Set in an area of unsurpassed beauty, Wallowa Lake sits on the edge of a sausage-shaped lake carved by glaciers. The lake itself, with a view of the Wallowa Mountains, is amazingly clear and perfect for water sports such as boating and swimming. Fish either from your boat or from the shore. Hiking and biking trails are plentiful, including the Chief Joseph, Aneroid Lake, and West Fork Trails. Make sure you and the kids take a ride on the famous Wallowa Lake Tramway, which climbs to the top of Mount Howard and allows views of four states. While you’re up there, enjoy the grub at the Summit Grill, which is known for its sandwiches and side orders of chili and soup. Wallowa Lake vacation rentals include roomy cabins on the lake in the shade of fir trees with decks for outdoor dining or relaxing. Here are 11 areas to find the perfect place for your next trip to Wallowa Lake.

1. Joseph

top view of the town
Source: Flickr / Sam Beebe

This quiet town offers balloon rides over the countryside that will thrill both you and the kids. Try whitewater rafting on the Snake River, the Salmon River or the Grand Ronde, or ascend the mountains via the Joseph Branch Railriders, which are open carriages that move along railroad tracks but go where no train can. For dinner, try the Embers Restaurant for pizza and American fare, or head to Arrowhead Chocolates, which specializes in dessert.

2. Enterprise

thick trees and mountain
Source: Flickr / J. Stephen Conn

This town, surrounded by mountains, pine forests, and meadows, beckons with the usual vacation pursuits of hiking and horseback riding. What makes Enterprise truly special is the bronze foundries nearby, where artists make sculptures out of the metal. Take the kids and watch these artists ply their craft after a relaxing day at your vacation rental.

3. Lostine

rocks seen under the clear water
Source: Flickr / Nick Cramer

This tiny community is famous for its stunning geography, including the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway and the nearby Zumwalt Prairie, which seems to stretch to the horizon. If you’re going to whip up a meal or two in your vacation rental, be sure to visit M. Crow & Company, which sells organic, grass-fed beef, just-laid eggs and raw milk.

4. Wallowa

rocky mountain
Source: Flickr / Melissa Delzio

Wallowa is about 28 miles north of Wallowa Lake and is also found near Hells Canyon. It is the traditional home of the Nez Perce people, and you should try to attend the yearly, three-day Tamkaliks Celebration. It features a friendship potluck with salmon, elk, deer, and buffalo. For dining out, go to the Blonde Strawberry, and enjoy its desserts, soups, and snacks. You can also take the family to the Little Bear Drive-in, a tidy place painted cherry engine red that specializes in all kinds of burgers.

5. Minam

gray wolf walking on the snow
Source: Flickr / Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

Minam is found at the junction of the Minam and Wallowa Rivers. It is the home of the Minam State Recreation Area and has trips to the mountains via rail riding. You might glimpse a wolf or two. The rivers are the places for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

6. Elgin

rock formation
Source: Flickr / Hiroki ONO

About an hour and a quarter from Wallowa Lake, little Elgin has its own opera house on North 8th Avenue. Try and see a play put on by the community theater company. You can also take the family on a trip into the wilderness via the Eagle Cap Excursion Train. Sit back and take in the magnificent scenery and get a glimpse of the wildlife, including elks, eagles, and bears.

7. Imnaha

post office
Source: Flickr / Don Barrett

If you want to take a trip to the Hat Point Lookout at Hells Canyon, get a vacation rental in Imnaha. Right on the edge of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, it is not far from the Snake River and its whitewater rafting. The kids will adore the fact that Imnaha is also not far from Zumwalt, which is a ghost town.

8. Cove

stone bridge
Source: Flickr / Cary Bass-Deschenes

This little town is found at the edge of the Grande Ronde Valley and gives views of Mount Fanny and the Blue Mountains. The residents are inordinately proud of their cherries, so try to drop in on the annual Cove Cherry Fair. Not only will you be able to buy cherries by the bushel, but you and the kids can enjoy crafts, food trucks, games, a sourdough pancake breakfast and, best of all, rides in hot air balloons.

9. Summerville

farm house

Summerville is just south of the Blue Mountains, which are expectedly beautiful but, unexpectedly, the home of the largest living being on earth. This would be a fungus/mushroom called Armillaria solid pipes. It is over 2,000 years old, covers 3.4 square miles, and since most of it is underground you won’t be able to see it. Besides this, the mountains are the thing for the hikers and mountain climbers in your family.

10. La Grande

green fields
Source: Flickr / Sam Beebe

The very name of this area was bestowed upon it because of its overwhelming beauty. The seat of Union County, La Grande is just east of the Blue Mountains and was a rest stop along the Oregon Trail back in the day. You and the kids may want to take a dip in the Hot Lake Springs on a cool fall day, go antiquing at Craig’s or Antiques on Adams or swim in the river at Hilgard Junction State Park. Restaurants include La Fiesta Mexican, Ten Depot Street with its famous steak or even the Flying J Travel Plaza. It is a truck stop, but that means delicious and filling grub.

11. Halfway

wooden signage
Source: Flickr / Baker County Tourism

Halfway from where? This city is halfway between the towns of Pine and Cornucopia. It is the best place for rafting and jet boating, relaxing and fishing at nearby Hell’s Canyon. At the site of basalt mines, you can take the kids to the Pine Valley Community Museum and learn the history of the mines as well as the history of the area’s cattle ranching and tourism. Don’t forget to come in the winter when the winter sports like snowmobiling rule.