An Ultimate Guide to the Wallowa Mountains
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The Wallowa Mountains in Oregon offer tons to see and do. They’ve also been listed as one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders along with Smith Rock, Crater Lake, Painted Hills, Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, and the Oregon Coast. And yet, unlike many of Oregon’s other natural highlights, they remain largely undiscovered. Keep on reading for our guide on what to do while visiting!
Where are the Wallowa Mountains?
This mountain range is located in northeastern Oregon in the Columbia Plateau and Eagle Cap Wilderness. The area is a wonderland of alpine lakes, soaring granite peaks, and less-known hiking trails. In fact, at 360,000 acres, it's the largest wilderness area in Oregon. The Wallowa Mountains are about a five and a half hour drive from Portland, but it's well worth the trek to see their beauty!
Things to Do in the Wallowa Mountains
With hiking, camping, distilleries, breweries, art galleries, rafting, fly fishing, and even ghost towns, you’ll be busy during your Wallowa Mountain trip. The must-see thing you should do is take the tram to the top of Mt. Howard. From 4,000 feet in elevation at the top of the mountain you’ll be able to see the rugged peaks in the Eagle Cap Wilderness area, explore the summit, and grab some food at the Summit Grill. Be sure to book your tram ticket early to ensure you’ve got your spot! You can also hike or even take a horseback ride to the top of this mountain if you’d like.
Hike to a lake, a mountain summit, or through the forest here. You can see below for some of the top-rated trails in the area to add to your Wallowas Mountain hiking list!
Aneroid Lake Via East Fork
Chief Joseph Mountain
Chimney Lake via Bowman Trail
Wallowa Tramway Summit
Iwetemlaykin Heritage Trail
Before you hit the trails, be sure to read our Leave No Trace Principles Every Hiker Should Know hiking guide.
Hells Canyon and Snake River
North America’s deepest river gorge is a sight to see. The canyon was carved by the Snake River and there are lots of hikes and recreation sites for you to explore. Bike, camp, fish, hunt, offroad, picnic, or play in the water or snow on your adventure.
Wallowa Mountains camping is a great way to get close to nature on your trip. There are lots of campgrounds in the area for you to check out, just be sure to reserve your spot early to make sure you’ve got it!
Grab a drink at one of the local distilleries or breweries, or a burger at one of the delicious restaurants here. When done, stroll along the streets and check out the shops, boutiques, or even the art galleries as you explore. It’s a great way to end the day!
Last but not least, there are some cool ghost towns in the area. Abandoned after the gold rush, the towns of Cornucopia, Bourne, and Homestead still have structures to see. Check out how people used to live in this rugged terrain!
Have fun on your Wallowa Mountains trip! It’s a wonderful place to see, and we know you’ll enjoy seeing this Oregon gem. If you want us to plan your own personalized itinerary to the Wallowas, or to any of the other seven wonders of Oregon, check out our Oregon trips.