Joseph, Oregon, Activities

Activities and Attractions In and Around the Area

Joseph, Oregon, has a lot to offer anyone who enjoys scenic beauty and outdoor recreation. The small community of Joseph is located at the north end of Wallowa Lake, well known for its trophy-sized fish. It is a place where you can be as active or as laid back as you like. The town is surrounded by wilderness areas, including Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, and the Hells Canyon National Scenic Area. In the summer you can enjoy hiking, fishing, and boating. Winter brings abundant opportunity for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

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    Picture of Wallowa Lake State Park near Joseph Oregon ©Angela M. Brown
    Wallowa Lake State Park. Wallowa Lake State Park

    One of the more popular parks in the Oregon State Park system, Wallowa Lake State Park offers the full list of outdoor fun. Campers can choose from RV or tent sites as well as yurts and cabins. Campers and day visitors will enjoy nature trails, picnic areas, swimming, and bird and wildlife watching. Wallowa Lake Marina, located inside the park, has a boat ramp and extensive dock space. The marina store offers paddle boat, kayak, and motor boat rentals along with fishing gears and licenses, water recreation supplies, snacks, and gift items.

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    Picture of Wallowa Lake Tramway from top of Mt. Howard (Angela M. Brown)
    Wallowa Lake Tramway from top of Mt. Howard. Wallowa Lake Tramway from top of Mt. Howard

    Enjoy views of Wallowa Lake and the majestic Eagle Cap Wilderness Area aboard a 4-person tram car. The Wallowa Lake Tramway takes you to the top of Mount Howard, where you can relax and take in the views at the Summit Grill and Alpine Patio. You can also wander through the mountain top's interpretive trail system. The sometimes-steep trip between the tram's boarding area and the top takes approximately 15 minutes. The Wallowa Lake Tramway only operates during the warm months of the year, typically late May through early October.

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    The Eagle Cap Excursion Train follows the Grand Ronde and Wallowa Rivers, passing through scenic wilderness, canyons, and cliffs. The 63-mile train ride is scheduled on some Saturdays, June through October. It lasts 3.5 hours and includes lunch. The station to board the Eagle Cap Excursion Train is located in the town of Elgin. Reservations are highly recommended.

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    Chief Joseph Grave Site (Angela M. Brown)
    Chief Joseph Grave Site. Chief Joseph Grave Site

    Old Chief Joseph's remains were moved to this sacred Nez Perce site overlooking Wallowa Lake in 1926. A stone memorial marks the grave site inside the 5-acre cemetery, a National Historic Landmark that is part of the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. The Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Area, located adjacent to the gravesite area, is part of the traditional lands of the Nez Perce Tribe. One mile of trail wanders through hilly grasslands and offers stunning lake and Eagle Cap mountain views. The trail system can be accessed from the Old Chief Joseph Grave Site or from a parking area slightly north of the grave site. Both are located along the west side of Highway 82.

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    Visit Bronze Foundaries and Take Bronze Artwalk

    The Wallowa region is home to many artists. Over the years, the area has become a hub for sculptors who work in bronze. Several significant bronze sculptures are displayed in public areas around town. These artworks can be enjoyed on Bronze Artwalk, a walking tour of downtown Joseph. A brochure with Bronze Artwalk map and descriptions can be picked up at locations around town. You also have the opportunity to visit galleries and showrooms at the local foundries. If you would like to tour a bronze foundry, please make advance reservations with the individual facility.

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    The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway loops through the towns of La Grande, Wallowa, Elgin, Enterprise, Joseph, Halfway, Richland, and Baker City. While the entire Hells Canyon Scenic Byway is best experienced over two or more days, the Grande Ronde and Wallowa River Valley portions of it can be enjoyed from Joseph. The eastern section of the loop is on a rough forest service road that is closed most of the year; be sure to check in advance to make sure the road is open prior to making the trip.

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    Located in downtown Joseph, the Wallow County Museum features the region's Nez Perce and pioneer history.