Portland to Pendleton
Around 75KM east of Portland, and the northern Willamette River valley, we entered Mt. Hood National Forest. Mt Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon and dominates the landscape of this National Forest. The western slopes are thick with coniferous trees and lush undergrowth. Driving up towards the Timberline ski resort we passed many campgrounds. Timberline is the only ski area in the USA open 10 months of the year. The resort is located at the foot of the volcano Mt Hood (3407 meters) the highest mountain in Oregon.
I am told there are 60 commercial campsites on the mountain and 5 ski resorts and there are also less-developed areas for cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling. The ranger advised us that glaciers cover more than 8 square kilometres near the top of the mountain and hold more than 300 million cubic meters of snow and ice. But he also advised us of the rapid loss of the glaciers in the last century, based on pictures. From here we circled Mt Hood on our way to Colombia Gorge National Park and coming down the mountain at the eastern side we noticed this area is much drier than the western side.
Colombia Gorge National Park was designated a National Scenic Area. The landscape seems to grow bigger, grander, and brighter as it rolls east. We stayed overnight at Rowena Crest lookout which has an amazing view. The spectacular river canyon, 80 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep, meanders past cliffs, spires, and ridges set against nearby peaks of the PNW’s Cascade Mountain Range.
On our way to Pendleton, we made 2 more overnight stops along this amazing river.
Pendleton is a small town of around 1700 people and has a rich history.
There are a few places still left in Oregon that bring that history to life and one of them is the Pendleton Underground City tour. Hiding beneath the streets of downtown Pendleton is a secret district that has been around for more than 100 years. Beneath the city of Pendleton, the Pendleton Underground is a network of tunnels that once was home to many secret businesses, both legal and illegal.
The tunnels were built by Chinese workers who had been harshly discriminated against by the town’s white population, it was unsafe for Chinese people to be out after sunset. During our tour with a great tour guide we were shown underground saloons, a chemist and brothels. While the rest of reserved Pendleton slept above, a wild time, and perhaps some light grocery shopping, was happening underneath the streets. A great tour and a must do when in Pendleton. Interesting fact was that the tunnels were only discovered in the 1980s when potholes started to appear in the roads.
We arrived right on time in Pendleton for the 27th annual Wildhorse Pow Pow. Dancers, traditional songs, and drummers showing off the power, strength, and native culture at the Pow Pow.
All this and traditional songs. This event attracts native Americans, Canadians and Mexicans from all around USA-Canada and Mexico. The ceremony honoring the traditions of their ancestors was very moving and special. IT WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE TO BE PART OF THIS.
The Umatilla Indian Reservation is managed by the three confederated tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation The reservation was established for three native American tribes, the Umatilla, Walla Walla and for the Cayuse. All the tribes historically lived in the Colombia Plateau area. The reservation has a land area of 702.01 km2 and a tribal population of 2,927. In addition, some 300 Native Americans from other regional tribes and 1,500 non-natives live on the reservation. The tribes developed the Wildhorse Casino Resort on their reservation to generate revenues for their people.We spend 3 nights in their carpark while visiting the Pow Pow.
Till Next time when we drive via the Painted hills to the PNW Redmond Overlander 4×4 show
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