Visitor's Fun Guide
The Ontario area has an abundance of recreational
opportunities for the whole family. Listed below are some of the
recreational highlights. You will also find a list of links below that may
help plan your visit.
Four River Cultural Center and Museum
Four Rivers Cultural Center Museum gathers within
its walls, the wonders of more than a century of history. The
museum exhibits trace the settlement patterns of the Northern Paiutes,
Basque, Japanese/Americans, Hispanic and Euro American immigrants.
The visitor's exhibit tour begins with an educational film, designed to
provide a historical context to the exhibit gallery. From the
orientation theater, visitors enter a life scale diorama of Northern
Paiute camp along the river. The diorama leads to exhibits on the
reservation period and removal of the Paiute from the Malheur
Reservation as the cattlemen moved into the region. A history of
the valley's irrigation walks you through the early efforts to irrigate
by water through a giant siphon tube. Experience the evacuation
and the war effort of the Japanese Americans as the visitor walks
through a barrack in the internment camp. Encounter personal
recollections of individuals from the community to understand the period
of the World War II and the Japanese Americans loyalty and dedication to
this country. A second major exhibit gallery describes
contemporary Cultures and Communities. Five re-created building
facades serve as the backdrop for discussion of the issues faced by the
modern settlers in Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho.
Located at 676 SW 5th Ave., Ontario.
For more information, call 541-889-8191.
The Historic Union Pacific Train Depot
In the fall of 1882. four people filed claims
on four sections of land, four corners of which touched two blocks west
of the depot. The purpose of this action was to bargain with the
railroad for this location of the depot by offering up land.
Ontario was born with the arrival of the railroad in 1883. Prior
to that, Winnemucca Nevada, 150 miles away, was the closest railroad
available for coast-to-coast passenger, livestock and freight service.
In the fall of 1883, the first depot was constructed. It was a
small rectangular building that provided passenger and small living
quarters. On January 1, 1884, Ontario had its fist railroad
service. In 1907 the present sandstone and brick building was
erected. However, some minor interior remodeling has been
completed over the years. The exterior of the building has
remained exactly the same and is in sound condition. Since 1907,
thousands of people have passed through the depot, especially during
World War I and World War II. The well-developed agricultural base
of the local economy can be directly attributed to the railroad and the
passenger and freight depot service. Of historical significance is
the fact that during the time the First World War, this depot was the
largest shipper of wool in the United States. The depot is the
only and oldest building that has played a role in the early development
of every aspect of our economy in Western Treasure Valley. The
depot laid the foundation that is being built upon today.
Located at 300 Depot Lane, Ontario.
The most distinctive natural landmark in the Ontario-Vale area is the
Malheur Butte. The Butte, once known as the Kennedy Butte after a
pioneer who homesteaded at its base, is a weathered volcanic plug that
rises abruptly above the lush farmlands along the banks of the Malheur
River. Malheur Butte was used by the Indians as a vantage point to
observe approaching wagon trains on the Oregon Trail on the 1840s.
Although Malheur Butte has been inactive for millions of years, Malheur
County is still alive with geothermal activity in the form of hot
springs. Today, facilities in the area use the geothermal energy and efforts are being made to further
utilize this unique energy source through out the county.
Located off of Hwy 20 between Ontario &
Owyhee Reservoir & Dam
Owyhee Reservoir is a long narrow reservoir with about 150 miles of
shoreline that is located in a canyon of rugged and spectacular beauty.
In 1939, Owyhee Reservoir, the first of five manmade reservoirs in the
area, was completed, providing water to the sagebrush-covered land of
the Snake River Valley. The key feature is the Owyhee Dam, on the
Owyhee River. This 52 mile-long, 1,120,000-acre reservoir is
located approximately 11 miles southwest of Adrian. The dam rises
417 feet above the river and, at the time of its construction
(1928-1939) was the world's highest dam. Owyhee Dam became a
proving ground for theories being developed to assist the design and
construction of Hoover Dam, whose unprecedented size, 300 feet higher
than Owyhee, required totally new construction methods. The most
visually spectacular site is the "Glory Hole" spillway with its ring
gate control mechanism. The 60 ft. diameter crest of the spillway
is located on a promontory in the east side of the reservoir, about 300
feet upstream of the dam. The ring gate consists of a concrete
base and an operable, floating, donut-shaped gate. A control
gallery and a float well are located in an adjoining concrete pier.
The steel ring gate is hollow, and therefore buoyant, so it can float
when the chamber fills with water from the reservoir. the Owyhee
River below the Dam is very popular with fly fishers. The lake also provides excellent
waterfowl hunting, and the surrounding hills and canyons offer many
opportunities for the pursuit of upland game birds. A variety of
wildlife may be observed in the reservoir area, including wild horses,
bighorn sheep, golden eagles, pelican and cormorants. Owyhee
Irrigation District operates a visitor information center and a museum
located in the historic construction office below the dam.
Directions: South from Ontario on State Highway 201, follow the
signs. For more information call 541-372-3540.
Bully Creek Dam & Reservoir
Forested areas at the reservoir provide opportunities for
viewing migrating birds. In the spring, fall and winter you may
see loons, grebes, ducks and hawks. A nearby red rock formation
sometimes harbors Rock Wrens and Golden Eagles. The reservoir is
985 surface acres with 7 miles of shoreline with paved access to the
dam. There are many recreational opportunities that include
fishing, boating, hiking and other water sports. Available fish
species include smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rainbow and black
crappie. The reservoir is used as a resting by migratory waterfowl
with so ducks remaining to next. Sparse vegetative cover of sagebrush and grass
provides habitat for small mammals and birds.
