Originally named Brownsville after its first settler Benjamin Brown, La Grande is a charming town in northeast Oregon in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. The name was changed when it was discovered that there was already a town named Brownsville in Oregon at that time. According to popular belief, the name La Grande was chosen in honor of French settler Charles Dause, who frequently used the expression “la grande” to adequately describe the natural beauty surrounding the newly founded settlement.
La Grande was known for being one of the first stops along the Oregon Trail in the Oregon Territory, and it was incorporated in 1865, much earlier than most towns in the region. Due to its potential for agriculture, an abundance of gold mines, and early railway access, La Grande continued to grow at a rapid rate, becoming the seat for Union County along the way. Furthermore, Eastern Oregon University chose the burgeoning town as its home, adding to its appeal for people of all ages.
When you book an RV in La Grande, you can easily get in and out of the city using Interstate 84, the primary driving route in eastern Oregon. La Grande is approximately halfway between Boise in Idaho, and Portland in Oregon, making it a popular stopping point for travelers to add a dose of excitement to their trip. Historical buildings, stunning landscapes, and a lovely local culture are all part of what makes La Grande an excellent vacation destination and a wonderful place to rent an RV.
The Great Outdoors
When you rent an RV in La Grande, you’ll immediately fall in love with the rolling emerald hills of eastern Oregon and the nearby Blue Mountains that provide a gorgeous backdrop. The closest state park to the town can be found on the scenic Columbia River. Hat Rock State Park is a fantastic place to go for a swim or try your hand at catching fish in the river. The park is named for Hat Rock, an odd basalt rock formation that geologists believe to be over twelve million years old. Guests may hike throughout the park on its many trails or camp along the river in a La Grande campervan rental. Sand Station Recreation Area and Warehouse Beach Recreation Area are also located on the river just a few miles from Hat Rock, giving you more options to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge.
Umatilla National Forest plays a large role in attracting tourists to the region, home to incredible wildlife like bears, coyotes, wolves, moose, elk, badgers, and bighorn sheep. Even the forest’s lakes hold a diverse smattering of fish, from steelhead and rainbow trout to coho and chinook salmon which you can catch provided you have the right gear. There are three wilderness areas in this massive forest, ideal for those who like backcountry trekking. Additionally, you can go camping, hunting, biking, off-roading, or even skiing on the two major ski and snowboard mountains located within the forest.
Crater Lake National Park is perhaps the obvious choice to visit in Oregon, but Mount Hood National Forest is much closer and just as divine. The park takes its name from Mount Hood, the towering stratovolcano that dominates the skyline, visible from as far away as Portland. The mountain is one of the most prominent peaks in all of the Pacific Northwest and a treacherous but rewarding one to climb. You don’t need to conquer this giant, however, to enjoy your trip; you can opt instead to stroll through subalpine meadows teeming with wildflowers or camp out in the heart of the woods using your La Grande motorhome rental.
RV parks and campgrounds are a dime a dozen in this particular part of Oregon, so you’ll have your pick of the litter when you rent an RV in La Grande. Hu-Na-Ha RV Park is one of the options in the area, with basic necessities and a simple setup. This creekside campground has tent camping and RV camping sites, with secluded fishing and swimming spots.
Grande Hot Springs RV Resort is close to Hot Lake Springs, known for its medicinal hot springs. This resort also has tent, yurt, and RV camping, along with a swimming pond, a recreation hall, croquet courts, a spa, a heated pool, and a stage for music and events.
There are quite a few public campgrounds in the vicinity too, like Spring Creek Campground and Mudlake Campground, part of the nearby Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. While they may not feature the same amenities that private resorts and parks do, they more than make up for it with incredible views and hiking trails.
Known for its outstanding natural beauty, La Grande’s city life is often overlooked. There isn’t an overwhelming number of things to do in town, but there are a few attractions to see when you rent an RV here. The La Grande Historic District has a wealth of old buildings invoking the spirit of the Wild West and the Oregon Trail. You can feel how old this pleasant town is when you walk through the downtown area, observing the city hall, post office, and other historic buildings.
Hot Lake Springs is situated on the edge of town, another fabulous historic landmark built over a hundred years ago. After being partially destroyed in a fire in 1934, the hotel has just recently been rebuilt, restoring it to its former excellence. The hotel was founded in the midst of therapeutic, thermal hot springs known for their healing properties. You can bathe in these soothing waters when you visit the refurbished hotel or have dinner beside the lake.
The Union County Fairgrounds are also found in La Grande, so depending on what time of year it is, you can find yourself dining on delicious carnival food. The Union County Fair is a large event, celebrating the agricultural origins of the area, with farmer’s contests, thrilling rides, great food, parades, concerts, competitions, and lots of vendors selling their wares.