Things to Do in Pendleton, Oregon

Pendleton, Oregon,  is one of the Northwest's premier cowboy towns, home of the famous Pendleton Round-Up, a huge and long-running rodeo. Pendleton is located along Interstate 84 and is near the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The Umatilla River runs through town. Visitors to Pendleton will enjoy a taste of the American West, its mythology and its reality, both past, and present. You'll see that cattle, sheep ranching, and agriculture are region's heart, both economically and culturally. A historic downtown is a great place for Western shops and galleries.​

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    Pendleton Woolen Mills
    Getty Images/John Elk

    The colorful blankets and woolen fabrics produced at the Pendleton Woolen Mills are an icon of the American West and prized heirlooms in many families. Sheep and wool production ​has thrived in Eastern Oregon for well over a century, so it's no surprise that Pendleton became the base for the creation of these All-American textiles. Weekday visitors to Pendleton's retail store can enjoy a free tour of the attached mill, where you'll see wool transformed into thread and then woven into blankets and fabrics. While weekend visitors will miss out on the mill tour, the Pendleton retail store is open seven days a week, providing the opportunity to view some historic exhibits and browse the abundance of colorful clothing and blankets.

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    Photo of Tamastslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton, OR
    Angela M Brown

    A visit to the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions of the region's Native people, who include the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla Tribes. The museum's permanent exhibits are organized to look not only at the Tribes past but the present and the future. The exhibit structure tells a compelling story. In addition to these permanent exhibits, the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute hosts changing exhibits and events. During your visit, be sure to check out the well-stocked gift shop or take a lunch break at the Kinship Cafe.

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    The Pendleton Round-Up and its companion events take place every September, but you can experience the grand rodeo all year round at this museum. The Pendleton Round-Up & Happy Canyon Hall of Fame, located next to the rodeo grounds, is packed with historic artifacts and photographs that bring the Round-Up's long history to life. During your visit, you'll learn about the men, women, and livestock that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Items on display include saddles, firearms, clothing, vehicles, wagons, beadwork, and trophies.

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    Encompassing the McKay Reservoir just south of Pendleton, this national wildlife refuge provides land and water habitat for creatures large and small. Osprey, pheasant, quail, and deer are among the wildlife you might view at different times of the year. Fishing, boating, and bicycling are popular recreation opportunities within the refuge.

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    With ever-changing exhibits, this museum of the Umatilla County Historical Society illuminates local history. Located in the 1909 Pendleton railroad depot - an important piece of history itself - the Heritage Station Museum is packed with interesting artifacts that combine to tell the story of a time or a culture. Be sure to visit the interesting artifacts around the museum grounds, which include an old one-room schoolhouse, a caboose, and an old fire engine.

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    The Wildhorse resort complex, centered around a rather cramped and smoky casino, includes a hotel, RV park, fine and casual dining, a 5-screen movie theater, and a golf course.

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    Annual Events & Festivals in Pendleton

    Photo of Bareback Bronc Riding at the Pendleton Round Up
    Bob Pool/Getty Images

    Popular Pendleton events and festivals include the BMCC Arts & Culture Festival (April), Old Iron Show (June), Pendleton Round-Up (September) and Oktoberfest Pendleton (October).​