Bully Creek Reservoir is located 10 miles west
For more information contact 541-473-2969.
Brownlee & Oxbow Dam
Brownlee Dam is 395 feet high and is ranked among the world's highest
rock-filled dams. Brownlee Reservoir is 58 miles long, the longest
on the Snake River and stores 1,500,000 acre feet of water of which
1,000,000 acre-feet are available for power generation. Brownlee
Reservoir is an excellent fishery with black crappie, white crappie,
channel cat fish and smallmouth bass.
Oxbow Reservoir extends 13 miles upstream to the Brownlee Dam. On
these lakes, Idaho Power has developed extensive parks complete with
picnic facilities, overnight camping areas, electricity for cooking,
drinking water and restrooms. Recreational opportunities include
boating, fishing, hiking and other water sports in truly picturesque
setting. Trout, bass and crappie can be found in these reservoirs.
The spectacular gorge known as Hells Canyon is deeper than the Grand
Canyon and is a sportsman's paradise. Idaho Power has developed
and maintains four parks in the Hells Canyon area-Woodhead Park, along
the Idaho side of the Brownlee Reservoir; McCormick Park, on the Idaho
shore of the Oxbow Reservoir; Copperfield Park, just below the Oxbow
Canyon Reservoir. These parks are the gateway to recreation in
Hells Canyon. Hunters and anglers seldom go unrewarded here.
The canyon is one of the Northwest's finest bass and crappie fishing
areas. Dedicated anglers won't want to pass up on the chance at
steelhead below Hells Canyon Dam. Upland game birds are abundant.
Mountains wall the canyon on both sides providing habitat for big game
animals, including bighorn sheep, which feed at the water's edge during
Recreation opportunities abound in the Western Treasure Valley.
The area boasts a community aquatic center, an 18-hole municipal golf
course, Move Theater, with 8 screens, a 24 lane-bowling center, tennis
courts, fitness centers, the Four Rivers Cultural Center Museum, and
over 61 acres of parks, including five municipal parks and one state
park and a skate park. Other area recreation includes backpacking,
kayaking, rock climbing, cycling, swimming, water skiing, rafting,
boating, rock hounding, hunting, hiking and fishing. Snow sports
can also be found on nearby mountain slopes. Two semi-pro baseball
teams and school athletic teams provide children and young adults
competitive entertainment. The city recreation department
administers several children and adult competitive sports leagues and
offers other recreational activities.
Hunting & Fishing
Many people travel to our area to enjoy some of the best hunting and
fishing in the Northwest. A bounty of wild game that includes,
chukar, Chinese ring-neck pheasant, quail, grouse, ducks, geese, mule
deer, American pronghorn antelope, Rocky Mountain elk and big horn sheep
are available to hunters. Our area is also abundant with many
types of fishing. From a leisurely afternoon of catching bluegills
at our local ponds to trying your fly fishing skills for the german
brown on the Owyhee River. Several species of fish populate area
rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs. They include rainbow trout,
catfish, small mouth bass and crappie. Many people enjoy fishing
the Snake River for the giant catfish.
Across the state bicycling has become more
and more popular. Here in Malheur County bicycling has starting to
become a up and coming activity. If you are just staring out or
have years of experience, you will enjoy the High Desert scenery of
Malheur County. Bike routes can be obtained through Travel Oregon.
Local events also showcase local bike routes and rides.
The Oregon trail Agricultural Museum was formerly a farmer's feed, seed
and mill business built in the late 1930's. The business was known
as Thompson Feed and Seed and later the Tobler Feed and Seed. In
1959, it was sold to the Stringer Family, who renamed the business
Farmer's Feed and Seed and then donated it to the community.
Highlighted in the museum are displays of early farm and ranch equipment
depicting the rich agricultural heritage of the Nyssa area.
Restored sheep wagons, circa 1900, antique agricultural equipment used
in the Treasure Valley, vintage photographs of the cities of Nyssa and
Adrian and surrounding area farms and Oregon Trail history are featured.
Also located in Nyssa are the Hotel Western, Blacksmith Shop and Green
Lantern Saloon, which are all on the National Register of Historic
For more information call 541-372-3574 or
Vale Murals & Stone House
The first town in Oregon on the Oregon Trail. Vale is rich in the
pioneering spirit and lakes pride in its history and heritage. The
city's past comes to life in a series of 30 murals depicting aspects of
the great westward migration of the Oregon Trail. Professional
Artists painted the scenes on building walls throughout the town.
Early 1900s architecture predominates in the downtown area and attests
to the historical contribution made by Vale in the settling of Oregon.
Rinehart's Stone House. The Rinehart's opened the Stone House on
New Year's Day in 1873 with a Grand Ball. The upstairs ballroom
soon became the desired location for weddings and various social functions. Outside of Vale on
the National Historic Oregon Trail is the site of Keeney Pass.
This interpretive site tells of the trail and hardships encountered by the
early pioneers. Several miles of wagon ruts are visible as you
look up and down the draw. Emigrants bid farewell to the Malheur
River at this point.
For more information, call the Vale Chamber of Commerce at 541-473-3800.
You may also visit additional websites for recreational opportunities such
City of Ontario
Four Rivers Cultural
» EOVA (Eastern Oregon
» Vale Bureau of Land Management
OSU Malheur Experiment
» Oregon Fish &
Wildlife Department (Hunting/Fishing
» Travel Oregon
Restaurant & Lodging Association
Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce/Visitor & Convention Bureau
876 S. W. 4th Ave. Ontario, Oregon 97914
(541) 889-8012/Toll Free 1-866-989-8012