KidTripster Teen: Discover Wallowa Lake, one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon.
Located in Eastern Oregon, Wallowa Lake provides opportunities for both relaxation and adventure. With no city lights or traffic, it’s one of my favorite spots to vacation with my family. We love to unplug and simply explore the water, mountains, and surrounding forests. Everywhere you look, Wallowa Lake yields astounding beauty!
What to do?
My all-time favorite thing to do is to take a ride up the Wallowa Lake Tramway. It’s steep, but 2-1/2 miles of hiking trails await you atop Mount Howard. You'll get the ultimate 360-degree view as you look down on Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. When I go up the Tramway with the Wallowa Mountains circling me, I feel like I’m in the opening scene of The Sound of Music! You can even enjoy breakfast or lunch at the summit while you listen to live music from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Know that the Tramway is only open from May until early October.
When you’re at Wallowa Lake, spending time on the water is a must-do. My family and I bring our own equipment, but you also can rent stand-up paddleboards, paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, row boats, pontoons or motor boats from Wallowa Lake Marina for an hour, five hours or a whole day. Cost: Varies. The marina can also hook you up with fishing gear. Wallowa Lake has monster-sized fish. In fact, the world's largest Kokanee salmon - 9 pounds and 10 ounces - was caught here!
The Eagle Cap Wilderness Pack Station gives you the opportunity to discover the surrounding forests and trails on horseback. These rides are guided, and you can choose your own adventure - a 2-hour, half-day or an all-day ride. On my two-hour excursion, my horse and guide led my mom and I up into the hills. We could peak through the trees for bird’s eye views of the lake below. Cost: 2-hour ride $65-70/person; Half-day ride $120/person; All-day ride $175-200/person.
KidTripster Tip: Reserve your ride in advance and make sure to show up early to fill out forms and meet your horse.
When the sun goes down for the day, and there are limited clouds in the sky, look up. The stargazing at Wallowa Lake is absolutely incredible since you are nowhere near big city lights. You can see stars wherever you are, but I recommend driving out where there aren’t as many trees. That way, you can get an unobstructed view of the glimmering Milky Way.
Drive into the town of Joseph to shop and discover the history of the area. The whole family will enjoy art galleries, gift and coffee shops, book stores, and so much more. A lot of these places carry local goods as well, which is one of the reasons why I love this town. On your way back from Joseph, visit the national historic landmark of Old Chief Joseph’s Gravesite. It’s a significant location for the Nez Perce people who lived in the area hundreds of years ago.
Photo courtesy: Eagle Cap Wilderness Pack Station
Where to stay?
Wallowa Lake Resort and Flying Arrow Resortare two popular choices when traveling to the lake. These resorts have beautiful vacation rentals that are in the woods or right along the lake. The vacation rentals are extremely cozy. However, if you and your family want more outdoor time, park your RV at the Park at the River; it’s located right next to Wallowa Lake, so you can wake up and head straight to the water.
KipTripster Tip: For all of these lodging options, make sure to schedule well in advance, especially during the summer.
For a sweet treat, visit the Snack Shack near the bottom of the Tramway for fantastic mountain berry shakes. Or stop at the shop that I look forward to the most: Arrowhead Chocolates. Its chocolates are mouthwatering; try the award-winning huckleberry truffle. And when you order a mocha, you get a spoon covered in your choice of chocolate!
In any season, Wallowa Lake is a treat. During the summer, you and your family will have more outdoor activities available. While there are events (and snow!) at Wallowa Lake during winter, overall access can be tricky due to weather conditions.
Mai Anh Boaz is a college sophomore from Portland, Oregon. Her passions include her faith, being with others, and searching for the best almond milk mocha.