A World of Wonder at Wallowa Lake

August 18, 2011 (Updated February 27, 2014)

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. 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

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.