The Ontario area has an abundance of recreational opportunities for the whole family. Listed below are some of the recreational highlights.
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, OR 97914
For more information, please call (541) 889-8191 or visit www.4rcc.com.
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, OR 97914
Please note that the Malheur Butte is private property. We ask that you respect the owner’s land. Do not trespass or loiter. You are welcome to drive by and take pictures.
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 in the 1840s. Though 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 & Vale
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 man-made 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
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.
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.
Available fish species include smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rainbow and black crappie. Sparse vegetative cover of sagebrush and grass provides habitat for many small mammals and birds.
Bully Creek Reservoir is located 10 miles west of Vale.
For more information, please 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, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon, 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; and 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 steel head 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 winter.
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 near The Catfish Junction & RV Park along the Snake River for giant catfish.
Across the state bicycling has become more and more popular. Here in Malheur County, bicycling has emerged and is becoming an 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; all of these locations are on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information call (541) 372-3574 or (541) 372-3712.
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, please call the Vale Chamber of Commerce at (541) 473-3800.