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Nestled by the banks of the Grande Ronde River, Hilgard Junction State Park is just outside Baker City, OR. The park is also less than an hour away from Pendleton. This state park features breathtaking landscapes, untouched nature, and very rich wildlife. Anglers are a frequent sight on the banks of the river, as they try to catch bull trout, spring chinook salmon, and many other species.
This 23-acre park is not large but offers plenty of outdoor opportunities for visitors who love to spend their time in the wilderness. Dense woods are a perfect location for wildlife watching as the area has a healthy population of deer, beavers, and minks. Birds can be spotted in the trees near the water. Are you interested in spending a couple of days at Hilgard Junction State Park? Then book an RV in Union County and embark on an adventure with family and friends.
Hilgard Junction State Park features a short hiking trail along the Grande Ronde River. Cottonwood and pine trees line the landscape, so make sure you have a camera with you to capture the gorgeous nature of this part of Oregon. The trail is 1.6 miles long and mostly flat, meaning that it is suitable for hikers of all levels. The famous Oregon Trail once passed through this state park, and hikers may still see the traces of the ruts during their walk. This place is even more beautiful in fall when the leaves turn brown, and the first signs of frost show up in the morning.
Grande Ronde River is the central feature of this state park. It attracts anglers, rafters, and boaters during summer. Weeping willows grow on the banks of the river, creating a spectacular atmosphere for adventurous campers who go boating here. Several boat ramps are located at different points within the state park, making it easy to launch a vessel into the water. Picnickers who are RV camping at Hilgard Junction State Park may spend their time near the river as well since there is a large picnic area close by.
Hilgard Junction State Park has a small campground, with only 18 sites available for long vehicles. Located next to the water, the campground offers panoramic views of the area. The sites are spacious and paved. Even though it doesn’t have any hookups available, the campground is equipped with basic amenities. These include restrooms, fire pits, and picnic tables.
Before you go RV camping at Hilgard Junction State Park, make sure you have all the supplies with you because the campground doesn’t have a store. Additionally, rafters prefer this place because it provides easy access to the river. Potential campers cannot make a reservation in advance since the campsites are first-come, first-served. This campground is open from April to October. The state park welcomes visitors during winter, but camping here is not possible when the temperatures are low.
Eastern Oregon might not be as attractive to tourists as the coast or Portland, but there are still many small communities here that are worth a visit. One of them is Pendleton, a charming place that looks like a movie set for a western. Almost everything here is old West-themed, making Pendleton one of the most interesting destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Hilgard Junction State Park campers could take a drive up here and spend an afternoon exploring this unique city. One of the most visited places in Pendleton is the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute. The institute is focused on preserving the culture of three Native American tribes that lived in Eastern Oregon – the Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Cayuse tribes. The permanent exhibits showcase the fascinating culture and traditions of these tribes through various artifacts and texts.
Pendleton Round-Up is the biggest event in this city, and it takes place annually in September. It is essentially a large rodeo that draws in visitors from all parts of the United States. Rodeo competitions, concerts, and dances are held downtown. The event-goers who wish to learn more about the Pendleton Round-Up could drop by the Happy Canyon Hall of Fame. This place has a whole section dedicated to the rodeo filled with artifacts, photos, and news clippings. Also, don’t miss a chance to try out cowboy-themed meals if you happen to be in the city during the Pendleton Round-Up.
The downtown area is very pedestrian-friendly, with lots of places of interest here, such as the Pioneer Park and Heritage Station Museum. Some of the best restaurants are located here too. They mostly serve international food, such as Thai and Italian. There are around a dozen gas stations in and around Pendleton.
Should you plan on continuing your trip through Oregon, make sure you refill the tank of your RV rental before you get back on the road. Your next stop might be Bend, a high desert city with many outdoor recreation opportunities around it.