs to ranch hands relaxing after a long day.

Baker City itself feels from the 1950s thanks to its architecture, where around a corner you might run into Allison Hayes’ 50-foot woman. Speaking of, there’s a historic cinema still operating, the Eltrym. Its films are modern – mostly.