Folks were always looking for ways to make easier traveling to the rich Willamette valley in Oregon country, as well as to California. So the trail changed considerably over the years, and more and more variants became options. Here's a link to a great article:
At the end of this post you'll find The End of The Oregon Trail.
On my way home from Biggs Junction OR one time (on I-84), on a whim I made my own "Decision at The Dalles" to try to drive the Barlow Road. There's a sign to get you started up the hill from The Dalles for traveling the Barlow: take Hwy 197 south towards Dufur. Up above the gorge of the Columbia River are beautiful orchards and rolling grain fields.
About 15 mi south of Dufur turn right onto Tygh Valley Rd (opposite Hwy 216), unless you want to take a little detour to White River Falls State Park not far east on Hwy 216. I missed my turn, and turned around at a wide spot off the road where stood a stack of hay, interrupting a deer making the most of it. Thus, the photo above right is coming back up from south of the right turn.
The little community of Tygh Valley is at the base of the hill that takes in a splendiferous view of the Valley as you drive up Wamic Market Rd. Bend with Wamic Market Rd though town (Wamic) until it straightens itself out to become White River Rd (aka Rock Creek Dam Rd?) to continue traveling the modern equivalent of the Barlow Road. But there are events, places to go/things to do about these tiny towns as well.
White River Falls State Park—about 15 mi south of Dufur turn onto Hwy 216, it’s not too far
Historical Smock Prairie School, now a museum
I had more than one adventure on this trip into the dark! My tank had plenty of gas, but eventually I was down to 19% phone battery. I had an annotated map, but still came to an unexpected fork in the road and fortunately chose the right one, which was left. I made it to Rock Creek Reservoir.
It was wonderful country for a drive, but then winding up into the mountains, I began wondering how far my destination lay ahead, and when it would be too far to turn back. Some rather rugged roads, with signs warning "Not maintained for winter driving", seemed apparently not maintained for spring/nearly summer, either. Beside being rough riders, shrubs were invading the edges. There was no stopping for pictures.
Then suddenly I faced a detour. With no familiarity with the roads or terrain, hardly knowing where I was, I was relieved to find reassurance from another traveler (few and fairly far between). Next, a warning, "Single lane ahead". Since I was driving solo, I took photos with my cellphone and sent them home in case I had to be rescued (as it turned out, they didn't get them until I was already home). As I drove I felt some small notion of what it might have been like traveling through the tall trees up the thickly forested mountain in a covered wagon for days and days in the cold and probable snow.
Snow still lay along Rd 48 near the intersection (at last!) with Hwy 35. My original intent was to travel south from Hood River to meet Hwy 26 and the Barlow Route. Yet when I reached Hwy 35, I didn’t know which way to turn, so took a guess and watched for mile markers. Once again, I was fortunate to have made a choice choice.
South of the intersection of Rd 48 with Hwy 35, turning off to see the Pioneer Woman’s Grave (also near the intersection of 35 and 26), did not turn out to be a good choice—the road much less taken at that time of year was paved, but narrow and shady, the snow wet & slippery. My vehicle (with me in it) nearly got stuck trying to turn around, and it was getting dark. My thoughts were chilled at the possibility/prospect of having to spend the night alone on a cold snowy mountain road off the main highway. I had emergency supplies, but it would mean climbing clear to the back of the car, as I daren’t get out into the snow. I could only hope I had enough battery and coverage to call for help if needed (now I have a car with cellphone charging). Thankfully I did finally get some traction, got turned around, and headed home along Hwy 26.
Government Camp OR--50 mi east of the End of the Oregon Trail in Oregon City
The map app says that it takes an hour and 20 min to travel those 50 miles: mind-blowing for a pioneer on the Oregon Trail, despite road improvements since then, or should I say beside road improvements! This little jewel community near historic Timberline Lodge features skiing and other tourist activities one would find on a mountain, including a Chalet theme. The small museum at Government Camp has a bit about the Oregon Trail.
Government Camp OR
Laurel Hill--only accessible eastbound, and not that accessible at that
To find the little monument for the Oregon Trail, watch for the sign for E. Little Brook Lane, and the Barlow Road marker, west end of town. The little monument is right there off Hwy 26. It’s historic in its own right, erected 1916.
