The sight of the Grande Ronde valley brought delight to early travelers after their long journey across the dry plains. This great green bowl, encircled by mountainous walls, was more like the "Oregon" they expected to find.
Captain Benjamin Bonneville:
"Its sheltered situation, embosomed in mountains, renders it good pasturing ground in the winter time; when the elk come down to it in great numbers, driven out of the mountains by the snow. The Indians then resort to it to hunt. They likewise come to it in the summer to dig the camash root, of which it produces immense quantities. When this plant is in blossom, the whole valley is tinted by its blue flowers, and looks like the ocean when overcast by a cloud."
Despite it's lushness, the none of the pioneers settled here until many years later. While the valley could support farming, it was an unknown and unprotected place in the 1840s