Eastern Oregon 2021

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AdvLTC, Jul 12, 2021.

  1. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Washington State
    Eastern Oregon, 7 Days (3-9 July); Total Mileage – 2,012.6 miles; Avg MPG – 63.9.

    I’m going to try to keep my notes brief, so if you would like more info on something let me know and hopefully I’ll get back to you. The things that amazed about the trip was how little traffic there was. Why didn’t I see more motorcyclists? And why aren’t some of these roads famous among motorcyclists – i.e. - 185 curves in less then 10 mile section.

    Day 1: Saturday, 3 July 2021 – Total Miles 439.8. Home to Bull Prarie Forest Lake CG (Hwy 207 north of Spray, OR), Left Home 0615 Stopped 1900.

    I left my home near Port Orchard, WA early thinking it being a holiday weekend traffic would be heavy but I was wrong. The entire day, traffic was very light to non-existent on the roads I took. Once I got to Shelton, WA I took back road thru McCleary > Oakville > Adna. From Adna I had to take “major” road (HWY 508) but even that had no traffic. These road were thru forested and open farm lands.

    At the town of Randle, WA I turned south on what I believe is FS30 – the road the traverses the back of Mt St Helen’s and goes to Windy Ridge. Windy Ridge is an overlook of Mt St Helens and the destruction the vulcano did ot the area. Great place to check out. This time instead of taking FS30 south, I took Cispus Road towards Trout Lake. It starts out paved and goes thru dark old growth (which was great as we were in record highs this week hitting over 100 degrees). The middle part of this road has about 12 mile gravel section before hitting asphalt again and connecting up to FS23 and the curves into Trout Lake.

    Just before the Trout Lake store (which is all of Trout Lake), I took Sunnnyside Rd towards Glenwood. This was a nice drive along farms with a nice climb and view. After Glenwood opens up a bit with some farms and great views of Mt Adams before going back into the Pines and followings a deep canyon (off to your left thru the trees) before it climbs up a narly pass that twists and turns the entire way up. Be careful, last year going up here and Porsche group was coming down and one moron was way over the line on a turn. This year, I had the entire climb all to myself. If your looking for camping, there are many spots after Glenwood to pull over and setup camp among the pines. After the bug climg you eventually open up to a valley all the way to Goldendale, WA. Goldendale is the “largest” town on this route. From Goldendale you have to take a majot highway (97) south to Oregon. It the only road there is. I have always been lucky and had little traffic here. A warning here, the wind is very extreme thru hear and will push you around. Its only 12 miles down the hill to the Columbia River (and still more wind). At the river you can visit the duplicate of Stonehedge Memorial. It overlooks the Columbia and is a nice place to settle your nerves after the winds. Also there is the Maryhill State Park which is very nice.

    Crossing the river you enter Briggs, OR. It’s a has eating places and is a fueling spot before heading into Oregon. From Briggs I took Hwy 206 to Wasco and onto Condon. It climbs uphill thru canyon from Briggs to Wasco, then your in open wheat fields and wind farms to Condon. It’s windy thru here but nothing bad. Wasco was 101 degrees when I drove thru. I took about an hour and half out & back ride east on a gravel road thru a wind farm to see the Oregon trail. Some maps have this gravel road as a thru road – it’s not! It dead ends at a river.

    In Condon main street (one block) was shutdown for a town 4 of July party. I always try to eat here in Condon at the burger joint at the end of town.

    From Condon I took a new route this year staying on Hwy 206 to Hardman, OR. I can see why its called Hardman and it looks like its had a hard time. Hard has no services. Condon does have petrol station. Halfway between Hard and Spray you climb a mountain pass. There are a couple of campgrounds up there. The one on the east side of the road is very nice. It’s about a mile off the road and sits next to a small lake. It was pretty full, but spots are private. It has running water and clean bathrooms.

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  2. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Day 2: Sunday, 4 July 2021 – Total Miles 260.3. CG to Steens Mtn. Started 0915 Stopped approx 1745.

    Another hot day over 100 degrees. I’m just wearing a bohn summer armor shirt and a light leather vest. I took a short break at Kimberly, OR at the John Day Trading Post waiting for it to open to fuel up. They have non ethanol fuel here. I enjoyed a coke in the shade before heading south to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. This was a nice open canyon drive along a river, although very hot. I hit Hwy 26 expecting traffic, but again nothing. At the town of Dayville, I had to wait about 20 minutes (in the hot sun) as Hwy 26 was closed for a short kids 4th of July Parade. I was the first vehicle in line when we stopped and I enjoyed the parade while talking with a local deputy.