Wildwood Recreation Site—39 mi east of Portland OR, near Welches
Right at the entrance, behind a fish art gate is where we saw an inconspicuous marker for the Barlow Road.
For more photos and info, scroll down to the bottom of the first link below, and check out the others as well.
Sandy OR--27 mi east of downtown Portland OR, but it takes about an hour's drive due to traffic (at best)
I was attempting to check out places to go up on Mt Hood too early in the year, and ended up with some time to explore Sandy, to my delight. Only the gift shop of the museum was open, due to COVID restrictions, but they had beautiful displays for the Barlow Road of the Oregon Trail, and I got vital info about other places: Jonsrud in particular was an excellent sight site. Second site below shows and tells more.
Phillip Foster Farm--22725 SE Eagle Creek Road, Eagle Creek OR 97022
What a wonderful place to go! They have annual and special events like apple cider pressing and various camps, tours, living history . . .
Baker Cabin--corner of South Hattan & South Gronlund Roads, Carve OR (18005 S Gronlund Rd, Oregon City)
We went for an event day, and how glad we did! The pioneer, Horace Baker, was a stone mason, and I got a chance to give it a little try 😊! The place is not super accessible for a wheelchair, but we managed most of it. The people/volunteers are very friendly and helpful.
Barton Mercantile (Store) with Oregon Trail mural--19009 SE Barton Park Rd, Boring, OR 97009
aka Clackamas Hwy 224
The Applegate Trail
The Applegate Trail cuts off The California Trail and heads northwest from what is now Nevada. I became aware of it while traveling I-5 in southern Oregon, and was intrigued. The furthest south I got was the Valley of the Rogue State Park east of Grant's Pass OR, so that's where I'll start.
Valley of the Rogue State Park—13 mi east of Grant’s Pass OR on I-5
I stopped here on my way back from Mt Shasta on a rainy day. The park just happened to be hosting a chainsaw carving event in conjunction with Oregon State Parks centennial--all the more delightful for me! Not many had come on such a day, but I was glad I did. Apparently it is a very popular park in the summer. I thought it would make a good place for a reunion gathering, and of several yurts, one is accessible. For more about this park, see links below.
Manzanita rest area, just up the hill north of Grant’s Pass on I-5
This is such a pleasant place to stop, rest, picnic, potty, run off some energy . . . for more about this place:
Applegate Trail Interpretive Center—Sunny Valley OR, 14 mi north of Grants Pass
Such an intriguing place, but still closed since COVID, “until further notice.”
Wolf Creek OR—20 mi north of Grants Pass, off I-5
I finally got to see the Oregon Trail part of this place, on an “island” in front of the Inn. I didn't see a ramp for the curb, or it was blocked, but by parking my vehicle next to the curb where the gravel path was, I could deploy my ramp onto the path. The gravel was angular, so though not easy, I was able to traverse it around the loop of interpretive signs & exhibits in my electric chair it wasn't the death of me.
Canyonville OR--42 mi north of Grants Pass, 203 mi south of Portland
"As I drove south on I-5, on a sudden I saw a sign about Applegate info, and took the exit to Canyonville. A Google search and a call to the local Pioneer & Indian Museum furnished me with directions to Pioneer Park (E 5th St & Canyon Ave), where the highway department has built an attractive open structure to house excellent information about the Applegate arm of the Oregon Trail." I wrote in my post, which see for more pics and info about the park, the museum, and the community (will be updating with more about Stanton Park):
Roseburg OR—26 mi north of Canyonville, 178 mi south of Portland on I-5
I loved the Douglas County Museum of History and Natural History! Only a part of it is dedicated to the Oregon Trail--it has lots of other great exhibits--but here I'll just focus on the Oregon Trail. For more about Roseburg:
Cottage Grove OR—51 mi north of Roseburg OR, 128 mi south of Portland on I-5
"Several times I’ve seen a sign about Applegate (one branch of the Oregon Trail) information at a Cottage Grove exit. I had a chance to take that exit on my trip to visit the Redwoods and Crescent City. Unfortunately, it was the back way in, and 6 miles from the city itself. I suggest taking exit 174 straight on to Gateway Blvd and follow it until it meets Main St, then turn right onto Main Street. The Veterans Park has the interpretive signs about the Applegate (Oregon) Trail. It’s on W Main St and River Road." I wrote in my post. More about Cottage Grove at the links below.
