Even during the summer months, getting to the Wallowas in eastern Oregon takes some commitment. Surrounded by the Eagle Cap Wilderness and glacial lakes, what the Wallowas lacks in cell service, it more than makes up for in natural beauty.
If peace and quiet is what you’re after, the snug cabins at Wallowa Lake Lodge offer uninterrupted lake views and regular wildlife sightings on the 10 acres that house the nearly 100-year old main lodge that looks like something right out of a Wes Anderson movie.
It’s all play and no wait at the community-owned and volunteer-run Ferguson Ridge Ski Area where tickets and equipment rentals are a mere $20 or less. Bring cash or check because they don’t take credit cards. Conditions permitting, the outdoor Wallowa Valley Community Ice Rink is free and open to the public during the winter season. BYO skates or rent from a business in town.
For a small town in eastern Oregon, Joseph offers lots of dining options from homey to gourmet. For casual fare and a crowd-pleasing menu, Embers Brew House Restaurant and Pub has lots to choose from including kid-friendly apps like warm bread sticks, fried mozzarella sticks and totchos. Naturally leavened, wood-fired pizza with hyper-seasonal, locally sourced toppings is not something you might expect to find in Joseph but that’s exactly what you’ll get at The Gold Room. Treat yourself and your crew to a fine piece of handmade chocolate at Arrowhead Chocolates where you’ll also find a solid cup of Stumptown coffee.
What to Pack
The drive from Portland to Joseph is just under six hours but if you add time for pit stops, the trip might be closer to seven or eight. Plan accordingly and while you still have WiFi, download some age-appropriate story-based podcasts that the whole family can listen to together en route. Pack a paper map when heading out to eastern Oregon as cell service and GPS directions can be spotty at times.
Pro Tip: Did you ever imagine yourself being transported to the Canadian Yukon while reading Jack London’s Call of the Wild? Even if you’ve never dreamed of such a journey, there’s something awe-inspiring about the courage and will it takes to travel great distances under extreme conditions with only dogs by your side. The Eagle Cap Extreme, a 200-mile sled-dog race, is Oregon’s only qualifier for the world-famous Ididarod and Yukon Quest races, and draws spectators from all over the country. Check the full schedule for musher and dog meet-and-greets and kids’ activities. Cheer the teams on from the sidelines starting at Ferguson Ski Ridge outside of Joseph on January 19, 2022.