Looking for some suggestions for your trip to Wallowa Lake? Well, great! You’re at the right place.
Camping at Lake Wallowa like we did, is the best way to experience the area’s beauty and we’ll let you know how! This article covers TEN great activities you shouldn’t be missing if you’re on a trip to Wallowa.
There’s no doubt that Wallowa Lake is one of Oregon’s most beautiful spots and there are tons of things to do in Wallowa Lake, Oregon. You can go camping, swimming, paragliding, fishing, skiing and much more.
We’d recommend you explore the best hikes in the Wallowas if you’re a hiker. You’ll definitely love it.
Wallowa Lake can be reached from the south by way of the Wallowa River, passing through a small community with vacation homes, lodgings, restaurants, and other small businesses. The water from here is so pure that many people use it as drinking water. Furthermore, this water continues to flow into the Columbia River and onward to the Pacific Ocean.
An interesting Fact – Wallowa Lake is known to occasionally freeze solid in the depths of winter at an elevation of 4,372 ft. above sea level.
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Wallowa Lake Activities – Things to Do in Wallowa Lake
Adventurers of all levels will find Wallowa Lake State Park a paradise on earth where they can kayak and backpack on weekends.
Along with other breathtaking natural wonders in Oregon such as the Columbia River Gorge and Painted Hills, the lake remains one of the state’s top attractions. Although it is not the only place on the list with a wealth of activities, it stands out as having the most variety.
From relaxing in a canoe to taking on a mountain summit, we’ve compiled our favorite adventures in the area.
- Hike the Hurricane Creek Trail
- Fly Fish the Wallowa River
- Backpack to Ice Lake
- Kayak Wallowa Lake
- Paraglide Over Wallowa Lake
- Explore the Trails on Mount Howard
- Go Whitewater Rafting
- Backpack to Mirror Lake and Eagle Cap
- Go Skiing at the Wallowa Alpine Huts
- Go Horseback Riding
1. Hike the Hurricane Creek Trail
Hikers should make this their first priority when they reach the Wallowas region.
Hurricane Creek trails provide access to the Eagle Cap Wilderness for hikers and horses. In addition to a trail that leads to the Lakes Basin trails, the site has some stock facilities and day-use areas. It also has extended stay parking areas. A variety of wildflowers can be found along the trail as well as granite and limestone cliffs.
This route offers panoramic views of Sacajawea, Matterhorn, and Eagle Cap Peaks if you ascend gradually across subalpine meadows and then pass-through forested areas. There are many breathtaking views and photographic opportunities around the basin when hiking cross-country. Because the trail follows the creek, there is plenty of water around.
Along Hurricane Creek, you can access Falls Creek and Echo/Billy Jones Lake trails as well, connected through a side trail. There is also great fishing in most lakes. Among the animals, you might see are mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and others of a smaller size.
If you’re planning on a staying trip, there are grazing and camping areas, but you must keep away from the shore of the lake in order to protect the fragile vegetation. You’ll find a Wallowa campground nearby called Hurricane Creek Campground.
2. Fly Fish the Wallowa River
Fly fishing for Rainbow and Eastern Brook Trout is super fun in the river above Wallowa Lake. Most Rainbow Trout inhabit the West Fork, while Eastern Brook Trout inhabit the East Fork.
The Wallowa River, which is named after the mountain range in which it runs, is the best river for fly fishing in the entire region as it supports a healthy population of rainbow trout and steelhead. There are options to fish above and below Wallowa Lake, but most fly fishermen prefer to fish downstream, between a dozen and two dozen miles below the lake.
In general, trout fishing along the shoreline is good anywhere within 50 yards. Traditionally, the lake inlet is a safe bet, but near the dam on the opposite end can be a good spot as well.
Because most of the western shoreline is private, you will need a boat or canoe to access it, but the northwest shore offers some of the best fishing for trout, particularly with flies.