    After the parade, it was on to John Day. Being the 4th the entire town was shutdown expect the Sinclair fuel station/mini-mart. Even the restaurants I ate at previously were closed. From John Day I headed south on Hwy 395 towards burn. You do steep, curvy climb south of town thru old forest fire burn before setting into the woods on a fun curvy road. There are a couple of open areas and straightaways where you hit some wind thru the Silvies Ranch area. Then back into the mountains and curves into Burns. Burns is good sized town with several gas stations, grocery stores, hotels and restaurants. They all seemed to be open even though it was Sunday and a holiday. I stopped for fuel and a Oreo Blizzard at the always packed DQ. Taking Hwy 78 out of Burns, a couple of miles outside town I turned off on Hwy 205 heading towards Frenchglen, OR and Steens Mountain. The first part of the road is open cattle country and is windy. The road runs perfectly straight for many, many miles. Then climb a short hill with a forever view, then it’s back down to desert and another long straightaway. Here I hit a dark cloud and a few rain drops for about 5 minutes and it felt good! Off the your left along this route is the huge (and somewhat famous) Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    I finally hit Frenchglen around 1500 hrs or so. Frenchglen has a small store and fuel station, a Historic Hotel State Park and a school. It’s also the turn-off for Steens Mtn loop. Steens Mtn loop is 57 mile gravel road. It’s in good condition even for cars. I was able to travel between 30-40 most of the time on 90/10 tires. I stopped at the first campground on the loop and couple miles in. I found one nice shady spot but when I came around again on the CG loop it was taken so I drove on. The road gradually climbs and is wide open scrub pine land. The next two campgrounds were small but looked filled up. Apparently it’s were the horse riders stay. Both were by small ponds and seemed to have a lot of bugs so I drove one. Most of the cars you pass will be pickups and and pretty good at slowing down and giving friendly waves. The one exception was the guy in a Audi SUV flying way over the speed limit and did not wave back. (Obviously he was from Portland!).

    Don’t pass up the first viewpoint, which is a short turn-off about half mile off the main road. It’s a great view looking north thru a huge green valley. Back onto the main road, it’s short drive till you reach the highest spot and have amazing views. Personally I think the view to Alvord was the coolest. The clouds were letting the sun thru and there was a cool glow down on the desert floor. Also, I was up at 9000+ feet and it was about 20 degrees cooler then at Frenchglen. It felt really nice?

    Coming around the loop, the south side climbs down a steep curvy road with drop offs going down hundreds of feet. Here you have great views as well. Once coming down and leveling out I hit the South Steens Campground where I spent the night. Nice spread out spaces in scrub pine. Most spots were shady and I did get the last open spot. At night you will never see more stars then you do here, it’s awesome. Another plus was no bugs.

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  3. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Steens Mountain

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  4. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
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    More Steens Mtn

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  5. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Day 3: Monday, 5 July 2021 – Total Miles 201.1. Steens Mtn CG to near Seneca, Started 0913 Stopped 1525

    First 19.7 miles were gravel from the CG out to the main road Hwy 205. Saw wild horses on the way out. I stopped for gas & coke at Frenchglen 10 miles away once you get back on the hardball – it was already in the 90s at this point.

    Heading north on Hwy 205 towards Burns, I took the Diamond / Lava Bed turnoff. This is all open desert. There is one sightseeing place to see – a round Barn. Other then that just rolling desert sage land. I like this, some people think its boring. I hit Hwy 78 at New Princeton (not really a town) and headed north into Burns. This road is all open farmland and can get breezy but nothing bad. At Burns it was time for another Blizzard at DQ, fuel and then heading north on a road listed on the map as 127 turning into 37. At this point let me point out a VERY important note. I used three different maps, not any of them are 100% accurate. This route was proof as 37 turns into rough washboard gravel road for several miles – it was not fun. I did some wild horse right next to the road and I had this 2 hr + ride all to myself with no traffic. It starts out open hilltop valley then goes into woods as you hit gravel. Finally hit asphalt again couple of miles before hitting Hwy 395 at the Silvies Ranch entrance.

    I headed north on Hwy 395 to Seneca, then east on the only road towards what the map said were campgrounds. I stopped at Parish Creek Campground which is surrounded by an old forest fire burn area. The camp still had its trees. The CG had running water so I decided to stay. I wash able to take a bath and rinse out my clothes. They dried quickly in the 90+ degrees and nice breeze. I was the only one here the entire time. I did have a strange thing happen in the middle of the night. I heard walking on the gravel campground road. It sounded just like I did walking so I thought it had to be a human not an animal. I called out asking if anyone was there. It stopped for a second and continued on. I then repeated saying “if someone is there speak up because I am heavily armed”. At that point it stopped. A couple of minutes later I did here deer run off in another part of the campground. Not sure what it was? If it was a cow (this is open range and they were close by) they usually moo and the steps stopped and never continued on. I wouldn’t think deer hooves could make so much noise and sound just like me walking? Anyway it stopped and nothing else happened that night.

