Western lake destinations definitely are the place to be during the long hot summer season. The cool water offers relief and fishing puts food on the table, while lazing at a campsite in the shade is what peaceful dreams are made of. The big lakes of the west are a summertime tradition and one of the oldest on the list is Wallowa Lake, which has been a primary summer vacation destination since the late 1800s. Wallowa Lake is a lengthy glacial lake that is almost a mile high in the mountains, so cool relief from the heat is guaranteed to be found here!
The geology of Wallowa Lake is a fascinating topic that many hours can be spent pondering over. The La Grande region of Oregon is mountainous and numerous ancient Pleistocene glaciers literally carved valleys around the peaks. The glaciers also created geological features called moraines, which are natural dams. A series of glacial moraines formed what is now Wallowa Lake and upon first glance at this landscape, it is easy to see that the mountains were carved by powerful ice flows in prehistoric times. The Wallowa River feeds Wallowa Lake and this indeed is a large natural body of water, which has become a rarity after the advent of western man made reservoir dams.
The access road to Wallowa State Park first goes past the Wallowa County Park at the opposite end of the lake and this local spot is well worth checking out. The county park offers facilities and a picnic area with beautiful views, along with a boat ramp and a swimming beach. The views of the glacier carved mountain valley that the body of water rests upon are easy to see and the scenery becomes even more picturesque on the way to the State Park at the other end of the lake. Near Wallowa State Park the barren slopes become heavily forested and the tall pines create a peaceful atmosphere. This is a place that the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce call home and it is easy to see that this lush end of the lake is capable of sustaining a large population.
Wallowa State Park is situated in what can be described as the most visually appealing end of the lake, so for those seeking a great lakeside spot for a summer vacation, this spot should be chalked high on the list. The State Park beach is lengthy and the Wallowa River flows at one end, which is a beautiful sight to see. The deep pine forest provides plenty of shade in the developed campground, which is complete with group areas and glamping yurts. The campground facilities include showers, RV hookups and a children's playground, along with a boat launch located nearby. This is a popular lake for house boating and rentals can be found nearby in the town of Joseph, which is also where long term lakeside cabin rentals are located.
As can be imagined, there is a little something for all outdoor lifestyles at Wallowa State Park and this is one of the coziest lakeside campgrounds in the entire west. Wallowa Lake was once a premium vacation spot for prospectors during the western gold rush era long ago and it truly is still a golden place to be in modern times. Overcrowding is not much of a problem in this region, with the exception being holiday weekends. The campsites can be booked ahead of time at the Oregon State Parks website, which will guarantee a chance to enjoy some fun in the summer sun. Wallowa State Park is well worth remembering when the heat of summer rolls around, so be sure to keep this beautiful spot in mind when making vacation plans!
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