The West


One of my favorite little-known units administered by our National Park Service is the extraordinary John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (JDFB), created in north-central Oregon by Act of Congress in 1975. This facility deserves to be upgraded to full “National Park” status, but regardless, it makes an ideal addition to a tour itinerary visiting…



Having spent the entire summer volunteering for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Visitor Center at Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River, just east of its confluence with the mighty Columbia, I took the opportunity during my free time to go exploring throughout the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest. I kept my…


Bob Hoelscher

The Pendleton Woolen Mills

Posted by Bob Hoelscher in The West on October 14, 2014


The historic town of Pendleton, Oregon, lies just east of the Blue Mountains in the northeastern part of the state. A community of some 17,000 residents, Pendleton is probably best known as the namesake for the renowned Pendleton Woolen Mills. In operation since 1909, the company’s original plant here still makes the near-legendary woolen blankets…


Bob Hoelscher

The Pendleton Round-Up

Posted by Bob Hoelscher in The West on October 14, 2014


Pendleton is home to one of the best-known rodeos in the American West, which has been held since 1910. Scheduled annually for the second week in September, the Pendleton Round-Up features dozens of events during its eight-day run, including parades, concerts, cowboy shows, children’s events, beer garden and the Happy Canyon Outdoor Indian Pageant &…


Bob Hoelscher

Pendleton Underground Tours

Posted by Bob Hoelscher in The West on October 14, 2014


A guided 90-minute walk exploring Pendleton’s colorful role in the “Old West,” mostly beneath the downtown area, is offered by Pendleton Underground Tours. Here, you’ll follow historic tunnels connecting speakeasies, opium dens, the living quarters of Chinese workers, the town’s jail and even a meat market, where keeping the meat fresh was aided by underground…



Operated by the Umatilla County Historical Society, the Heritage Station Museum showcases the region’s history through numerous exhibits on the grounds of Pendleton’s original passenger rail station, located on the south end of the downtown area. Among points of particular interest are a historic Union Pacific caboose, a one-room schoolhouse, a video presentation and displays…



Recently, I had the opportunity to explore the historic and charming town of Pendleton, Oregon. The town embraces its Wild West past through numerous historic and cultural attractions, such as its newest addition, the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute. Operated by the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla Tribes, this must-see attraction is the only Native American-owned interpretive…


Bob Hoelscher

Arriving in Central Oregon

Posted by Bob Hoelscher in The West on September 23, 2014


Oregon offers the traveler such a wealth of exceptional vacation destinations that the central part of the state is sometimes overlooked, which is definitely a big mistake! But if your group has made plans to tour the Central Oregon area, you’ll surely want to make an en route sightseeing stop at the Peter Skene Ogden…


Bob Hoelscher

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Posted by Bob Hoelscher in The West on September 23, 2014


Established by Presidential Proclamation in 1990, the numerous points of interest in Newberry National Volcanic Monument are administered by the U.S. Forest Service rather than the National Park Service. Newberry Crater itself is just part of a massive volcano that covers some 600 square miles and has erupted sporadically for many thousands of years. I…


Bob Hoelscher

The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Posted by Bob Hoelscher in The West on September 23, 2014


Depending on exactly which routes one follows from Bend, the splendid Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway takes the traveler through a wonderland of about a dozen sparkling lakes, surrounded by snowcapped peaks, dense forests and geological formations. Although a minimum driving time of three to five hours is suggested, I spent another full day here, allowing…