Wallowa Lake: The Crown Jewel of Northeastern Oregon

Wallowa Lake is known as the crown jewel of northeastern Oregon, so naturally, camping at Wallowa Lake State Park is a royal treat.

This park is nestled on the southern shore of Wallowa Lake, among the Wallowa Mountains. The area is often called the “Switzerland of Oregon” because it looks a lot like the Swiss Alps.

There is an amazing variety of wildlife here, and the nearby Eagle Cap Wilderness includes abundant trails for hiking, horseback riding or llama trekking. I'm sure you'll be as spellbound by the park's beauty as my husband and I were.

After setting up camp, we headed for the Wallowa Lake Tramway, the steepest tram in North America. Imagine getting whisked up to the 8,150-foot summit of Mt. Howard, rising 3,800 feet in less than 20 minutes! (Gondola rides are available from late May through September. Call 1-541-432-5331.)

The summit provides spectacular views, and you can grab a bite to eat at the Northwest's highest restaurant: The Summit Grill. We spent the day hiking on the trails that lace the mountaintop. I suggest you wear sunglasses and sunscreen, because the sun is intense at these heights, and bring warm clothing, since the weather can change quickly.

If camping's not your thing, consider staying at the 22-room Wallowa Lake Lodge. Built in 1923 and now fully restored, it stands on the south shore of Wallowa Lake (nightly rates vary by season; 1-541-432-9821 ).

If you visit in September, plan on attending Alpenfest, held next to the Tramway. The festival includes bands, yodelers and dance troupes, not to mention the world's longest alpenhorn–154 feet! It's held on the third weekend after Labor Day, and it's a lot of fun.

So whether you're looking for wilderness adventure or a polka band on your next camping trip, you'll find it at Wallowa Lake State Park.

Before You Visit

Wallowa Lake State Park is located near Joseph, about 75 miles east of La Grande in northeastern Oregon.

From I-84, take Exit 261 and travel north on State Highway 82 about 75 miles to the park.

The park includes 121 sites with full hookups and 89 tent sites. Nightly rates vary by season.

For camping reservations, call 1-800-452-5687 up to 9 months in advance. For more information call 1-541-432-4185.

More to See

Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America, is just east of Wallowa Lake State Park.

The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, is 9 miles northeast of Baker City, which is about 45 miles south of La Grande on I-84.

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