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The Wallowa Lake Destination is located in parts of eastern Oregon and western Idaho. The Washington-Oregon state line is the boundary line of the region to the northwest, and the area encapsulates parts of the Nez Perce Reservation, the Nez Perce National Forest, and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Part of the Snake River runs through the destination, including Snake River Canyon. The canyon is primarily known for white water rafting, and tourists can take guided rafting tours. As the river measures to be over 1,000 miles in length, it is ranked the 9th longest river in the United States. Flowing from Wyoming, the Snake River runs through Idaho, Oregon, and Washington before coming to an end.[3] The most notable site within the destination is Wallowa Lake,  a ribbon lake located a mile south of Joseph, Oregon. The lake has been used for recreational purposes since 1880 and is formed from glacier runoff nearby. Prior to the formation of Oregon as a state, the first inhabitants of the region were the Nez Perce tribe. The treaty of 1855 guaranteed the lands around the lake for the usage of the Nez Perce tribe, however, the treaty was revoked by 1863, and the designated lands for tribal use were shrunk so as not to include land that potentially had gold that could be mined.[1] Today, there is a state park at the south end of the lake which offers year-round camping, fishing, picnic areas, and access to water sports. [2]

What Grangeville is known for

Situated on the border of Oregon and Idaho, the Wallowa Lake Destination encompasses parts of the Nez Perce Reservation, the Snake River, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, and the Nez Perce National Forest. The northwestern border of the area is the Washington-Oregon state line. Wallowa Lake, the namesake of the destination, is a ribbon lake located a mile south of Joseph, Oregon. The lake has been used as a tourist destination since 1880 with activities such as kayaking, water skiing, and boating.[1] Other sites within the region include parts of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, the Nez Perce National Forest, and the Blue-Wallowa Mountains. The Blue-Wallowa Mountains is the second tallest mountain range in the state of Oregon, after the Cascade Range. With over 435 miles of trails winding through the mountains, views of alpine meadows, low grasslands, and pine forests can be seen.[7]

For those visiting the destination, there is a range of attractions that can be enjoyed by a variety of people. Minam State Park, located between Elgin and Wallowa, offers the opportunity to raft and camp. Campers can raft on the river and return to the park to stay overnight. Another draw for tourism is Flora, Oregon. The city is reported to be a ghost town and features a church building, schoolhouse, and other small business buildings. Additionally, the Nez Perce National Historic Trail is located in the region and features a cemetery that is said to have the remains of Chief Joseph, the chief of the people when they were forced out of Wallowa. Tourists can also visit Hat Point Overlook, which has views of Hells Canyon below.[8]

Within the borders of the Wallowa Lake Destination, there is no city with a population of over 2,000 people. As of the 2010 census, there were 7,008 residents living in Wallowa County. The towns incorporated in the county are Joseph, Wallowa, Lostine, and Enterprise, which is the county seat of Wallowa County. There are also multiple towns that are not currently incorporated in the county such as Barlett, Eden, Flora, Fruita, Lewis, Troy, and Zumwalt. According to the 2010 census, 96% of the population of the county was white, with 0.6% being Native American, and 0.4% being African American.[9]

A potential area of interest to those visiting the Wallowa Lake Destination is the Snake River. Spanning over 1,000 miles, the river flows from Wyoming to Idaho and Oregon before ending in Washington. The Snake River is the ninth longest river in the country, and its drainage basin spans over six states. Within the borders of the region in question can be found the Snake River Canyon, which is known for its white water rafting potential. Some may raft the river as a solo trip, but there are also various companies that offer guides through the rapids.  [3]


The Wallowa Lake Destination is found in parts of eastern Oregon and western Idaho. With regard to the climate of the region, weather conditions vary depending on the elevation. In August, the highest temperatures of the year tend to occur, with average highs of 85.8 degrees Fahrenheit. November typically gets the highest amount of precipitation in comparison to the rest of the year, with an annual average of 13 days that see rainfall. Throughout the land that surrounds Wallowa Lake, nearly 109 days each year receive precipitation. Wallowa sees more snowfall than the majority of Oregon. January in particular accumulates roughly around 11.4 inches of snowfall. Reportedly, the "best time of the year" to visit Wallowa Lake for moderate temperatures is June, July, and September.[6]

A unique geographic feature of the destination is the Blue-Wallowa Mountains, also known as the Wallowa Mountains. This mountain range has the second highest peaks in the state, after the Cascade Range. The name of the mountain range comes from the Nez Perce tribe that inhabited the area before foreign settlers arrived. There are attractions in the mountains that visitors can access year-round, although some of the more popular sites are only available during warmer months. Tourists can ride the Wallowa Lake Tramway, which is said to be the steepest gondola in North America. Beginning at the top of Mount Howard, by the end riders will have traveled 1.83 miles horizontally and 3,700 feet vertically.[7]

Within the destination is the Whitman-Wallowa National Forest, home to a diverse array of plants and animals. Sockeye salmon can be found in Wallowa Lake and is the primary fish in the area. Some fowl species that visitors can see around the lake include mountain chickadee, northern pigmy owl, varied thrush, and bald eagle. Red foxes have also been spotted within the boundaries of the destination. Prairie smoke, small-flowered blue-eyed mary, donkey tail, and water forget-me-nots are varieties of flowers found near Wallowa Lake. [5]


The namesake of the destination, Wallowa Lake, was first inhabited by members of the Nez Perce Tribe, prior to the exploration of the area by Lewis and Clark. When settlers first came to the surrounding area, the lake was given to the Nez Perce tribe in the Treaty of 1855. After conflict between miners in the area and the tribe, amendments to the treaty were added in 1863, shrinking the land of the tribe. While the Nez Perce people originally refused to sign the new treaty, after pressure and violence from settlers, they eventually signed the agreement. The town nearest the lake, Joseph, was named after one of the chiefs of the Nez Perce people, the same chief who signed the treaty to leave Wallowa Lake.[1] The Nez Perce people were originally called Nimíipuu, meaning “we, the people.” When European settlers arrived in the region, they called both the Nimíipuu and Chinook tribes Nez Perce, meaning “pierced nose,” although only the Chinook tribe practiced that form of body modification.[4]

Today, in Wallowa County, the largest industry is healthcare and social assistance, followed closely by the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industries. Construction is also an important industry in the area.[10] Since 1985, multiple bronze foundries have opened in the county, in the towns of Joseph and Enterprise, which helped to stabilize the economy of the area. [9]