Alternatively, you can park and walk down to the shore on the southeast side through a road that runs parallel to the highway on the lake’s side and ducks down.
From there, it is only a short walk to the shore, but it is steep and slick, not the best location if you’re unfit. With its many sitting rocks and excellent trout fishing, it is a great spot to go fishing for trout.
3. Backpack to Ice Lake
With an elevation gain of 4,520′, this 18-mile roundtrip hike begins at the end of Wallowa Lake and remains pretty mellow for the first 2.5 miles. Approximately 3380′ of elevation gain is gained along the trail, ending at Ice Lake at 7,900′.
Near Wallowa Lake State Park is the Wallowa Lake Trailhead, where the hike to Ice Lake begins. Eagle Cap Wilderness permits are free here, and there is no charge for parking as well.
A popular trail for hikers and pack mules alike, the trail begins along the dusty and rocky West Fork Wallowa River Trail. Summer brings tall stands of firs and wildflowers along its banks along the West Fork Wallowa River. Several miles in, and the real hike begins on Ice Lake Trail.
Ice Lake is at the top of a hike, and you may be dying to dip into it at that point. If you’re planning your trip on summer weekends, the lake can be crowded, so you might want to secure a site first: Take the left fork of the creek and then cross the creek to find good camping spots on the eastern side of the lake.
4. Kayak Wallowa Lake
Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, is well known, but have you heard about the Wallowa Lake monster yet? In this sparkling lake in Oregon’s North-Eastern corner, Nez Perce legend states that a huge sea creature, up to 20 feet long, dwells in its depths. Sounds interesting right?
It is a must to kayak Wallowa Lake, another one of Wallowa Lake State Park’s many adventures. There are kayaks available for rent at the Wallowa Lake Marina, so you won’t have to worry if you don’t have one.
We can’t think of a better way to spend a day in the region than kayaking Wallowa Lake. It’s one of the best ways to see everything the lake has to offer.
Fishing is also excellent in the lake, so if you can manage to rent a boat or own your own watercraft, you should consider it too. Here you can find some of America’s largest landlocked salmon, known as kokanee. In addition to rainbow trout, there are several other fish species in the lake.
Wallowa Lake is a gorgeous lake and one of our favorite places to kayak in Oregon. It’s a great starting point for many sightseeing treks and adventures.
5. Paraglide Over Wallowa Lake
There is no better way to see the Wallowas than with this paragliding tour. You will not regret taking it. Todd is a fantastic guide and makes the experience memorable and worthwhile. From the grasslands to the mountain peaks and lakes, the views are out of this world. You experience it once and you’ll surely make this a part of your yearly trip.
There’s nothing for the faint of heart about paragliding, but it’s surely an exhilarating way to observe nature in its pristine form. There’s no better way to experience the incredible Wallowas than flying over them, and we could not recommend it more highly.
There are not many mountain ranges where you can paraglide, so take advantage of the opportunity while you’re at Wallowa. Paragliding at Wallowa is offered by a company called Wallowa Paragliding, and while the flights can be expensive, they’re well worth every penny.
Paragliding tandem with a licensed professional guide means you won’t have to worry about safety concerns, so all you should do is enjoy the scenery. There aren’t many paragliding opportunities throughout the year; it’s mainly a summer attraction, so make sure to schedule your trip accordingly.
6. Explore the Trails on Mount Howard
There is an 8,255 ft. peak near Wallowa Lake called Mount Howard. At the top, there are a number of trails that are easy and family-friendly that can be reached only via the Wallowa Lake Tramway.
Built-in 1970, it gained a total of 3,700 vertical feet, becoming the longest lift in North America at the time. You will ride a gondola up Mount Howard for 15 minutes and cover 1.8 miles.
- It can be a little dizzying and is not recommended for people who are afraid of heights.
The Wallowa Lake Tramway is definitely a must-see when visiting the Wallowa Lake area, but the tramway rates are outrageous, ranging from $26 for youth to $36 for adults!
