Wallowa Lake State Park is a fabulous RV camping destination for you to enjoy with majestic mountains, a beautiful lake, a full-service marina, and more than 200 campsites, including 121 full-hookup sites. Located six miles south of Joseph, Oregon, the 216-acre Wallowa Lake State Park is a wonderland of adventure that includes everything from boating and fishing to hiking and swimming. Don’t forget the sunscreen. The park was created by the state of Oregon from 1941 to 1954 in order to provide access to Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa River Inlet area. The park boasts a gorgeous landscape and is nestled at the base of the 10,000-foot Wallowa Mountains, as well as Chief Joseph Mountain.
Wallowa Lake State Park was originally home to the Nez Perce Tribe. The tribe had their first contact with French trappers in the late 1700s and would later have encounters with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Chief Joseph is the most well-known of the Nez Perce Tribe after a continued struggle with the federal government when in 1877 the tribe was chased and defeated by 2,000 U.S. Army soldiers. Today, Wallowa Lake State Park is the second most visited state park in eastern Oregon and boasts tremendous recreational and camping options.
Recreational opportunities are excellent at the state park. Once at Wallowa Lake State Park, there is swimming, fishing, hiking, and numerous other watersport options like standup paddleboarding, water skiing, as well as picnicking on a pontoon boat. During the winter months, you can experience fun activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as well as ice fishing.
The weather at Wallowa Lake State Park is fantastic in the summer months with temperatures in the high 70s and little or no rainfall. The winter months bring temperatures around the mid-40s, as well as an average snowfall per month of 10 inches from November through March. You'll create a lifetime of happy memories at Wallowa Lake State Park no matter what time of year your take your RV vacation.
In the northeastern corner of Oregon, getting to Wallowa Lake State is fairly simple along Oregon State Highway 351, also known as Power House Road. You can get there from I-90 from the north, I-15 from the east, and I-84 from the south or west. The state highway travels south along the contours of Wallowa Lake from Joseph, Oregon. The highway does have a few turns to navigate when first leaving Joseph if you are driving a larger RV or pulling a trailer.
Once you are driving along the lake, you will be spoiled with tremendous views of the natural landscape, including the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. But you may also encounter bicyclists that hold up traffic at times. When you arrive at the state park, you will need to be cautious when entering. There will be plenty of traffic congestion during the prime season due to a large number of day-users. Many of these day-users will be pulling a boat to the full-service marina.
After you enter the four-loop campground area, you will need to navigate several one and two-way roads through the campground. Driving the loops can be tricky with tight turns and narrow roadways. You should adhere to all speed limits within the park, especially in the campground area where you will encounter pedestrians, bicyclists, and children playing around their campsites in the roadway.
If your family or group is large and you have some tents with you, Wallowa Lake State Park has three group campsites to offer, right next to the water. If your rig is under 30 feet, you can have it with you, no need to leave it in the lot. Each of these campsites can accommodate you and up to 29 guests with up to six vehicles including the one rig under 30 feet. These sites are partially shaded and very close to the river, which can be dangerous during heavy rain.
Each site has several picnic tables, fire pits, and enough room to pitch up to 12 tents and still have space to play a game of frisbee or volleyball. Fido can join you here as long as you keep him on a leash at all times and pick up after him. Be sure to set your reservation as early as possible because they are popular, especially on weekends and holidays.
If you have never camped in a yurt, this would be a great place to try it. They have two yurts that are both ADA-accessible and one is even pet-friendly so Fido can enjoy the glamping too. The yurts here are more like cabins in the fact that they are made of wood, have a wood floor and deck, and a door. Inside, they have electric AC, heat, and has a futon, bunk beds, and a double bed with room to sleep five all together. Bring your own bedding though. You can park your rig right there in the yurt driveway if it is under 41 feet long, so you won’t have to leave it in the lot.
