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The wild west is still alive and kicking in Pendleton, Oregon! It’s a city that prides itself on a rich heritage, colorful culture, and pioneer grit. Hang on to your hats – here are 6 must-dos in Pendleton, Oregon.
You can’t talk about Pendleton without mentioning the Pendleton Round-Up. The Pendleton Round-Up has been around since 1909, when both Natives and pioneers alike went head-to-head bronco busting, cowboy racing, rounding up greased pigs, and generally having a fantastic time. The tradition stuck and more than 110 years later, Pendleton is one of the most prestigious rodeos in North America.
Each September (after the crops are harvested), Pendleton welcomes tens of thousands of visitors for a weeklong celebration of Western heritage. Come for the fun, food, parades, concerts, pageants, and the best darn rodeo in the west!
In the 1980s, a strange phenomenon began in Pendleton’s streets. Gaping potholes began popping up where they shouldn’t be. A little digging revealed a massive underground tunnel system from the early 1900s!
These tunnels were used by the city’s Chinese population (who used them to avoid interacting with the locals) and those involved in more questionable activities like bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling.
Today you can take a guided tour of these secret passages while learning the history and context of their uses. You’ll hit all the subterranean hot spots, including the Shamrock Card Room, Hop Sing’s, and the “Cozy Rooms.”
It’s a truly unique look into Pendleton’s colorful past!
Pendleton was a major wool shipping center for the sheep growers in the Columbia Plateau region. The Pendleton Woolen Mill originally served as a scouring plant for the wool when it began in 1893.
Today the mill still stands on its 1909 foundation but has grown just a bit! It now includes an impressive retail operation selling its famously designed wool clothing and blankets.
Pendleton invites you in to see how six generations produce the intricate jacquard blankets and beautifully colored and patterned array of woolen fabrics for which Pendleton Mills is famous! Jump on the Pendleton Mill Tour and prepare to be amazed.
The Tamástslikt Cultural Institute is a fascinating study and celebration of the people who have lived in this region for more than 16,000 years. Explore the traditions of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes through interactive exhibits, artwork, and educational programs.
Tamástslikt is the only museum on the Oregon Trail to tell the story of western expansion from a native perspective. But history is not its only focus. It’s also dedicated to sharing the dreams and concerns of the tribal community moving forward.
Each spring, somewhere around the end of May, hundreds of kids take over Pendleton. They invade city-owned properties, hang out in the riverside area, and eat everything in sight!
No- I’m not referring to unruly teenagers but rather a group of nearly 1,000 greedy goats. The Pendleton goats return to the levee and river parkway each spring to munch their way through potentially flammable brush and unsightly overgrowth, clearing the way for stunning vistas and natural weed control.
You can be on “Goat Watch” for roughly 4-6 weeks as these grazers munch their way through the vegetation.
For those seeking the thrill of a winning hand, you no longer must hide in the tunnels below the city. The Wildhorse Resort and Casino is a world-class casino, resort, golf course, dining, and entertainment complex waiting for you to explore.
Wildhorse is also family-friendly, featuring an RV park, cineplex, bowling alley, food court, and arcade. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere in the northwest!
Join the gang at Destination Dispatch as they welcome Kristen Dollarhide from Travel Pendleton. Kristen shares even more amazing information about Pendleton’s colorful story and rich heritage, along with some terrific things to do while you’re there.
So….if you’re feeling just a little wild and ready for a frontier adventure (with 21st-century amenities!) mosey on over to Pendleton, Oregon.
It’s a rough and tumble town with a fascinating history and an incredibly ancient past. Can I get a “yeeee-haw?!?”
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