An Alpine-themed village adds even more allure to one of Oregon’s seven wonders
Nestled in one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon, Wallowa Lake’s magnitude is felt in its natural beauty, rich history as a sacred Native American homeland and present-day site for recreation and adventure. Carved by glaciers eons ago, the glassy, five-mile-long sliver of water is cradled by steep, grassy moraines. In the mountains beyond, jagged peaks—largely made of basalt and granite—rise out of thick forest as the largest concentration of 9,000-foot peaks in the state. Trails are carved through the rugged terrain of the pristine Eagle Cap Wilderness, where hikers seek glacial lakes and high peaks and trail riders roam on horseback.
At the Head of the Lake
A walkable, Alpine-themed village is complete with lodging, eateries, gift shops, mini-golf courses, dining, a horseback outfitter, bumper boats and go-carts. The Bavarian influence culminates annually in September with Alpenfest. Make a reservation at Vali’s, a second-generation establishment serving Hungarian dishes.
Ascend, gondola style, on the Wallowa Lake Tramway—the steepest gondola in the country (cabin cars glide nearly 4,000 vertical feet up the flank of Mt. Howard). Explore two-and-a-half miles of easy trails from the 8,150-foot summit, where you can see all the way to Idaho’s Seven Devils on a clear day. Take a breather at Summit Grill.
A group of local investors bought the historic Wallowa Lake Lodge—a nostalgia-inducing building located at the head of the lake on eight treed acres adjacent to Wallowa Lake State Park. Investors worked with the Nez Perce Tribe, which now holds a conservation easement, to leave the site as visitors have enjoyed it for decades. The large, rustic lodge, fine dining restaurant and cabins are located within walking distance to attractions in the family-friendly village.
After your eyes get used to the jaw-dropping scenery all around you at the top of the Wallowa Lake Tramway, sit back and relax with a local beer and some food at the Summit Grill. Remind yourself that this is real life.