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  6. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Day 4: Tuesday, 6 July 2021 – Total Miles 297.6. East of Seneca to Dixie Pass CG (near Prairie City), Started 0845 stopped 1715

    Another great day – so many curvy roads with no traffic. Heading north I hit Prairie City and fueled up. I then headed on Hwy 26 east towards Baker City. On the first mountain pass I climbed I ran into several miles of butterflies. Yes, you read that right – several miles. By the end of it the bike, panniers, my helmet and me were covered in yellow guts. I have never seen anything like this before. On this day I hit to roads that I am not sure why they are not famous among motorcyclists, especially the crotch-rocket types. The first one was Hwy 245 were it turns north just past the “town” of Hereford. The road climbs a pass for several miles. My motorcycle map says it has 185 corners in this short section. It was amazing. The only problem is one missed corned and it’s a good 1000 feet down. I would not recommend this for beginners or those afraid of heights. Nothing is on this road but forest land – no homes or traffic traffic get in your way.

    After Baker City and lunch I headed north to Haines. There I took the Scenic By-Way road listed as road 1140 on my motorcycle map. This is a great road for all abilities. It nice big curves climbing up and down a mountain pass. 60+ miles I saw two other cars and three bicyclists. Very nice ride. I took this road into Ukiah and much needed gas. Ukiah does have gas but it’s cash only. I stopped at the little store there for a cold coke and picked up a used paper back for night time reading. They store has a huge selection of used books. I bought a Louie Lamour book and coke and it only cost $1 even!

    From Ukiah I took road 52 thru a nice wooded valley along a river and occasional farms. You pass thru one “town” which is a school and couple of houses and an old historic (closed down) store. It was getting late and I was tired so I started looking for campgrounds. The first one I came to USFS Middle Fork CG was small and shady but had no water. Next was the Bates State Park at the end of 52. It’s looks new and is very nice if you have a trailer. All the slots are in direct sun light and designed for trailers not temps and since it was still in the 90’s I was not going to sit in the sun for couple more hours and roast. Note – Bates SP is not listed on some maps.

    I came back onto Hwy 7 and headed west towards Prairie City. I then came upon Dixie Pass CG off the road a bit. It was small, 9 slots spread out, and only one other person there, but had no water. I stayed there. It was not bad bug wise.

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  7. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Day 5: Wednesday, 7 July 2021 – Total Miles 290.5 miles. Dixie Pass CG to Hillyard Junction SP (near La Grande), started at 0845 stopped 1635.

    I went to bed thinking I was going to head back up towards Washington today, then at breakfast to I decided to go the opposite way. I took Hwy 7 east into Baker City, then jumped on Hwy 85 towards Oxbow Dam and Hells Canyon. 85 starts out open hilly sage country. I stopped at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center which was closed but had some great views of Baker Valley. Next was the town of Halfway. You come over a short pass and have view of this beautiful valley and that’s were Halfway sits. I thought this was pretty cool. I then headed to Oxbow dam and the Snake River. They have a bridge there so I was able to cross over into Idaho and take a photo of “entering Oregon”.

    Backtracking a few miles from Oxbow, I took Hwy 250 north towards Joseph, OR. The first half of this route has many places you can camp at. It’s forested road with gentle curves the entire way. I admit, I did get tired of all the curves as the route is over 60 miles to Joseph. Along the way you can take a short side road to the Hells Canyon Overlook. Awesome views here.

    Joseph was a small tourist-looking outdoor type town. It was crowded so I did not go thru it. I stopped at the next town, Enterprise which is bigger then Joseph, for fuel and a short break. Enterprise has fuel stations, places to eat, a Safeway, etc. From Enterprise to Wallowa is open farm land. I did hit wind here but nothing extreme. At Elgin I turned south to LaGrande and hit wind again here into LaGrande.

    I was getting tired and looking to stop. I had to jump on the major Highway 84 at LaGrande to go to the next exit as there are no other ways around (about 7 miles on 84). On exit 252 there was a State Campground – Hillyard Junction. It’s small but the slots are shaded and there is running water. The only problem was the constant noise of the freeway. I did not sleep well because of it.

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  8. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
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    Location:
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    Entering into Idaho

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  9. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Day 6: 8 July, 2021 – Total Miles 365.3 miles. Outside La Grande to Outside Randle, WA Started 0840 stopped 1835.

    I’ll start off by saying most of the day was windy. From just outside Ukiah, OR until I was north of White Salmon, WA I had winds. I took Hwy 244 from the campground to Ukiah. Nice relaxing wooded and curvy road along a river. From Ukiah I took a road – not sure what its called – thru the mountains to Heppner. This is a nice paved road, with no traffic, thru open range land. Mostly wooded. It does go thru the mountains so its definitely to a straight road.