End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Oregon City OR (metro Portland)
For years I have wanted to get to this place, and at last I made it!
More and More about the Oregon Trail!
Videos of traveling the Oregon Trail--a 15-day trip traveling along the Oregon Trail from it's beginning. More about that (eastern) end than the Oregon end, but that's the part I could not travel myself. He does a good job of showing where he's going on the map and tells/shows some interesting details. Might want to pause or watch again to take it all in.
“In Search of the Oregon Trail” aired PBS Apr 29, 1996 (imperfect copy)
Landmarks or Stops on the Oregon Trail (and related articles) by USA Today
National Historic Trails Interpretive Center—Capser WY
Oregon Trail sites in Wyoming
National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker City OR
Grant’s Getaways: The Oregon Trail (Hell’s Canyon & the Baker City OR area)
Dam Awesome Sites
Bonneville Lock and Dam
As with every river, there are 2 sides, and Bonneville Dam has a visitor center on both the Oregon side and the Washington side. Both sides have recreational opportunities and historical displays (more extensive on the Oregon side). I think both are worth visiting.
Recreation on Robins Island and Bradford Island--on a wet day
Bradford Island Visitor Center, Bonneville Lock & Dam OR
Bonneville Dam Bookstore/Gift Shop and Info
Bonneville Fish Hatchery on an overcast, sometime rainy day
My own little Sturgeon Fest, Bonneville Dam & Beyond
2.5 min video of 100 year old sturgeon caught in the Pacific Northwest
Bonneville Dam--WA Hwy 14
The Dalles Dam--built 1952-1957
We take for granted the reasons the dams were built on the Columbia River, one of which was flood control.
John Day Dam--east of Biggs Junction & Hwy 97 on I-84 in OR, and Maryhill on Hwy 14 in WA
McNary Dam--off Hwy 730, east of Umatilla OR
The visitor facilities was closed for so long for COVID, but at last I was able to visit, and I made it with only an hour to take in the Visitor Center. Sorry that I have a fear of heights which curbed my chance to take photos from the walkway at the top of the Visitor Center. So desperate for a restroom, I was extremely grateful for the accessible facilities.
McNary Dam fishing videos included walleye, shad, steelhead, salmon, sturgeon.
McNary Beach Recreation Area--above McNary Dam, 3 mi east of Umatilla OR, off Hwy 730
Swiss-Bavarian Alpenfest, Joseph OR
OR Route 82 is a 70 mi state highway from La Grande to Joseph. Also called the Wallowa Lake Hwy, a part of the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, it appears to have an identity crisis as it takes its turns through the towns along the way. Thus, some of the street addresses of places on this highway might disguise their location on the road.
My best laid plans for this trip went a bit awry, but things worked out alright in the end. I made it to the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce in Enterprise OR before it closed at 5pm, en route to Joseph. That was a very good chance to gather info on places I wanted to go (or at least to reference), and to ask questions.
Coming into Joseph OR from the North on Hwy 82, which becomes Main St in Joseph
Dinner at La Laguna Mexican Restaurant
After unloading at my lodgings, I went searching for a place to eat north of the Lodge. The Blythe Cricket was already closed for the day. The sunset reminded me of a previous trip when I had taken too long to decide where to eat so that the place I wanted to go was closed. I chose to eat at La Laguna Mexican Restaurant, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. It was a great choice. I noted quite a number of tables on the outside, and the employee said they had about 10 others beside, indicating just how popular the place is in summer.
Mt Joseph Lodge, Joseph OR
Mt Joseph Lodge has a rustic charm that draws you in, and I would have enjoyed it greatly but for a few drawbacks for a person in a wheelchair. Although there's a handy handicapped parking space right in front on Main St, the wheelchair entrance is on Alder St around the corner. I was glad the parking spot there was paved with enough room for my ramp to deploy, and the gravel on the other side of the pavement had enough vegetation so that I could manage not to get stuck or spin out. The room with the roll-in shower is nearly clear around the pleasant veranda (except for what I assume were temporarily stored appliances). It was a beautiful room with many nice features. But, the roll-in shower didn't have a bench, and the shelf was much too high for me to reach. I found a stool at Joseph Hardware that was perfect for my need. The space between the bed and the wall was hardly wide enough for my 24" wheelchair, and the bed was very high, without a helpful bedside table to assist my ascent. No staff on site, and I could not get a response from a phone call.
