Wallowa Lake State Park Things to Do
At the end of the road, which is the Wallowa Lake Highway, there is a trail head that takes you into the Wallowa mountains. There is one short trail (if I remember right, it is called the 'Chief Joseph' trail) which takes about a half hour to walk along. You get stunning views of the lake and the valley beyond.
For a full day of hiking, try the trail to Aneroid Lake (approximately 14 miles round trip) or Ice Lake (approximately 16 miles round trip). The Ice Lake trail involves a climb with something like 25 switchbacks but is not really difficult to walk. I was there in July one year and there was still snow along the trail, although the lake was completely thawed. I believe July is really the only time you can walk up there without too much snow.
There are several stables in the town that offer trail rides and some go to Ice Lake and Aneroid Lake. These are full day trips.
Wallowa Lake State Park Restaurants
Vali's Alpine Deli: A real treasure...
Vali's is worth the visit to Wallowa Lake alone. You can get gorgeous scenery anywhere but there is only one Vali's!
I love this place, Maggie and Mike have been serving Hungarian and American food here for nearly 30 years. The restaurant only has 2 seatings each evening (closed Mondays) and when they say you need a reservation, you can bet you will. Any time of the year, this place can be booked full - sometimes a week in advance.
There is no choice in the menu, except for drinks. Your only choice is what night you go. When I was last there, Sunday night was steak night and Tuesday was paprika chicken night. It sounds like a recipe for disaster but with Maggie's bubbly personality, you can't help but enjoy yourself!
One of my favourite memories of eating here was one year on my birthday. My grandparents, mother and sister all came up for a visit and we walked up to book the restaurant. When we came back out, my granny said she wanted to confirm the booking. I thought she was just being over cautious, but she actually went back to tell Maggie that it was my birthday. I knew absolutely nothing about this until just after dinner. Everyone in the restaurant got their dessert except me. Maggie brought out my dessert with a lit candle in it and said 'Hit it, guys!' and the entire restaurant turned around and sang happy birthday to me! It was embarrassing but very funny.
Favorite Dish: The last time I was there, we had the chicken paprika. The starter is a cucumber salad with a sweet vinaigrette. I can't for the life of me remember what the dessert was but I am sure it was homemade and delicious!
Another reason to go to Vali's is for doughnuts in the mornings. You have to be quick, though - they only make so many and when they are gone, they are gone! When we were last there, we missed out on the doughnuts in the morning and told Maggie about how disappointed we were. She went to the kitchen and produced a bag of what had been leftover from that morning and gave them to us free of charge.
This is one of the few restaurants on my pages that gets a full 5 star rating for food, ambience and service.Related to:
- Family Travel
Wallowa Lake State Park Shopping
The Matterhorn Swiss Village: A bit of Switzerland in Oregon
This is the shop I used to work in all those years ago. I don't know if the Ehrler family still own it but they are the ones who started it. Joe Ehrler is from Switzerland and his wife, Rita, is Polish/Canadian which explains the flags flying on the deck of the shop (I used to put those flags out every morning!).
They sell a wide variety of gifts, both local and imported. They also rent small cabins on the property and used to rent bikes. I see there is a new coffee shop since I was last there, too.Related to:
- Family Travel
Wallowa Lake State Park Warnings and Dangers
The deer are not tame!
There are a lot of wild deer that roam the park area and know they can scrounge food off the visitors. They will eat out of your hand but that does not mean they are tame. Do not try to pet them! The ones with antlers are especially dangerous as they can cause quite a bit of pain if they butt you with them.
Many people feed the deer junk food and that is what they prefer, however this does not do them any good. It is best just to photograph them and appreciate that you can get so close to such beautiful wild animals.Related to:
- Family Travel