This week, we travel to northeast Oregon’s “Swiss Alps” and Wallowa Lake State Park.

Wallowa Lake State Park is at the southern edge of Wallowa Lake near Joseph, Oregon. State Park Manager, Todd Honeywell, said that visitors will find plenty of recreation in a year round campground that offers more than 200 sites for tent or trailer. Wallowa Lake State Park’s boat launch is free for anyone to use and have courtesy docks are available for boats as well. In addition, there is no day use fee so you’re free to come in, sit on the beach, enjoy it or go fishing.

That’s not all – a recent addition to the parkland scene is newest site at the north end of the lake and is a 62-acre parcel of protection. The Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site is a rolling grassland set amidst stunning backdrop of the Wallowa Mountains. Pronounced Ee-weh-TEMM-lye-kinn, the name translates to “at the edge of the lake.” The property is adjacent to a Nez Perce National Historical Park, site of Old Chief Joseph Gravesite and Cemetery.

OPRD Park Ranger, Madeline Lau, said that the area is the ancestral homeland of the Joseph band of the Nez Perce tribe. It is a sacred place to the native peoples who helped secure its protection in partnership with Oregon State Parks.

Nearby, another historic structure is worth your time for a visit: Wallowa Lake Lodge – the oldest private hotel at the lake that dates to 1923. Like the nearby state park, the lodge is a convenient walking distance to varied activities that the entire family will enjoy.

Perhaps you will try something different too! It is a unique ride that offers a bird’s eye view when you go aboard the Wallowa Lake Tramway to the top of Mt Howard. Rising 690 feet per minute, the tram ride is a thirteen and a half minute ride to the top. It climbs about 3700 feet to reach 8150 feet at the top. You’ll want to make time to explore the 2-mile hiking loop atop Mt Howard where there’s plenty of space to spend plenty of time and gain a peek into Oregon’s largest wilderness area. The tramway will take your breath away with mountain peaks that have inspirational names like Matterhorn, Eagle Cap and Ruby. Few places in Oregon allow you to stand shoulder to shoulder with a mountain range and vast wilderness area. It is the sort of place that makes you feel small!

The Eagle Cap Wilderness with bare granite peaks and forested ridges and u-shaped glaciated valleys characterize this enormous wilderness area of nearly half a million acres. All of it is accessible to visitors who willing to take the time and explore a corner of Oregon full of wonder and surprise.

About the Author: Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

This Grant’s Getaway includes one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders. See one, or better yet, see them all!

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. Mary Ellen Harris says…

    Your emphasis, at the beginning of your presentation, on how far away the Wallowas are could be seen as offensively Portland-centric. I know 2/3 of the population of Oregon lives in 1/3 of the state, but that still leaves lots of folks who love their state living outside the I-5 corridor. So, you might want to tone down the “end of the road” stuff — you could take the Halfway highway…

    Written on August 19th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  2. J Clemmons says…

    Mary Ellen – your comment could be seen as offensively east of the Cascades centric. Perhaps you should tone down the “outside of the I-5 corridor” stuff and accept the diversity of Oregon – from K Falls to Astoria we all love the Wallowas. Just be happy you have such a diverse state! You’re welcome on the West side any time!

    Written on September 5th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
  3. mollie stockton says…

    I love that you stated the bare facts but until you spend alot of time there people cant begin to imagine the beautiful impact the wallowa county can have on your life! Its definately as close to heaven as Ive ever been . the Mountains are more then amazing the prairies are so full of life you just dont know til you explore it all theroughly …I camped bear creek for a monthe with the bears right outside my tent grubbing everynight .I packed in as a guide with john wynan up to steamboat lake and further now thats expierancing the eaglecaps at thier best! I fished promise creek and stood in a patch of multicolored thistles and the polinating bees in that patch were the colors of the rainbow! I dont believe Ive ever been in a part of oregon I like better and IM a born and bred girl whos explored all of my state theroughly ! I panned the im’na’ha and viewed hells canyon from wallowa county and stood in a homestead that had news paper for insulation dated a hundred years to the day befor my birthday..IVe heard chief josephs spirit thundering down the vally and felt hte past warp with the present there in that beautiful corner of oregon..I cant say enough here to show you how much more there is to wallowa then what this sight says all I can say is either go live it or never know the mystery an
    d majesty of the best part of our state .
    sincerily mollie

    Written on August 18th, 2012 / Flag this Comment
  4. sharon sinner says…

    This looks like a GREAT PLACE to visit!

    Written on May 23rd, 2013 / Flag this Comment

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