Eastern Oregon: Grande Tour Route
Length: 80 miles / 128.0 km
Time to Allow: 4 to 5 hours
Fees: Some fees may be charged at some attractions.
Start at the visitors center in downtown La Grande. From here, follow the signs to Birnie Park. The tour leaves the park and proceeds south the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Refuge overlook. After passing Hot Lake Resort, hook onto route 203 to Union. From Union, the tour goes south on 237, then east on for 15 miles. It then loops back to Union via route 203.
Route 203 climbs to the Catherine Creek Summit and Sno-Park, then follows the creek down to Union. Take route 237 north to Cove. From Cove, the Grande Ronde River escorts you along the Wallowa mountains for a while. After crossing route 82, it's a straight shot south back to La Grande
'Grande' is French for 'big'; this term elucidates the mountains, farms, and history that compose this byway's valley. The route sits between the Hells Canyon and Elkhorn byways and is an easy swing-by from these byways.
Grande Tour tracks through pine and fir forests to beautiful Birnie Park, where Oregon Trail travelers camped before climbing over the Blue Mountains. A viewpoint from these same mountains overlooks the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Refuge and the snow-capped Wallowa Mountains on the opposite side of the valley.
It runs through cherry orchards and mint fields at the base of the Wallowa Mountains and also through the ruins of Hot Lake Resort, a spa/hospital that was thought of as the Mayo Clinic of the west in the early 1900s.