There's nothing quite so moving as the look of wonder in a child's eyes. Well, that's not exactly true. How about the look of wonder in the eyes of, say, 100 children? That's what you're likely to find at Children's Museum of Eastern Oregon, which offers endless possibilities for young ones to learn and explore.
The imagination is free to roam and set up shop in any of the museum's many exhibits, which include an interactive "market" and a tree-filled reading jungle. After your visit, head to the toy store to pick up an educational game, a science project, or a TV set plastered over with fun math equations.
Locati Cellars' 2009 sangiovese red infuses Rosebud Vineyard’s sangiovese—from Wahluke Slope—with fruit from Walla Walla’s Mission Hills Vineyards. The hybrid result earned silver medals in the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition and the 2012 Seattle Wine Awards, with its pomegranate and cranberry scents that complement blueberry, black tea, and chocolate flavors.
The sangiovese is just one of the vintages sommeliers pour for tasting at the Locati Cellars, helmed by the Locati family for the past century. The winery rounds out its selection with the bone-dry Estate rosé and whites, such as the 2012 pinot grigio, rather than the original white wine—fermented grapes mixed with paper. The winemaking team strives to blend Italian winemaking traditions with grapes from the winery’s vineyards, which occupy Walla Walla’s rolling, fertile hills. Locati Cellars has won a number of accolades for their wine, such as gold for their 2009 Locati Innovation from Seattle Wine Awards, and gold for their 2009 Estate Sangiovese from the Great Northwest Wine Competition.
Beamers Hells Canyon Tours ferries passengers through the vacillating rapids of one of the deepest river gorges in North America. Along nearly 200 miles of majestic landscapes and American history, certified tour captains delve into detailed narratives on geological landmarks, Native American history, and how U.S. mail delivery developed from horseback to the modern-day jetpack. Wine-tasting and brunch cruises complement degustation with stunning scenes of mountain ranges, rivers, and rare glimpses of local wildlife foraging for food or preparing their tax-return forms, and fishing charters let anglers test their mettles against the river’s crafty steelhead, sturgeon, and bass.
In 1805, Lewis and Clark ventured down the Salmon River in dugout canoes carved from hollowed-out trees. They were enormous crafts— up to 40 feet in length and 3 feet and diameter—but they could barely navigate even calmer stretches of this river, not to mention the rapids. That's a testament to the power of the Salmon River, which regularly has Class III rapids, as well as a testament to how much boating technology has improved. Today, thankfully, it's easier and much more fun to attack this wild whitewater in a smaller craft. Yellow Jacket River Guides has an experienced team that directs rafting tours and camping trips on and around the mighty Salmon.The company has three types of watercraft: large oar boats, paddleboats, and inflatable kayaks. “If you’re not comfortable in the water, you can ride in the oar boat where the guide steers," says owner Alison Steen. "If you’re ready to try something more intense, the inflatable kayaks are a lot of fun.” Both trips begin with a chartered jet-boat ride upriver; the three-day Treasure Valley Weekend Getaway will go about 25 miles up, and the four-day Whitewater Escape ventures by jet boat about 80 miles from the launch point in Vinegar Creek. The four-day Whitewater Escape also concludes with a 25-mile jet boat ride through a final stretch of un-floatable water. The two excursions are virtually identical, with the exception of their lengths and a few different stopping points. Both trips will start downriver, and groups will break camp each night on white sand beaches along the waterway. Typically 10–12 people make up each group, but groups can be as large as 24. Everyone can enjoy a late start to the day to let the morning chill pass over and to catch the season finale of a hilarious dream sequence. Soon after, you can spend a few hours paddling with plenty of downtime for swimming, hiking, and fishing."It’s not a cookie-cutter trip where everyone has to do the same thing," says Steen. "Only half the day is spent on the river, so there’s a lot of free time. Some people want to go on a strenuous hike, others want to sit and read, and some just want to take a nap. It’s very customizable.” The area is prime for bird watching; also keep an eye out for moose, big-horned sheep, and deer.In addition to their mastery of Idaho’s first-aid and rescue training requirements, Yellow Jacket’s guides are well-versed in interesting facts about the land. Along the way, they’ll point out where to spot Sheepeater Indian pictographs and historical pioneer homesteads. They’ll also point the way to the all-natural hot spring. At each day’s end, as campers finish up a hike or take a nap, guides will preside over the campfire to craft a gourmet meal made from savory meats and locally grown vegetables. The meal changes each night, but a highlight of the trip is Saturday’s luau on the beach, where groups will dig into a feast of polynesian pork tenderloin with a tropical salsa, stir-fried veggies over island rice, watermelon, and a dessert of pineapple upside-down cake.
Trophy bass are nothing unusual to the licensed fishing guides at Mountain River Outfitters. Armed with more than 15 years of experience, they lead trips through local waters—including the Salmon and Snake Rivers—in search of prize catches such as bass, salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon. Mountain River Outfitters also has expert guides that lead whitewater-rafting trips, horseback rides, and camping and hiking trips in local canyons and mountains.
Sky explorers sail into the ether over Lewis-Clark Valley, buoyed by one of AirQuest Adventures' multicolored hot air balloons. Upon arrival, air-bound pairs nosh on complimentary breakfast pastries as the flight crew prepares their high-flying chariot, then attend a preflight briefing before taking off at sunrise or sunset—the times when air conditions are least likely to interrupt in-flight naps. Soaring over the valley provides an eagle's-eye view of the area's whitewater rivers, gaping canyons, lush forests, and vast fields that reveal the occasional crop circle caused by genetically modified seeds. After the trip, customers celebrate solid ground with a champagne toast before reboarding the shuttle.