The Wallowa Mountains in Eastern Oregon are often referred to as America’s Little Switzerland. And after visiting this tiny oasis this past summer, I can see why. I seriously felt like I was in that famous scene in the Sound of Music where Maria is running around singing “the hills are alive!!” I may or may not have sung those lyrics a few times while I was running around taking photos.
I initially wanted to visit the Wallowas because it was the last wonder to check off on my Seven Wonders of Oregon list. I didn’t think there was much to do in the area there except some hiking and camping. I was extremely surprised to find out that there was so much more to do, especially in the neighboring towns of Baker City and Joseph. I instantly fell in love with those adorable towns.
And while there are definitely some famous hikes in the Wallowas, such as Ice Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness and Aneroid Lake, they are all more suited for backpacking rather than day hiking because of their long distances. So if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the area or if you just prefer to day hike and explore the neighboring towns, here are a few things you can do during a weekend in the Wallowas.
1. If you’re coming from Bend, visit the Covered Wagon located right off Highway 26, 5 miles east of Prairie City and pretend you are on the Oregon Trail.
2. Stop in Baker City and have a beer or two at Barley Brown’s. This brewery has won countless awards, including multiple gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival. And from sampling their beers, I can see why. (just a cool looking bike rack that I found in Baker City) 3. Take a walk down the city of Joseph’s Main Street. Have breakfast at Old Town Cafe or Red Horse Coffee Traders and browse around some of the artisanal shops. 4. Walk the Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site and pretend you are in the Sound of Music. 5. Take a break from exploring and visit Terminal Gravity Brewing. With its outdoor seating and live music, it makes for a great place to spend the afternoon. 6. Hike the West Fork Wallowa-Chief Joseph Mountain Trail.7. Paddleboard or kayak on Wallowa Lake. Rental are available at the Wallowa Lake Marina, located on the south side of the lake.
8. Take photos near the northern Wallowa Lake Boat Ramp.9. Pretend you’re a blue banana at the Blue Banana coffee shop.