These yurts also have windows so you can open it up and let the fresh country air in. Right next to the river, you can walk out the door and walk just a few feet to toss in a pole or take a dip in the water. The park even provides a barbecue pit, campfire grill, and a picnic table out front. No cooking is allowed indoors so you will be cooking outside or in the RV anyway. Since there are only two of these, make sure you book yours early. Reservations can be made up to nine months in advance.
At the southern tip of Wallowa Lake, the Family Campground is separated into four loops, but they are all in one campground. With 121 RV campsites that boast water, sewer, and 30- to 50-amp electric hookups, you are sure to find the perfect spot for your visit. Length limits range from 25 to 86 feet, so make sure you check the length limits of the site when you make your reservations. Each site also has a picnic table and fire ring with a grill to cook on. In the middle of each loop, you can find a comfort station with hot showers and modern restrooms with running water. There are a few extra comfort stations around the campground as well.
The kids will enjoy the playground and horseshoe pits at the southern end of the camp, and the Wallowa River is also close enough to walk to when you want to swim, fish, or float. Of course, the lake is just to the north of the campground where you will find the marina, boat launch, and a bridge to the swimming area. Pets are welcome at the camp and there is an off-leash area where Rover can run free with the other pups near the marina. They also have 88 tent sites in the campground. Reservations can be made from one day to nine months in advance.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are a must-do activity during the winter months. The snow is perfect for slapping on your snowshoes and heading into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Cross-country skiing is ideal along the nature trail near the campground, where you can skate on your skis in the powdery snow. Ice fishing is also popular at the park with superb conditions to catch Mackinaw trout. Don’t worry if you forget your shelter because you can rent one at the marina during the winter months.
Wallowa Lake State Park is the perfect place to use your binoculars and view hundreds of birds no matter what season you visit the park. With patience, you will have plenty of opportunities to view year-round birds like mountain bluebirds, golden-crowned kinglets, belted kingfishers, horned grebes, as well as several species of woodpeckers like the black-backed, three-toed, and the downy. Other spectacular bird species that live in the area year-round are pine siskin, red crossbill, and even the great blue heron. There are a plethora of owls such as the western screech, northern pygmy, as well as the great horned.
Bicycling is a fantastic idea while you are RV camping at Wallowa Lake State Park. Cyclists enjoy the ride along the lakeshore on Oregon State Highway 351 where there is sufficient room on the road for cyclists that don’t like to ride in a lot of traffic. A leisurely bike ride within the campground is also a favorite with over two miles of roadway to explore within the four loops. All bicyclists 16 years of age or younger are required to wear a helmet in the state of Oregon, so come prepared if you are bringing children with you.
The full-service marina offers a plethora of rentals for watersports on Wallowa Lake. For a tranquil afternoon try kayaking or standup paddleboarding. For a fun-filled day on the water with friends, you can rent a pontoon boat that accommodates larger groups that want to have fun on the lake. There is also a swimming beach available that is roped for safety from boats and other watercraft entering the area. No matter how you want to make a splash, all you have to do is park the camper at Wallowa Lake.
Fishing is the most popular thing to do in Wallowa Lake State Park. You have the opportunity to catch stellar big fish that live in the lake when you bring your rig here. Chances are good that you can catch a decent-sized trout from the shoreline. In addition, the lake is stocked yearly with over 20,000 trout. Kokanee salmon and Mackinaw trout are plentiful in the lake from the end of May through the middle of June. These giant fish are best caught trolling from a boat. Don’t worry, the full-service marina has boats for rent as well as all the fishing tips you need to find out.
Wallowa Lake State Park offers numerous trailheads that will take you hiking into the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. The six-mile Aneriod Lake Trail boasts incredible views of an alpine lake that resides in the Eagle Cap Wilderness area, although expect a steep climb with lots of switchbacks. The Chief Joseph Trail takes you to the Big Creek waterfall, which is spectacular to see in the spring during the runoff season. If you continue on the trail, you can reach the summit of Chief Joseph Mountain, which rises into the sky at over 10,000 feet.