It’s a wonderful place to take the family to hike on Mount Howard’s trails. With the trails, you won’t have to hike or backpack deep into the wilderness in order to get a great view of the epic Wallowa Mountain range.
Whether you are a toddler or a great-grandmother, these trails are perfect for everyone. It is easy to navigate the trails with sneakers or even sturdy sandals since most are wide and packed dirt.
The top isn’t filled with trails, but hikers and casual adventurers can enjoy scenic paths for a few miles. The views and experience are beyond compare, even though the trails aren’t the hardest.
7. Go Whitewater Rafting
Northeast Oregon is filled with rivers that offer fantastic Whitewater rafting, Wallowa River being one. In Wallowa Lake State Park, Winding Waters River Expeditions can take you on a trip of a lifetime. If you’re in the mood for adventure, there are dozens of outfitters that can help you out.
In spite of the fact that you won’t quite be in the Wallowa Mountains, you’ll still experience some of the outdoors and scenic views the region has to offer.
These Whitewater rafting trips require practically no preparation on your part. Gourmet meals are prepared for you, and the outfitters take care of the camping gear, so all you have to worry about is having fun. As you make your way down the river, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to fish and swim too.
Despite being in the middle of nowhere, your trip guides are taking care of all your needs, so it won’t be an inexpensive trip. Generally, a trip between three and five days will cost between one and two thousand dollars per person, apart from younger children, who will usually be able to go for less.
8. Backpack to Mirror Lake and Eagle Cap
The Eagle Cap Wilderness is an excellent place to backpack, and dispersed camping is permitted as well.
Camping at Mirror Lake and hiking up Eagle Cap the following day would be the most obvious itinerary. There are also two nearby lakes, Upper Lake and Moccasin Lake, where you can camp nearby.
We enjoy the backpacking trip to Mirror Lake and Eagle Cap the most although there are practically infinite backpacking trips in and around the Eagle Cap Wilderness. In addition to the main trail, you have the option of extending the trip and modifying the route, but you’ll cover approximately eight miles on the main trail, culminating at Eagle Cap peak.
There are few backpacking trips as beautiful as Mirror Lake and Eagle Cap in the entire Wallowas region, and when we say this, we actually mean it.
As the hike nears its end, the elevation gain becomes quite dramatic, making this a somewhat strenuous hike. Check out this backpacking trip if you’re hoping to experience the best that Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains have to offer.
9. Go Skiing at the Wallowa Alpine Huts
Wallowa isn’t just great for summer trips. A trip during winters will also be worth it. A ski trip at the Wallowa Alpine Huts might be just what you’re looking for if you’re looking for an adventure off the beaten track.
In this area, you can enjoy excellent backcountry skiing, and the Wallowa Alpine Huts will provide you with meals and snacks while you experience winter in the Wallowa Mountains.
Price ranges range from $300 a person to $1250 a person, depending entirely upon the type of trip and length of stay. We highly recommend Wallowas skiing to anyone who wants an unforgettable experience in the heart of winter.
10. Go Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is popular in the Wallowa Mountains. One of the best things about traveling by horseback is that you can focus on the scenery instead of following the trail. You can even ride a horse for the first time at Eagle Cap Pack station, which offers trusty horses and supervised riding for beginners.
This area may prove challenging for your horse. Green horses, in particular, are probably better left behind. It is a rocky trail, so be sure to have your horses well shod and a pair of easy boots on hand just in case.
Where is Wallowa Lake State Park Located?
Wallowa Lake is located in Northeastern Oregon just 14 miles from Joseph and seven miles from Enterprise, the county’s largest town. In the Nez Perce language, it means ‘winding water’, a perfect name for a ribbon lake that stretches over 3.5 miles.
Places to Stay at Wallowa Lake – Our Recommendations!
