Rolling hills near Pendleton / Photo by photos.jhayes/Flickr

(Rolling hills near Pendleton / Photo by photos.jhayes/Flickr)

You can’t really visit the Pacific Northwest without enjoying some of its natural splendor, and Pendleton is no exception.

Our fair city sits at the foot of the Blue Mountains, rolling hills unfurl in every direction, and the Umatilla River runs through the heart of Pendleton. With all that natural beauty at our doorstep, you could plan an entire weekend around exploring the outdoors.

So we’ve drawn up an itinerary for doing just that. Whether you hit the links first thing in the morning, hike to the nearest viewpoint, or spend hours cycling the nearest backroads, here’s how to get started with the many outdoor recreation opportunities in (and around) Pendleton.

Friday Night: Hop in the Saddle

When we talk about “getting in the saddle” in Pendleton, it usually involves four-legged animals. But Pendleton and Umatilla County offer no shortage of cycling destinations.

Get a feel for Pendleton by taking the various bike lanes through town, riding along the bucolic Umatilla River, and getting lost (figuratively, of course) in the nearby wheat fields that stretch for miles in any direction.

Up for a thigh-burning workout? Make the 150-foot climb to the top of North Hill (naturally, at the northern edge of town) for an expansive view of the city and surrounding farmland. The imposing Cabbage Hill dominates the scene to the east, while the home of the Pendleton Round-up and Happy Canyon Arena sit straight ahead. And if you time it right, there may be no better place in town to watch a late-summer sunset.

Saturday Morning: Choose Your Own Adventure

Hat Rock State Park - Photo by eddiecoyote/Flickr

(Hat Rock State Park / Photo by eddiecoyote/Flickr)

The hardest choice you’ll make all weekend just might be, “What do I do on Saturday morning?”

Golfers get an early start on the day at nearby Wildhorse Golf Course, which hosts 18 holes, picturesque lakes, long fairways, and deep bunkers just a few minutes outside Pendleton.

Hikers, meanwhile, love the surreal setting at Hat Rock State Park. The park’s centerpiece is a 70-foot monolith that bears more than a striking resemblance to a cowboy hat. A trail ascends to the base of the rock, and a short spur trail leads to a Lake Wallula overlook and the 10-mile Umatilla County Lewis and Clark Commemorative Trail.

Anglers also enjoy Hat Rock, though for a different reason: Hat Rock Pond is stocked with trout each spring. Other nearby fishing holes include Cold Springs Reservoir, McKay Reservoir, and (naturally) the Columbia River. Wherever you go, you might catch largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, walleye, and more.

Saturday Afternoon: Take It Easy

You’ve gotten your workout in for the day, so why not while away the afternoon in the pool or on the lake?

The Pendleton Family Aquatic Center opens every summer and runs through Labor Day, offering more than 200 feet of open and closed tubes, three pools, children’s water features, and more near downtown Pendleton.

And if you’re looking to beat the heat, head into the heart of the nearby Blue Mountains, where Jubilee Lake hosts prime opportunities for swimming, camping, paddling, picnicking, and more.

Sunday Morning: Stretch Your Legs

Heron on Umatilla River at Pendleton photo credit Nancy Clark

You’ve packed a lot into the previous 36 hours; why not relax with an easy stroll along the Pendleton River Parkway? Enjoy three miles of flat, paved trails hugging the banks of the Umatilla River; along the way, you’ll pass the Pendleton Round-up Arena, the city’s historic downtown core, and other classic Pendleton landmarks.

After a long day on the river or in the mountains, you’ll want a comfortable place to you’re your head at night. Check out our Pendleton accommodations for historic hotels, classic B&Bs, resorts, lodges, and more.