Friday, September 17, 2010

Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area, Oregon

We took a couple drives to Hell’s Canyon while visiting Wallowa Lake State Park. The more popular drive to the Hell’s Canyon Overlook was actually not all that great, so we recommend the drive to Hat Point instead. To get to Hat Point, from Joseph, take Route 350 to Imnaha (if you’re low on fuel, get it in Joseph, as there are no gas stations in Imnaha), about 35 miles and a pretty country drive. Once in Imnaha, you’ll take Forest Service Road 4240 which is gravel, although very well maintained and neither a 4-wheel drive nor high-clearance vehicle is needed. (Our theory is that most people head to the overlook since it’s all paved to get there, but trust us – Hat Point is much more interesting.) The first seven miles of the forest service road is steep, but really not all that bad. The views are beautiful.

There is one lookout along the way, Granny Point

with some lovely wildflowers

and restrooms as well (although Brad chose another avenue………………) :-)

Continuing on the Forest Service Road, you’ll quickly approach Hat Point with the majestic views of Hell’s Canyon and the Snake River.

We were surprised how built-up this area was, with picnic tables overlooking Hell's Canyon, walking paths, and restrooms

A really cool and unexpected aspect was the “personned” (not “manned” although it was a man working there at the time) fire watchtower

that was open to the public if so inclined. Yup, we were inclined:

The views from the top were pretty vast, but what was cool was that we realized that all the rocks we stepped over as we walked to the tower were actually words, initials, or little sayings that people organized:

The view from beneath the fire watchtower was pretty cool too:

In summary, we’d highly recommend this car trip – it does take a couple hours to get to Hat Point from Joseph, so pack a lunch and plan a lovely day trip. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Joseph, Oregon

The town of Joseph is just a few miles from Wallowa Lake State Park ~ in fact, it’s the last town you’ll go through on your way to Wallowa Lake. Joseph (named after Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce) is quaint, with lots of shops and restaurants. One very interesting aspect of Joseph is the large bronze sculptures throughout the town ~ here are two examples:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A short hike near Wallowa Lake State Park, Oregon

We enjoyed a nice little hike one day, about one-mile in each direction, to Upper B.C. Creek Falls along the Chief Joseph Trail. To begin, drive to the end of the main road which dead-ends at the R.P.L. Power plant. The trailhead is on the left, and after registering, you’ll follow the signs along Chief Joseph trail. There is a bit of an incline in the beginning, but soon enough you’ll pass over a bridge,

up a few switchbacks, past some rock slides,

past a viewpoint of Wallowa Lake,

to the “end” of the trail – the waterfall. (There was once a bridge across the falls, but it’s no longer in existence, so this is as far as you can go on this hike.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wallowa Lake State Park, Oregon

We spent a few days at Wallowa Lake State Park in eastern Oregon last week, and were really impressed with the campground. Wallowa Lake State Park has 210 sites, of which 121 are full hook-ups, which is nice since that is sometimes rare in state parks. Obvious by the name, the campground is on a very nice lake where there is a marina – if you do not bring your own boat, you can rent one at reasonable rates.

The lake is also stocked, so fishing is also an option and the park offered a very nice fish cleaning station:

In fact, while we were here, we saw salmon spawning!

There are a few restaurants around the lake (which we didn’t try), nightly programs by the state park rangers, and lots of family activities (i.e. bumper boats, arcade, etc…) There were also many deer in the campground - in fact, we saw a couple bucks rutting, but, of course, did not have the camera with us.................

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