Formed by a series of glaciers, Wallowa Lake lies a mile south of Joseph amidst the towering peaks of the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon. This picturesque wilderness is the perfect spot for long hikes and water sports. Experience the sacred land of the Nez Perce, or escape to the alpine meadows and pick wildflowers. Whether you seek a warm summer vacation or prefer the snowy peaks in the winter, Wallowa has plenty to offer for visitors all ages. Book a stay at one of numerous Wallowa Lake vacation rentals, including cozy cabins and cottages. This guide details 10 popular attractions in the area to help fill your itinerary.
1. Go Kayaking
Touting some of the clearest water in the region, Wallowa Lake is the ideal spot for kayakers. Young paddlers enjoy seeing the fish swim below as they skim across the clear water, or skull along the shore for a chance to see river otters as well as goats and elk in the mountains above. If you dont bring your boat with you, you can rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, paddle boats, or motor boats at the Wallowa Lake Marina, which is located at the southern end of the body of water.
2. Hike the Eagle Cap Wilderness
Characterized by its spacious meadows, the Eagle Cap Wilderness offers hiking for all ages and skill levels. Here, you can explore the crystal clear mountain streams, climb to the soaring mountain peaks for amazing views, and be sure to bring your camera to take pictures of the bighorn sheep and bald eagles. From short day hikes to multi-day hikes, the Wallowa Mountains have plenty of areas to explore. Stop by the Wallowa Mountains Visitor Center to get information on the hikes and the latest weather conditions before setting out.
3. Ride a Horse Through the Mountains
If you prefer to explore the mountains on horseback, stop by the Eagle Cap Wilderness Pack Station and choose a guided tour. Rent one of the outfitter horses or bring your own from home. Choose from easy one-hour trips that are ideal for families with young children, or opt for an all-day ride to cover more ground. Trips range from traversing mountain peaks to traveling along the river canyon bottoms.
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4. Experience the Wallowa Lake Tram
The Wallowa Lake Tramway is the longest tramway in the world. It takes you up a mesmerizing 8,500 feet in the air above Wallowa Lake and the valley below. At the top, you and the family can enjoy a meal at the Summit Grill Restaurant and walk the three-mile loop trail for a view of the Blue Mountains. Kids can enjoy watching the chipmunks and prairie dogs that are plentiful and quite friendly. The paths are well-maintained and easy to maneuver, and occasionally you can experience live music before descending back down to head back to your vacation rental.
5. Cycle Along the Paved Trails
If your family loves cycling, enjoy the bike lane along Hurricane Creek Road. This spacious paved path is safe and pleasurable for all ages. There are also lightly trafficked valley farm roads with spectacular scenery and friendly people. If you prefer to go off the beaten path, you can find plenty of mountain bike trails and forest service roads to explore. Stop by the Wallowa Visitor’s Center for road maps to help navigate the back country.
6. Sign up for Whitewater Rafting
Thrill-seekers have several options for fun near Wallowa Lake, including whitewater rafting with the Winding Waters River Expeditions. Choose from a trip down the Snake River through Hells Canyon or opt for a ride down the Salmon River. The guides have over 20 years of rafting experience, which helps ensure a safe and fun trip for your family. All trips are designed for both beginners and experienced rafters and include a brief lesson on navigating, transportation to and from the river and meals.
7. Snowshoe Across the Open Prairie
Get some fresh air while snowshoeing through the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and the perfect powdery blend of snow in the open prairies. This forest offers several cross country skiing and snowshoeing areas for those who enjoy winter sports. Many travelers enjoy long walks through the remote back country trails near the Anthony Lakes Mountain Resorts. There are several designated Nordic trails for those with more experience. After, stop at one of the cafes in downtown Joseph for some hot cocoa before heading back to your vacation rental.
8. Explore Hat Point
Hat Point Overlook is located along the ridgeline above Hells Canyon and Wallowa Lake. At the top of the summit, youll find a fire lookout tower that the kids can climb for excellent views of the valley below. There are picnic tables and plenty of trails for biking and hiking.
9. Fish for Sockeye Salmon
Wallowa Lake is the perfect spot for fishing. Bring your gear or rent some from the Wallowa Marina. Catch everything from rainbow trout to smallmouth bass and sockeye salmon. The West Fork is mainly for trout, while the East Fork is where you want to go for brook trout and salmon.
10. Have Some Fun on the Bumper Boats
Kids will enjoy The Village at Wallowa Lake. Here, you can rent bumper boats and spend some time on the water where you are guaranteed to get a little wet. Children under the age of six must be accompanied by another rider.
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