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The Dalles Murals

Finding Historical Treasure in The Dalles
by DenaRae C. of

So it's one of those days... You're house bound and you have no hopes of any plans coming together. However, you know if you don't come up with something quick you may all go stir crazy or worse yet, there will be a coup attempt. My suggestion? Grab a good pair of walking shoes and a good attitude and head to the Historic District of The Dalles. You can get there by taking exit 85 from I-84 and heading west into town.

I recently did this on a cold drizzly day with my two boys, ages ten and twelve. Spurred on after reading Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, I decided to take my boys to look at the murals we have driven past numerous times but have never really "seen". Moccasin Trail is a Newberry Honor Award book about a pioneer family who comes west via The Dalles on their way to the Willamette Valley. We had a great time and learned some things while we were at it.

There are twelve murals in all. According to the historical website the first mural was painted in 1992 and the final one was completed in 2003.

While all twelve murals are stunning, my favorite is Decision at The Dalles. Before reading Moccasin Trail I really didn't understand the life threatening decision the pioneers had to make at The Dalles to take the Barlow Road or try their luck at navigating the rapids of the Columbia River.

I cannot explain my sudden fascination with the murals. I have driven past them for the better part of two decades on my way to someplace else; their existence barely registering in my mind. Yet fascinated with them I am.

There are several fun ways to experience the murals. The day we went it was a spur of the moment decision and I didn't think to check the internet for a map of where the murals are located. Due to the cold, and because I only had a general idea of where the murals were located, we drove the mural loop. It was fun in a scavenger hunt sort of way.

Due to the weather we had a picnic in the car. We got a cheese pizza from Domino's and ate it while we drank our root beer and hunted for murals. We had a blast. The down side to this method is the need to watch for other rigs while changing lanes to get to the murals on the side roads. Luckily there were not a lot of cars when we went mid-day mid-week.

The way I would do it again and the way I would recommend doing it, especially if I had out of town visitors with me, I would print this map:

Map of Murals in The Dalles

Courtesy of

Only the first eight murals are on the map. You will need to mark the map yourself for murals nine through twelve. Their addresses can be found at To print the map image above, you will need to place your cursor in the middle of the map, right click your mouse and then click print picture.

The murals run on side streets between 2nd and 3rd from Taylor to Liberty St.. If I did my math right, it is less than two miles to walk this loop. I would park close to someplace yummy such as Petite Provence (yummy pastries and sandwiches) and depending upon who I was with, I'd either get a latte to sip as you peruse the outside-mural-art gallery or promise to get a treat on your return if everyone behaved. I would also grab a bottle of water and consider walking it on a sunny day while window shopping the downtown businesses.

The Umatilla House is depicted in a mural located on Liberty St. in between 2nd and 3rd streets on the Best Western hotel building. According to the mural narrative, before it burned down, the Umatilla House was located close to where mural number twelve "Sahaptin Medicine Man" is displayed now.

A final point of interest: according to the historical website (linked above) there is a key you can purchase at The Dalles Chamber of Commerce for a nominal fee. The key will activate 'the talking box' in several of the murals and narrate them for you.

No matter how you decide to view the murals treat it like a treasure hunt and have some fun. Who knows, you may just find that you learned something just like we did.

"For the Tourist"

Restaurants in The Dalles - We list all of the tasty places to eat in town as well as where you can find Wifi Hotspots! All offer e-coupons which you can redeemed by showing on your mobile device when it's time to pay the bill!

Lodging - Whether you're looking for a hotel, motel, campground, rv park, vacation rental or bed and breakfast, we've got you covered! We list pet friendly establishments as well!

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Camping - Detailed list of campgrounds where you can pitch a tent and enjoy the beautiful Columbia River Gorge!

Cycling - List of popular routes where you can get on your bike, start pedaling and nail down a good workout!

Hiking - List of all the cool hikes you can take including popular walking trails.

Fishing - Bait that hook, cast out and reel in a big one at one of the many fishing holes on our list! We also note establishments where you can obtain a daily or seasonal fishing license.

Hunting - Few realize that this city has some of the best hunting in the state. We reveal all the great places to lock and load including where you can pick up a license!

Lakes - Whether you're going for a swim or looking to catch tonight's dinner, The Dalles has you covered!

Rivers - The MIGHTY COLUMBIA dominates this town's list of rivers. List includes boat ramps!


Historic Sites