Joseph is a city in Eastern Oregon at an elevation of 4,150 feet above sea level.



The area has an enriched history dating back to the days when Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce inhabited the land. After the gold rush occurred (ultimately populating the wallowas), the government took back most of its land from the tribe. Angered by this action, some of the Nez Perce retaliated by slaying some whites nearby. This turned into a long battle between the two forces. Chief Joseph and his followers eventually surrendered, but were never able to return to the Wallowa Valley. A tribute to Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce is present all throughout Wallowa Lake and its surroundings. It is still marked as one of the most influential struggles between native tribes and the injustice of the United States government.

Flora and fauna

The area outside of town around Wallowa Lake is surrounded by true beauty. Various animals inhabit the area, but the most amazing sight to see is the large amount of does and bucks the Wallowas has. Chipmunks surround the landscape, and are famous for their grabby little hands and big cheeks on top of Mount Howard. The mountain located next to the lake is great place for sight seeing and be able to feed the chipmunks.

The lake is also surrounded by many pines. One pine in particular was found in the surrounding Wallowa Mountains. Pinus contorta, 'Chief Joseph', is a dwarf pine that is very rare and is known for its drastic change from green in the summer to bright gold in the winter time.


There is a great variance in the weather. During the summer months of July and August the average temp is in thet mid 70s. Thunderstorms are very standard in the spring and summer. During the winter months, the temperature dips into the 30s on average. The best time to visit is in the summer time, this is when water sports are at their best and the Wallowa tram is up and running.

Get in

The easiest way to get to Joseph is along highway 82 east from La Grande, Oregon. Be prepared as this is a small two-lane highway with limited shoulder area and often has construction work in progress. It is about 72 miles from La Grande to Joseph so make sure you fuel up before leaving. There is also a local small airport with a 5,000 long runway about 1 mile west of Joseph.

Get around

In a quaint town like Joseph the primary means of transport is your own vehicle. Do not expect any form of public transportation here. Do not be surprised to see horses tied to a rail along the main streeet, the old west still lives on in Joseph.


Joseph itself is a mixed little town, part modern west farm town and part old west. The buildings are a mix of both, often within the same block. Due to its proximity to so many wilderness areas it serves as a local replenishment station. The Joseph city managers have seen fit to erect a small kiosk about the middle of Main Street to provide weary tourists with all the information they could ask for. The best way to learn about Joseph is to get out along Main Street and walk. It is through walking that you will discover all of the little curiosity shops tucked along Main Street and the characters they contain within.








Go next

Routes through Joseph

La Grande Enterprise  W  E  END

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