Ah, Joseph! June 11 and 12, 20013

Picturesque Lake Wallowa, Joseph, Oregon.

Old Chief Joseph's Gravesite at the base of Lake Wallowa.  Joseph is Nez Perce Indian land.  They once occupied large areas of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon lands.  In the Wallowas, they followed fish, game and wild plants with the changing seasons – from the depths of the Snake River canyons and tributaries in winter to the high mountains and headwaters in summer.

The Nez Perce befriended Lewis and Clark and other explorers and early settlers, who described them as peaceful, intelligent and handsome people.  Unfortunately for them, white Americans wanted this land.  There’s a lot more to this story, all of it sad – an oft repeated tale in America – and if you really want to read about it, you’ll find plenty of info on the net or in a library.  Jimmy and I have followed parts of the Nez Perce 1877 “Trail of Tears” forced flight on past trips, and will do so again this trip.  We can’t help feeling heaviness in our hearts whenever we’re on their sacred territory….

This "Garden Walk" was my favorite bronze.

Nowadays, Joseph in early summer is a flower-filled artsy-fartsy community, with fabulous bronze statues on almost every street corner... and those stirring mountain views always in sight.  Cute shops and restaurants line the main street.  The streets are 100 ft wide, originally built to accommodate a four-horse team turnaround (works well for motor homes, too!).  When we left the campground Tues morning, the temp was still cool, but I figured the day would warm.  Nope, mountains make their own weather, and their clouds spilled over into the valley.  Not only didn’t it get warmer, it felt cooler.  A few drops fell.  We ambled thru town, stopping here and there, eating lunch at The Outlaw.

 Hey!  Whatz your name?

We weren’t dressed warm enough to walk around nearby Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, so we returned to Tergel, added layers, and set off to hike the adjacent Chief Joseph Trail along the tumultuous West Fork of the Wallowa River to BC Creek Falls.  Then the sun came out!

Bridge on the trail over the churning Wallowa River.

This was called turtle rock.  We thought it looked like a cartoon face, or a lizard face.

 What a place to be!  We could LIVE here!

Jimmy back on the bridge, returning to the trailhead.

We chose to drive off the beaten path to come to this area.  Joseph is a "dead end," or as we like to think of it, "the end of the trail.”  From here we have to backtrack and will prob exit Oregon via Hwy 129 to Fields Spring State Park just over the Washington border.

We like staying “in the boonies,” but internet/phone reception is usually lousy in outlying areas, so I’m stopping at the library to post on the blog and check email.  Such is the price we pay!  It's worth it.  So glad we bumped into (haha) the Wallowa Valley.


  1. You said "We could LIVE here!". That's just what we said. We even looked at a piece of real estate there, all set up for an RV (no building on it, just E/W/S. Nice mountain view, too. We weren't ready to commit, though. Definitely one of those places that get you thinking! Did you check out 5 Peaks RV park while you were there? I could spend several months THERE - two blocks to downtown and good WiFi. Next time, I guess we'll be staying in a B&B.

    1. Yup we did check out 5 Peaks, but preferred the state park. B&B's are nice, too!

      We're soo glad we went out of the way to spend time in this beautiful area.

  2. Gorgeous place, but sad too. There were too many 'Trails of Tears'.

  3. We love eastern Oregon


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