Motorcycle Tours & Events
It’s said that four wheels move the body, but two wheels move the soul. Whether Standard, Cruiser, Touring, Sport, or Dirt, motorcycles elicit a sense of adventure and even a little (or a lot) of rebellion from road warriors. The bond between machine and rider and the landscapes they cross is an experience unmatched; each journey is a visceral juxtaposition of fear and freedom with serenity and inner peace. From the Twisted Sisters in Texas to the Beartooth Highway in Montana, motorcyclists across the country seek adrenaline-filled adventure, and Eastern Oregon’s open roads provide no shortage of thrill. Here’s an overview of five of our favorite two-wheeled rides throughout Eastern Oregon’s picturesque regions.
Dooley Mountain Highway
Region: Northeast Oregon
This remote route in Northeast Oregon provides space, solitude, and technical twists to the heart’s content. The route’s nickname is “Oregon’s Little Dragon” for the short 14-mile climb that stacks 188 corners, rated 10-25 mph, and varies from open range to farmland to deep valleys. The route is quiet, practically devoid of tourists, making way for ample enjoyment on its tranquil twisties. At the northern end of the route, riders will find options for food, drink, and a good night’s rest in Baker City. First opened in 1889, the Geiser Grand Hotel is a historical gem that offers a warm and inviting stay complete with cigars and whiskey for tired riders.
Oregon State Route 204 “Weston-Elgin Highway”
Region: Northeast Oregon
Events: Chief Joseph Rally
This 42-mile stretch of Oregon State Route 204 is best-ridden in the summer months when the temperatures in the lowlands of the surrounding counties provide respite from the heat, not to mention its snow-covered roads in winter months are less than ideal for two-wheeled machines. The route beckons, providing plenty of sweepers beginning in Elgin and ending west in Weston. An overnight stay at Tamarack Three Bears Inn provides log cabin-style lodging with various culinary delights made from scratch by the neighboring Alpine Restaurant.
Journey Through Time Tour
Region: John Day River Territory
Miles: Two-Day Itinerary
Events: Blessing of the Bikes, A.B.A.T.E of Oregon Fossil Campout
The John Day River Territory boasts canyons, landscapes, and abandoned ghost towns that make for an interactive road adventure, not just for cowboys and cattle ranchers. Gillam County’s Journey Through Time Tour provides a detailed two-day itinerary to take the guesswork out of planning, complete with state parks, national monuments, museums, and a place to hit the hay. Curves, turns, and twists engage the eye as the majestic Painted Hills roll by, and the scenic roadways lead to neighborly communities and awe-inducing adventure.
East Steens Tour Route
Region: Southeast Oregon
Events: Giant Loop Ride
Complete with abrupt ravines and sun-soaked deserts, the East Steens Tour Route in Southeast Oregon is a geological wonder with over 143 miles of paved and gravel roads that mirror the extreme dichotomies of The Steens basins and ranges. Riders who seek the solitude of remote roads will find it here. The tour route runs north-south from the town of Burns south toward Fields. In Fields, riders can gas up, grab some grub, and stock up on provisions for the route through the Alvord Desert and Steens Mountain territory. Headed north, the road showcases the steep slopes of the Steens Mountains, which top out at just under 10,000’ and create a rainshadow responsible for the Alvord Desert, an expansive desert that takes you back in time. Riders can soak weary legs in one of the many natural hot springs including the Alvord Hot Springs. Riders need to beware of the native pronghorn, whose speeds match that of bikes, close to 60 miles per hour, as the route continues north. Travelers will find a series of lakes great for wildlife watching and fishing. OR-78 takes riders toward Crane and Burns. The tour route ends back in Burns, where riders meet modern-day conveniences and can enjoy an overnight stay at the Historic Central Hotel’s Swanky Digs.
Blue Mountain Scenic Byway:
Region: Oregon’s Rugged Country
Events: Pendleton Bike Week, Hodaka Days
This 183-mile route winds through national forests, ranching communities, and the wilderness land of the Blue Mountains. Named for their blue hues, the Blue Mountains are a range of mountains that climb upward of 9,000’ and run east-west along the Columbia, toward the Snake River. The Blue mountains wind past rolling ranchlands, rocky peaks, and wild rivers to provide scenic respite for riders. The west end of the byway starts along the mighty Columbia River and then heads south through ranch lands toward Heppner Junction, following a section of the historic Oregon Trail toward the town of Cecil. Next, the route winds along Willow Creek, surrounded by rolling wheat fields, where the communities of Ione and Lexington showcase historic frontier architecture. After passing the town of Heppner, known as the “Gateway to the Blues,” the road narrows and twists as it wanders away from the highway, winding through hills and canyons to the Umatilla National Forest. Eventually, the thick forest of fir and pine dissipates as the byway descends into a permanently dry lake basin. Continuing on for nine miles to the North Fork John Day Wilderness, riders can end the day with an overnight at North Fork John Day Campground or continue riding on the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway. A motorcycle journey is not complete in Oregon’s Rugged Country without a pit stop and overnight stay at BackFire Station in Pendleton where the unique bikers paradise is home to a moto lounge, lodging, adventure bike rentals, and service in the remodeled old Pendleton Fire Station.
There is no shortage of paved, gravel, and dirt roads to explore; these are just a few of the rides available in Eastern Oregon. Awareness is crucial when exploring Eastern Oregon’s roads. Safety rests in the hands of the rider; take time to understand the area’s traffic laws and hazards before heading out. The remoteness of Eastern Oregon is what makes riding its expansive roads extra special; plan for several days to explore and make a point to map out service stations and accommodations beforehand. Motorcyclists also need to be alert to the open range, abundant wildlife, and changing weather. In the meantime, take these suggestions and start to research, because from two-track trails to some of the country’s curviest (and most scenic) roads, lovers of adventure are guaranteed an epic time when exploring the little-known motorcycle mecca of Eastern Oregon.