These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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“Grande” is French for “big,” which describes the mountains, the farms and the history that make the Grande Ronde Valley what it is today. It’s a landscape that has the power to make you feel small.

Launch from La Grande

From the Visitors Center in downtown La Grande, follow the Tour Route signs to Birnie Park, where Oregon Trail travelers camped before climbing over the Blue Mountains. The Route heads south along the base of the Blues to a viewpoint overlooking the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Refuge with the snow-capped Wallowa Mountains in the background.

A More Perfect Union

After passing Hot Lake Springs Resort, a spa/hospital that was the Mayo Clinic of the West in the early 1900s and is now being restored by a well-known artist, a short gravel road connects with Oregon Route 203 to Union. Visit the Union County Museum on Main Street, where you will learn all about cowboys and local history. From Union, the Route heads south on Oregon Route 237, then east on Thief Valley Road for 15 miles of gravel road through rugged, wide open range before looping back to Union via Oregon Route 203.

Catherine Creek and Cove

Oregon Route 203 climbs through pine and fir forests to the Catherine Creek Summit and Sno-Park, then follows the tumbling creek past the popular state park and down to Union. Take Oregon Route 237 north from Union to the little town of Cove nestled at the base of Mount Fanny. Cove is noted for its Ascension Chapel, an Episcopal church built in 1869 that has been visited by the likes of Desmond Tutu. There is also a warm springs swimming pool with picnic grounds in town—a refreshing break for summer travelers. From Cove, the twisty Grande Ronde River escorts you along paved and gravel back roads through cherry orchards and mint fields at the eastern base of the Wallowa Mountains. After crossing the lush Grande Ronde Valley and Oregon Route 82, it’s a straight shot south back to La Grande. For more information, call Union County Tourism at 800-848-9969, or go to www.visitlagrande.com.

On the Grande Ronde

From Cove, the twisty Grande Ronde River escorts you along back roads past cherry orchards and mint fields at the base of the Wallowa Mountains. Cross the lush Grand Ronde Valley and Oregon Route 82, then turn left for a straight shot south on Mt. Glen Road back to La Grande.

Nearby Scenic Byways

Looking for more Scenic Byways nearby? Here are some suggestions…

  1. McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway

    • Distance: 82 M / 132 Km
    • Minimum Driving Time: 3-5 Hours
    • Best Time to Drive: July-October

    Look both ways while crossing! These two connecting Cascade passes travel among 10,000-foot peaks, over jagged lava flows, along playful rivers, and through old-growth stands in two national forests.

  2. Diamond Loop Tour Route

    • Distance: 69 M / 111 Km
    • Minimum Driving Time: 3-5 Hours
    • Best Time to Drive: Spring Through Fall

    Winding through a variety of high desert habits, the Diamond Loop Tour Route offers wildlife watching, the historic Round Barn and the fascinating geologic formations of the Diamond Craters.33

  3. Oregon Outback Scenic Byway

    • Distance: 171 M / 275 Km
    • Minimum Driving Time: 4-6 Hours
    • Best Time to Drive: Spring And Fall

    Solitude awaits you on this adventure through Oregon’s high desert. Enjoy the play of light on the rocks, the smell of sagebrush and the sounds of silence.

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Drive safely.

Keep in mind many of the routes listed here travel through remote areas where gas stations are few and far between. And since road and weather conditions can be hazardous, even into summer, we urge you to call 800-977-6368 or check Trip Check before starting out.

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