If you’re looking for a high-end hotel experience, you won’t have too many options since the Wallowas are in a very remote region. Yet adventurers can stay in a variety of hotels and motels. Airbnbs and camping basically dominate in this region.
Here are a few of our recommendations that might be helpful for you.
Wallowa Lake Resort:
This resort provides vacation rentals, homes, cozy cabins, rustic cabins, and duplexes at scenic Wallowa Lake, in Joseph, Oregon. They also have options that meet every budget from $99 per night for their studio cabins in the off-season to $520 per night for their lodges during peak season in the summer.
You can come to stay at this resort and let the memories roll in with your family and friends.
Additionally, you can book a Wallowa Lake lodging option that offers king-sized beds, wireless internet, streaming TV, free DVDs, and views of the lake, river, and mountains.
Eagle View’s Inn and Suites:
11 miles from Wallowa Lake State Park, this Enterprise, Oregon hotel offers an indoor pool and hot tub. Wireless Internet access is included in all rooms. Guests can enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast every morning.
Several suites have kitchenettes and mountain views. The air-conditioned rooms at this hotel feature cable TV, a desk, a dining area, a private bathroom, and free toiletries as well. In addition, Eagle’s View Inn & Suites provides a coffee maker in all rooms.
At Enterprise Eagle’s View Inn & Suites, guests can use the fitness center and sauna too.
A 72.4-km drive will take you to Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Also, a 169 km drive separates Eagle’s View Inn & Suites from Baker Heritage Museum.
Eagle Cap Chalets:
There is an 8-minute drive from the center of Joseph, Oregon, to the southern end of Wallowa Lake, where this resort is located. Within two miles of the resort are the Wallowa River and Mt. Howard. Guests can make use of the resort’s seasonal swimming pool and year-round hot tub. Wi-Fi is also available here for free. A mile from the resort is Wallowa Lake State Park.
Each of the accommodations at Eagle Cap Chalets has a satellite TV and a seating area. Toiletries are provided in the private bathrooms. Many accommodations come with complete kitchens along with BBQ facilities and kitchenware.
The hotel’s facilities include meeting rooms, a snack bar, as well as vending machines with drinks. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities on-site or in the surrounding area, such as playing mini-golf or hiking.
If you consider this resort, you won’t be far from Wallowa Lake Tramway, the Wallowa Lake Pack Station, and a number of other activities on Mount Bonneville, which is located on the resort side of the lake.
Upon entering the building you’ll feel as though you’re stepping back in time while being surrounded by the warm and welcoming wood exterior and knotty pine interior.
Whether traveling as a family or as a couple, this cabin provides plenty of space for an enjoyable getaway. Guests can relax in the living room with a free-standing gas fireplace, a charming skylight above the couch, and a small but mighty kitchen with everything they need to prepare meals and enjoy time together.
Flying Arrow Resort:
At Flying Arrow Resort, you will find clean, comfortable cabins right on the Wallowa River, surrounded by tall pines and green lawns. Cabins with sleeping capacities ranging from two to fourteen are available. You can walk to Wallowa Lake, the Eagle Cap Trailheads, or any lake activities within walking distance.
Let the sound of rushing water soothe you to sleep as you are right on the banks of the Wallowa River, where the east and west forks meet.
Located around Wallowa Lake are a variety of other cabins suitable for those who enjoy peace and quiet, or those who enjoy fun and activity. Whether you are a couple on honeymoon or a family vacationing together, we have the right cabin for you.
How Deep is Wallowa Lake?
The maximum depth of Wallowa Lake is around 95 meters. At a height of 4,372 feet, it is surrounded by high moraines, sculpted by Pleistocene glaciers.
Wallowa Lake Activities – FAQs
Summing It Up
The entire state of Oregon, if not the entire United States, is captivated by the beauty of Wallowa Lake State Park. Consider looking at some trail maps for the area to create your own custom backpacking trip; the trails we’ve listed are fantastic, but there are thousands of different combinations that you could create for a truly unique experience!