Of the 2,170 miles of the Oregon Trail, approximately 300 miles of ruts remain. Swales created by thousands of wagon wheels and the trampling of draft animals are deep in some areas, shallow in other places. Much of the trail has disappeared due to natural erosion, and development of farms, highways, cities and towns. In some places, the Oregon Trail, or Emigrant Road as it was generally called in the 19th century, was later used by automobiles.
The Oregon Trail route followed the easiest grades wherever possible. In any place where level open ground permitted, wagons spread out rather than follow single file.
Places to easily see Oregon Trail rut segments on public land in Eastern Oregon:
For more information on exploring locations along the Oregon Trail, including Auto Route Maps, please visit the National Park Service website for the Oregon National Historic Trail.
It is permissible to walk in the trail ruts on public land, but please help preserve the trail for others to see by avoiding any activity that might erode or damage the ruts. If following rut traces, please get permission before crossing from public to private land. Close any gates you open, and pack out litter.
Six miles southeast of Vale on Lytle Boulevard, there is a BLM interpretive site with paved trail and parking area. Deep double swales mark where wagons climbed the summit. Four and five sets of ruts gradually merge into one.
Blue Mountain Crossing
From I-84, take exit 248, about 16 miles northwest of La Grande. Open only during the summer season. Managed by the USDA Forest Service, this park has some of the best preserved ruts in Oregon. Paved trails provide easy access to deep ruts in the forest floor.
Five and a half miles west of Echo on Highway 321, then half mile north on a gravel road. A BLM interpretive site provides parking, informational panels, and a paved trail to the deep, clear ruts. Surrounded by developed farmland, this small section preserves the look and sounds of a meadow as experienced by the pioneers.