Oregon's Alpenfest, Joseph OR
Sometime the Alpenfest is held at the rodeo grounds, but in 2022 that was needed as a base to fight fires in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. I was thankful the air was not full of smoke! The festival was moved to the Community Center. I went there for breakfast and to check out the craft booths before lots of people came, then went to explore the town of Joseph. It's only about 14 blocks from end to end, easily traversed by walking or wheeling--that is, when they are finished with the sidewalk renovations in progress when I was there. Still, I could roll most of the way up and down Main. I returned to the festival for the afternoon program and lunch. I was there before the crowds, which suited me.
For more about Swiss & Swiss-American culture, yodeling, the accordion, and such, scroll to the end of this post.
Exploring Joseph OR
The town of Joseph started out with names memorializing the lake, but in 1880 changed its name to memorialize Chief Joseph of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce tribe, the original inhabitants of the area. Each summer the rodeo and related events held there is called Chief Joseph Days. The town doesn't have any historic Swiss or Bavarian ties, but the area is known as Little Switzerland because of the Wallowa (quite spectacular) mountains.
Joseph OR, north to south--highlights, mainly traveling down Main Street, cross streets noted below
Iwetemlaykin, Old Chief Joseph Gravesite, and Wallowa Lake
Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site--south edge of Joseph, Hwy 351
From the brochure, it looks like maybe the best way for persons in wheelchairs might be to access from the south end of Main St (don't turn when the main road becomes 8th).
Old Chief Joseph Gravesite & Cemetery, Nez Perce National Historical Park--Hwy 351 just south of Joseph OR
This was the father of the famous Chief Joseph.
Wallowa County Park--north end of Wallowa Lake, about a mile or so south of Joseph OR, Hwy 351
This is an exceptional view of both the lake and the Wallowa Mountains.
Wallowa Lake along Hwy 351 south of Joseph OR
Wallowa Lake State Park--6 mi south of Joseph OR, 77 mi (over an hour and a half) from La Grande
Wallowa Lake Community--right next to Wallowa Lake State Park, 6 mi south of Joseph OR
Tourist activities to keep family, friends, and/or sweethearts engaged for days in this little community, such as mini golf, go-karts, tram up the mountain, hiking, picnic places, camping, cabins, resorts, hotels, restaurants, gift shops . . . Little Alps State Park, a day-use area is at the end of the road (not far).
Eagle’s View Inn & Suites--1200 Highland Avenue, Enterprise, OR 97828
What exceptional views of the Wallowa mountains from this hotel! How appropriately named, for both the bird's soaring perspective, and the Eagle Cap Wilderness in prospect. What great prospects of having a relaxed and easy stay with such easy access to my bed. I called it an early night to rest my weary self.
Directions: At the top of the hill west of town, turn north off Hwy 82 on Highland Ave. It's west of the Baptist Church and the Enterprise welcome sign. Make a right where you see the stop sign; the FS ranger station is further north up the Highland Ave hill. The exterior of the hotel itself is sort of non-descript and I didn't see a sign reassuring me I was in the right place, but it's the only hotel-looking building there.
Around town, Enterprise OR
Hwy 82 literally turns into River St as it enters Enterprise from the southeast. The skate/basketball/baseball park is before that curve comes, Moonshine Glass Art is just at the curve, but it doesn't look that easy to get to. When I was there it looked the best way for a handicapped person would be to pull into the Dollar Stretcher Groceries (where you can get parking lot where you can access a ramped sidewalk. From the map it looks like you can get to the Glass Art place from S River St, to the left coming 'round that bend, before you actually see the Moonshine Glass Art.
