The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is one of the main attractions in northeastern Oregon and it is very easy to plan a great escape vacation in this region. The terrain varies greatly from rolling hills and meadows to river canyons and deep woods, so this is a great place to shift into a traditional camping mode. Picking a spot in the woods to setup a basecamp for a full week of rest and relaxation is easy to do. The National Forest offers both developed and dispersed camping, while the Oregon State Parks system offers plenty of basecamp options too. All it takes is one look at the Minam State Recreation Area to fall in love with the idea of taking it easy for an entire week, instead of battling it out in the National Parks where the big crowds go!
The Minam State Recreation Area is located on Oregon State Road 82 between Elgin and Wallowa. There really is not much more than the wide open spaces between these two towns, so stocking up prior to arrival is best to do. The entrance to this Oregon State Park is next to the Wallowa River, so it is easy to spot. The boat launch, trailer parking and facilities can be found next to the bridge by the Recreation Area entrance, which is a nice convenience for boaters that have traveled a long way.
When following the dirt road that parallels the Wallowa River, the day use and picnic areas can be found near the entranceway. There are stone fire pits in the small grassy fields next to the river, so this is good spot for weekend warrior river rafters and fly fishermen that are just out for the day. By following the river road a few miles further, a visitor will find the Minam State Park Campground, which is a cozy spot to be.
The Minam State Park Campground offers over 20 campsites next to the Wallowa River with plenty of tall shade trees, so this is an ideal place for a fly fishing basecamp! This campground has running water, facilities, fire rings, firewood and vehicle slips. The campground clearing is grassy green, so deer can be seen here feeding in the evenings. This campground is as peaceful as can be and the fees are cheap. The campground is managed by a local host, so checking in upon arrival is the best way to become familiar with the benefits of this cozy little spot.
Besides watching baby deer play around at sunset, one of the other intangible benefits actually is free food. Wild heirloom apple trees can be found in the woods along the river and this is part of the reason why so much wildlife can be seen in this area. Wild apples are indeed edible and many of the apple varieties found in these woods are descendent of Oregon Trail pioneer seed. A visitor just might find a delicious long lost apple varietal and the only competition is the deer and squirrels!
I just did an overnighter campout in Minam State Park while traveling during the autumn season, but that was enough to become familiar with this place. There was a large group of fly fishermen that setup a tent basecamp for a long excursion and they all were out in the water by sunrise. Getting the line in the water early in the morning is easy to to at Minam State Park, because this campground literally overlooks the river. The Wallowa River Canyon is as picturesque as can be and the free apples definitely places this little Oregon State Recreation Area at the top of the charts!
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