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About Our Area

A Rural Mountain Town

We are located in the small destination town called Joseph at nearly the end of the road in Northeastern Oregon. Sometimes we’re asked, “What are you on the way to?” and we have to stifle a laugh because, really, we’re not on the way to anywhere. You could say we’re centrally located between Enterprise, Oregon, and Wallowa Lake, but there’s a lot more. We are on the edge of a number of important places. Natural beauty, for example. The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and the Eagle Cap Wilderness with numerous opportunities for hiking, bird and wildlife watching, wildflower identification and horseback riding. And we’re less than two miles from the northern shore of Wallowa Lake, a popular summer spot for waterskiing, boating, fishing, kayaking, and (if you like mountain lakes) swimming and high altitude SCUBA diving.

But there’s more than the natural beauty. The weekly Saturday Farmers Market begins in late Spring and features local produce and other locally made items. There are festivals and events nearly every weekend from June through September ranging from the juried Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts  to the classic western Chief Joseph Days Rodeo  and even a Swiss-Bavarian style Alpenfest celebrating Oregon’s Alps, the Wallowa Mountains.

If music is more to your liking, the Bronze, Blues and Brews Festival takes place every August and you’ll hear original Americana music over Labor Day Weekend in September at Juniper Jam. There are music events in the off-season catering to locals and visitors alike.  How often can you see a favorite singer-songwriter in an intimate setting of 20 to 30 people?

The Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce Events Calendar is a complete source of happenings around the county from large festivals to more intimate social events. Or let us help you design an itinerary specific to the kinds of  experiences you want to have.

The local shops and restaurants are part of our vibrant community too. With no large franchises in the entire Wallowa County, how locals survive can be a mystery to people that are not from here. But you can find most anything at the small independent stores (or if you were here long enough, it could be ordered in for you). And you’ll enjoy our shopkeepers and business owners who can give you their own spin on their favorite local places to go and things to do. Our restaurants are casual and comfortable with everything from prime rib to vegan fare. You’ll find that Wallowa County plays a significant role in the Eastern Oregon Brews Byway. The valley boasts a fine microbrewery, Terminal Gravity Brewing. And the Joseph-based international award-winning Stein Distillery  produces its wares from local water and ingredients.

Art Town Experience

Joseph is the center of a thriving visual arts community and many visual artists call Wallowa County home.  Walk the downtown Main Street and you’ll see monumental sized bronzes on nearly every street corner, most of which were cast in artistic bronze foundries located here.  You’ll find art galleries with mediums like bronze, watercolor, plein air painting, photography, art glass, fine jewelry, and even segmented wood turning.  Several artists participate in the Joseph Oregon Artists Studio Tour  program and offer complimentary educational tours of their studios ranging from antique Swiss Rose Engine work to Native American flute making.  We are happy to help you arrange cultural and artistic-oriented activities during your stay.

The Northeastern Oregon Great Outdoors

Our location in Eastern Oregon makes us an ideal hub for various outdoor day trips. The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve  is less than an hour away and provides limited public access to experience this largest grassland preserve of its type in the United States. In 2013, a portion of the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

Hells Canyon Scenic Byway All-American Road wanders by Joseph and is the only All-American Scenic Byway in Oregon.

The Nez Perce Indians called this region the Land of Winding Water for good reason. Water courses throughout the county and fly fishing is a popular activity. The Joseph Fly Shoppe is the local full service destination fly shop. If you’d like a guide to take you to great fishing locations, Winding Waters River Expeditions provides these services. If you’d like to try out the Wallowa River on private land with a fifth generation Wallowa County fishing guide, investigate the 6 Ranch Fly Fishing on Facebook or Instagram.

At Wallowa Lake, the Wallowa Lake Marina rents all sorts of watercraft during the summer. Stand up paddle equipment is available through Winding Waters River Expeditions. At both ends of the lake are swimming beaches and public boat launches. Be advised that the lake is snow fed and the water can be brisk for swimmers (even in August). SCUBA divers should consider dry suits and regulators suitable for cold water diving.