More around Enterprise OR, and vicinity
I had read that one could fish in Marr Pond, but I had a difficult time trying to find public access to it. My best advice is to continue south on SW Depot or SW 2nd St to SW Thorpes Lane. Go west on SW Thorpes past Montclair St. You'll get glimpses of the pond, and at the west end of the pond around an old industrial building you might be able to get to the pond.
SW Depot makes a T with Fish Hatchery Lane, and the fish hatchery (dating back to 1939) is not far to the west and well-worth visiting. It has more than one entrance, and each has its own interest. A deer crossed the road as I drove out that way, but I couldn't get my camera out in time to get a good photo.
Not much further west, where Fish Hatchery Lane meets Powers Rd, take a short left, then right again onto Homan Lane, if you want to go out to see Sunrise Iron, on Sunrise Rd off Homan Lane. It's a little bit of a drive on gravel road, but so interesting. Call ahead about touring. Beautiful views of field & farm & mountains.
Back in town, Enterprise OR
Traveling west on North St, which becomes part of Hwy 82, is El Bajio Mexican Restaurant, Ace Hardware, Chevron, the Post Office, Elks Lodge, Wilderness Inn Motel (which has handicapped accommodations if you get there before they are gone), La Laguna Mexican Restaurant, Heavenlys burger place, a car wash, etc. North St makes a bend by Safeway before heading uphill out of town. Across from Safeway are a Chinese restaurant, TW Bronze (on Golf Course Rd), and about a block further on Golf Course Rd is Parks Bronze. Naturally, there's a golf course not too far up Golf Course Rd.
Towns 'Tween Enterprise & La Grande OR--along Hwy 82
Lostine OR--10 mi northwest of Enterprise on Hwy 82; about 60 mi from La Grande
Hwy 82 becomes State St in Lostine, a village with a few interesting landmarks, and south on Lostine River Road (dirt/gravel) are fairly minimalist campgrounds and trailheads. Names I saw on the map: Lostine Reservoir (Mountain View Rd off Lostine River Rd), Canyon Forest Camp, Lostine River Interpretive Trailhead and Williamson Campground (11 mi south of town), Walla Walla Forest Camp, Irondyke Forest Camp, Bowman-Francis Lake Trailhead, Turkey Flat Forest Camp and not far Arrow Forest Camp & nearby picnic area, Shady Campground & nearby Maxwell Lake Trailhead, and at last Two Pan Campground & Trailhead--for which you can search on the internet.
Wallowa OR--18 mi (about 20 min) northwest of Enterprise OR, on Hwy 82
Hwy 82 becomes 1st Street in Wallowa. Much construction caused some difficulty getting around Wallowa when I was there early Oct 2022, which will bring welcome improvements when they are finished. I was anxious to tour the Nez Perce Visitor Center, but it was "temporarily" closed even during posted hours--I suppose still relating to COVID cautions. Right where Hwy 82 becomes 1st St on the east end of town (at Ellen St), 1st St goes further east separate from the highway, and then as it crosses the Wallowa River it changes to Whiskey Creek Rd. At the west end of town Hwy 82 separates from 1st St at Douglas. Otherwise, the captioned photos below I think are self-explanatory.
The Canyon between Wallowa & Elgin, including Minam
Wallowa to Minam is 13 mi through the canyon. Minam to Elgin is another 13 miles. The Minam River joins Wallowa River at Minam OR. Minam Store, which offers various recreational supplies and services, is closed on Mondays. See their website below. Just across the river is the Minam State Recreation Area, with its boat launch just off Hwy 82, and its campground 2 mi up the Wallowa River on a not-so-wide gravel canyon road.
Elgin OR--20 mi northeast of La Grande OR, on Hwy 82
When Hwy 82 comes into Elgin from the east it converts to Albany St, then turns south, becoming S 8th Ave. Because I was just driving through, I didn't see Tom McDowel/Elgin Community Park (on both sides of Elgin Community Center & Pool, 260 N 10th St, Elgin, OR 97827).
Imbler OR--13 mi northeast of La Grande OR, on Hwy 82
Hwy 82 turns south into Ruckman Ave in Imbler OR. It's a tiny community with the Grande Ronde River winding slowly nearby in largely farming Union County.
