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Complete Guide to Visiting Wallowa Lake in Oregon

Wallowa Lake in Oregon is a stunningly beautiful lake in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful getaway, an outdoor adventure, or simply a place to relax and take in the breathtaking views, Wallowa Lake is the perfect place to visit. The lake is surrounded by scenic viewpoints, hiking trails, and even intense mountaineering experiences (if that's what you're looking for!).

Complete Guide to Visiting Wallowa Lake in Oregon


Location and Getting There

Wallowa Lake is located in the heart of Wallowa County, Oregon. It is surrounded by the beautiful Wallowa Mountains and sits at an elevation of 4,400 feet. The lake is about 3 miles long and 1 mile wide, making it one of the largest natural lakes in Oregon.


Getting to Wallowa Lake is easy, as it is located off of Highway 82 and near Highway 84, both of which can be reached from major cities in the area. Wallowa Lake State Park is a great starting point for anyone looking to explore the area and all its wonders. Here, visitors can find a variety of activities like camping, boating, fishing, hiking, and even skiing.


For those wanting to experience the beauty of Wallowa Lake without the hassle of camping, there are several cabins and lodges in the area that offer visitors a comfortable place to stay while enjoying all that the lake has to offer. There are also plenty of restaurants, shops, and other activities available in the nearby towns of Enterprise and Joseph.

Wallowa Lake Sunset
Wallowa Lake at sunset


Weather

Wallowa Lake is situated in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of northeastern Oregon, and is known for its mild climate. Located at an elevation of 4,336 feet, the area experiences warm, dry summers and cold winters like most of the PNW. Average summer temperatures range from 40-80°F while winter temperatures range from 20-45°F. Depending on what kind of activities you're looking for, you're going to want to choose your season wisely.


The area receives an average of 16-20 inches of snow per year, making it a great place for skiing and other winter activities. The area also receives an average of 10 inches of rain throughout the year. Make sure to keep the latter in mind when you're planning an off-season visit. While it may be less busy, you might also have to contend with days of rain.

Wallowa Lake from Above
A view of Wallowa Lake from above after riding the tram

What to Expect

When visiting Wallowa Lake in Oregon, you should expect breathtaking views, fresh mountain air, and plenty of activities. Plus, don't forget the crowds! Located in the northeastern corner of the state, Wallowa Lake is known for its incredible natural beauty. The lake is surrounded by the Wallowa Mountains, which are part of the Blue Mountains. The landscape here is made up of meadows, rivers, lakes, and forests.



You can go fishing, swimming, kayaking, and canoeing in the lake or head to one of the nearby ski resorts for some winter sports like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.


For those looking for more luxurious accommodations, there are plenty of Wallowa Lake cabins available for rent. From rustic log cabins to modernized chalets, you’ll find something to suit your needs. Other facilities in the area include restaurants, stores, and museums.


The Wallowa Lake State Park also offers plenty of attractions such as boat tours and nature trails.

Wallowa Lake
The vast expanse of Wallowa Lake

Activities

Wallowa Lake, located in Eastern Oregon, is known for its many recreational activities. From camping and skiing to hiking and boating, there is something for everyone.

  • Camping: There are numerous camping areas around Wallowa Lake, including Wallowa Lake State Park which offers RV sites as well as tent sites.

  • Hiking: There are a variety of hiking trails available, including the Eagle Cap Wilderness Trail System and the Summit Trail, both of which offer stunning views of the lake.

  • Boating: With over 50 miles of shoreline, Wallowa Lake offers plenty of opportunities for boating. Rentals are available for motorboats, jet skis, and kayaks.

  • Fishing: Fishing enthusiasts will find plenty of trout, bass, and kokanee in the lake's cold waters.

  • Skiing: The Wallowa Mountains offer skiers and snowboarders excellent opportunities for downhill skiing and snowboarding in the winter months.

  • Cabins: There are numerous cabins available for rent along the lake's shores (including yurts!), perfect for those looking for a quiet getaway.


Camping At Wallowa Lake

Wallowa Lake is very easily accessible, meaning that camping on the lake's shores is fairly common, particularly in summer. Wallowa Lake State Park is home to the largest collection of campsites at the lake which is described below. If you're thinking about visiting the lake and camping, we highly recommend making a reservation. These campgrounds are extraordinarily busy throughout the summer.

The wallowas
The Wallowa Mountain Range

Wallowa Lake State Park Campground

Located on the south shore of the lake, the state park is home to campsites, various basic amenities, and a cable car. You can also start several different hikes from this spot. The day-use area is open year-round.


The campground is also open year-round, offering 121 full hookup sites for RVs and:

  • 88 tent sites

  • Yurts

  • Group sites

  • Picnic areas

  • camping for hikers

  • Dump stations

  • Firewood for sale

Unlike many other campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest, some of the sites are reservable in the winter as well. But, you won't have running water, and services to the state park are more limited. (Most of the sites are first come first serve from October to May.)


Scenic Meadows RV Park

This is a nearby RV camping area near Wallowa Lake. It's just south of the state park and offers 16 RV spots and only 2 tent sites. The amenities include:

  • TV

  • Laundry

  • Electricity

  • Water

  • Phones

  • Firewood for sale

For more information on this campground, call: 541-432-9285.


Park at the River

The Park at the River is another Wallowa Lake RV Camping area. It's only a few minutes from the lake (and conveniently located near the other campgrounds). The sites start at $30 a night for a basic campground and $48 for a campground with a full hookup. There are:

  • 49 full hookup sites

  • Cabins for rent

  • Showers

  • Laundry

  • Clubhouse



Best Wallowa Lake Trails

Here are a few of Traverse the PNW's recommendations of trails near Wallowa Lake for multiple skill levels.


East Fork to Glacier Lake to West Fork Loop

This is certainly the most popular trail in the park due to its convenient location. If you want to complete the whole thing, you're going to really need to strap on your best shoes as it goes for a length of 31.5 miles.


It heads south from the lake, taking you around Bonneville Mountian, past Aneroid Lake and Frazier Lake, and finally back around again as you pass Glacier Lake, cross Moccasin Lake, Lee Lake, and Horseshoe Lake. The trail gains an impressive 7,000 feet of elevation and offers a few campsites along the way. Most people choose to hike it in around 3 days.


Francis Lake Trail

If Wallowa Lake isn't enough lake for you, you can embark on the long Francis Lake Trail which stretches 15 miles round trip into the state park. The trail should take around 9 hours to complete in full.


Cliff Creek Trail #1885

This less-commonly hiked trail is a great way to get away from the crowds around the lake. It's very long (you don't have to do all of it!) stretching to 22 miles, but it will provide you with a wonderful tour of the area.



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