    Heppner seemed like a neat little town. I fueled up there and took a short coke break. It was already in the 90s. I then traced my route back thru Condon, Wasco, and intro Briggs. Crossing over the Columbia I pulled in to check out the Maryhill State Park. It looks very nice. All fresh cut grass, shaded and pretty big park. I’ll have to try this place sometime. Note= It is always windy here (your in the Columbia River Gorge).

    Next I had the long windy climb up Hwy 97 towards Goldendale. I was anxious to see how my Versys 300x would handle this hill and the wind being fully loaded. Not only did “she” maintain the speed limit, we actually passed cars and trucks who could not maintain their speed!

    Once cresting the climb, I took the Centerville Highway to check out the town of Cenerville. This is all open rolling wheat farms. I was disappointed, the only thing there is a school. I then took the road north and ended up back in Goldendale. I quickly got back on Hwy 142 heading west towards Trout Lake. This section is a beautiful open valley of cattle farms and views of distant Mt Adams. This year I took a new route an stayed on 142 back down thru town of Klicktat and the Columbia River Gorge. Nothing special about this road. It drops from high valley into the Gorge following a river. The start of the road is up high and curvy (slow going) full of slippery tar snakes. My rear tire slide on several of these on the corners even going at a slow speed. After couple miles the tar snakes stop. Last couple miles on this road before hitting Lyle the gorge winds start hitting. From Lyle to White Salmon is along the river were I hit the most severe winds of the trip. Just use caution here. Out in the river you can view the many wind surfers. Having not been in White Salmon since I was a kid in the late 70’s it sure has changed. No longer a blue collar town, it appears to be a upper class weekend / retirement place now. What a difference.

    From White Salmon I took 141 north to Trout Lake. This is road is a forested road. At Trout Lake I took the only road going west. It shows as a main road going towards the eventually western Washington town of Cougar. I’m going to summarize this – its only partially paved, the roads are not marked well and it’s easy to get off on side roads which somehow I did. Use GPS if you have it. Enough said.

    My maps showed campgrounds near FS30 (the road going to Randle – see day 1) which never did appear. Getting tired and already over 300 miles for the day, I let my Ninja engine go and really took on the curves going up FS30 towards Randle. That road is a blast of curves, BUT it has many potholes and sunken patches of road. I finally came upon USFS Campground just south of Randle that had open spots. It’s pretty big CG with three different loops. I was on loop A which all the slots are private and not close to each other.

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  10. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Day 7: Friday, 9 July 2021 – Total Miles 157.7 miles. Near Randle, WA to home via Mt Rainier NP. Started at 0615 stopped 1110

    I’ll sum up this day quickly. From Randle I hit the White Pass Hwy (Hwy 12) to the Mt Rainier turn off. Being early, HWY 12 had very little traffic but the sun was rising and make it hard to see. The turn-off to Mt Rainier and the climb up to Paradise was great as I had no traffic and was able to go at a good clip. After Paradise and the rest of the ride home was nothing to write about (traffic and more traffic). I was surprised how packed Paradise was that early in the morning. The visitor center is still closed. The parking lot looked like a REI convention with literally hundreds of people in their REI outfits getting ready to tackle the mountain. I’m not sure how that many can be going up to hike as I know there is a quota system even for the short hikes around area. I couldn’t handle all the people, so I did my photos and headed down. I was shocked heading down the west side towards Tacoma at all the traffic going up. I saw tons of what looked like commercial vans pulling u-haul trailers going up also.

    Summary – Unlike in Washington state, in Oregon I can always find a campground with open slots. No Maps are 100% accurate. Always carry enough water as a lot of campgrounds are “dry”. It’s best have a loose itinerary and just go were you want without planning the day out. Always be prepared to hit gravel road even if the map says its paved.

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  11. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Washington State
    Some misc photos

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  12. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2017
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    Location:
    Washington State
    More

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  13. jaksavage

    jaksavage Smooth and a little sneaky

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2021
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    North of Mt Hood
    Nice write up, thanks.
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  14. lithodave

    lithodave brachy850 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2013
    Oddometer:
    205
    Nice one. I live in Oregon, and that weekend I wanted to get away from the heat, so I went to your state. Rode around Olympic peninsula. Nice and cool. But your trip sounds fantastic as there's not much traffic. I too am amazed when I'm in eastern Oregon and see hardly any other moto tourers. Even on holiday weekends.
    #14
  15. AHRMA17L

    AHRMA17L Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Corvallis and Dundee, OR
    That burger place at the south end of town is awesome!

    [​IMG]
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  16. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
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    That's the one! :)
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  17. AdvLTC

    AdvLTC Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Thanks
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