La Grande Exxon, exit 261 off I-84--about 260 mi, 4 hours from Portland OR
This is the exit for Hwy 82, so it was very convenient to get gas both going and coming home. The staff member who kindly pumped my gas was so friendly and thoughtful he washed my windshield without being asked. He even fetched a Subway sandwich made to order for me (I keep a note about which sandwich/ingredients I like). There's a Best Western, a Super 8, and a Sandman Inn nearby, beside McDonald's & Wendy's, and Local Harvest Eatery & Pub (pizza). Shopping is also close, at La Grande Town Center, 2212 Island Ave #3949, La Grande, OR 97850 .
For more about La Grande OR, see
Swiss Culture in the US and Switzerland
Music at Alpenfest included yodeling and accordions, which reminded me of clips from "The Sound of Music" and Disney's "Snow White". Cowboys used to yodel, too. Ironically, the overture to Rossini's opera "William Tell" is the familiar "Lone Ranger" theme, so much a part of American culture.
For a brief intro to the dancing, scroll down to Tirolean Dancers at:
Books & Movies with Swiss subjects & authors
Famous Swiss writers: philosopher Rousseau, Nobel prize poet Spitteler . . .
Swiss stories: William Tell, Swiss Family Robinson, Heidi, Moni the Goat Boy . . .
Some Swiss colonies in the US, and Swiss Americans
About Switzerland & Germany
Cantons of Switzerland
Mt Angel Oktoberfest
Getting to Mt Angel Oktoberfest
If you don't have a disability permit, parking is at a premium. Friday it was bad enough, but on Sat every street was lined with cars. Ordinarily it's a town of less than 5000. Some places offer $7 parking, official parking areas are $10. There are shuttles to and from the official parking lots (which fill fast, of course), as well as the shuttle to the Abbey, but they did not appear wheelchair accessible to me.
St Mary Catholic Church, 575 E College St, Mt Angel, OR 97362
Kindergarten, across the street from St Mary Catholic Church
Bouncy house, carnival rides, pony rides, etc.--all for free.
Military Vehicle Display, Sat 9am-3pm at the Legion Hall, 740 E College St, Mt. Angel, OR 97362
I saw some of these vehicles down the hill in the main festival area on Fri, but didn't have a chance to get any photos. On Sat I was anxious to get up to the Abbey before the museum closed, so had to pass (opportunity cost), and by the time I returned, they were done.
Rollin' down College & Church St, Mt Angel Oktoberfest 2022
One might speculate whether whoever laid out the town had indulged a bit much in the spirited festivities . . . St Mary Catholic Church is on College St. But as you head downhill toward the center of town, College St leaps north a block at Oak St, and continuing west on what was College St you are suddenly on Church St.
The Center of Mt Angel Oktoberfest was at Garfield & Charles streets. From College St I turned on Garfield and worked my way north a block, past the City Hall and the Souvenir booth. At Garfield & Charles was the information booth, and a shelf of free, informative booklets with a map, schedule of events each day, info about the events and venues (like what spirits are served at each, with prices), free family fun, etc. I recommend planning to spend 2 days at least, and if you haven't been before, you can peruse the booklet even further before the 2nd day. If you plan to imbibe, I suggest making a reservation to stay over well in advance.
*Note: although most places accept credit cards, there a some that only take cash. ATMs are sprinkled around in cute little "houses", but it costed me $4.50 to use one, and I had to ask a kind person to help me because it was too high for me to reach some of the buttons. People were very nice to me at the festival.
Dancers, Performers at the Bandstand, Charles St & Cleveland
I took SO many photos, because obvioiusly it's difficult to get a good shot while people are in motion--especially at night. I liked some of the shots, even though there were not crisp. Organizing, labeling, and choosing the best out of over 500 shots takes a lot of time and stamina itself! I so enjoyed the beauty of the colorful costumes and complexions--it's so great when we can celebrate each others' cultural heritage. Spectators were so kind to let me up front so I could see, as they stood because the seating was packed.
Hoop Dance--Webertanz, Mt Angel Dance Troupe
Moms & Daughters Dance--Webertanz, Mt Angel Dance Troupe
Dads & Daughters dance--Webertanz, Mt Angel Dance Troupe
Boys' Dance--Webertanz, Mt Angel Dance Troupe