Wallowa Lake Tramway – Into the Alps!

July 2014 – If riding the old railroad tracks on the cool tandem pedal-driven railcars of the Joseph Branch Railriders weren’t thrilling enough, we soon found ourselves whisked away on the Wallowa Lake Tramway for a gondola ride to the top of Mount Howard just a few miles from the town of Joseph, Oregon.

Wallowa Lake Tramway Ride Joseph Oregon

Up we go — 4000′ feet to the top of Mount Howard!

Mt. Howard Joseph Oregon

We get swept away to a day of adventure in the mountains with new friends.

For a few weeks, our Arizona cycling and RVing friends Dick and Katie had been parked next to RVers Mike and Jea, the owners of this wonderful gondola, and they had become friends.

By the happy luck of being friends-of-friends, we were invited to take the gondola ride up to their mountaintop restaurant and enjoy lunch on the deck with them at the Summit Grill.

Little did we know it would be lunch with a breathtaking view of the gondolas gliding up and down against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and pretty Wallowa Lake in the distance.

Hiking at the top of the Wallowa Lake Tramway


Holy smokes, what a spot! Lunch was delicious, and the view was magnificent!

Snow-capped peaks at the Wallowa Lake Tram Ride in Joseph Oregon

The mountain peaks had snow and the valleys had flowers!

Wild snapdragons in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Oregon

Wild snapdragons were in bloom.

After lunch, Jea took us out on the hiking trails that circle and weave around the top of the mountain.

Everywhere we turned we saw alpine scenery that was right out of a picture book. The mountains were still decorated with snow and there were lots of wildflowers too.

Hiking amid snowy mountains at Wallowa Lake

Views, views and more views!

Wallowa Lake in Joseph Oregon 511

Wallowa Lake is THE place to go on a hot summer day.

The Wallowa Lake Tramway is at the far southern end of beautiful Wallowa Lake, and we visited the active town beach several times.

Kayaking at Wallowa Lake Oregon

There were lots of kayaks on the lake.

By the river at Wallowa Lake State Park Oregon

It’s a great place for photography!

On the weekends families played on the beach all day, bringing picnics, dabbling in the water and paddling around on kayaks.

I put a toe in the water but Mark ventured out waist deep and then dove in.

Enjoying the cold water at Wallowa Lake Oregon

Feet in the water, beer in hand, does it get any better?

He came running back to the beach shivering like crazy.

“How’s the water?” I asked.

“It’s like swimming in a cooler full of ice!”

Three kayaks at Wallowa Lake Oregon

What a backdrop for a swim or ride in a kayak!

Well, no wonder, since the water comes right from the snow melt on the surrounding mountains.

The air was toasty warm, though, and what better way to while away an afternoon in this kind of heat than to sit on beach chairs out in the water with an ice cold Oregon microbrew in hand?!

Driving the road that flanks the west side of the lake, we passed all kinds of mountain cabins and lakeside homes perched above the water.

This is steep mountain terrain and there were lots of staircases running up to the homes.


No Trespassing for deer at Wallowa Lake Oregon

Didn’t you read the sign?!

Out of the corner of his eye, Mark spotted a deer running up one of these staircases.

I leaned over him to get a shot of this little guy out the window.

Only later did I see that the deer had been standing next to a sign that said, “No Trespassing!”

Riverside in Joseph Oregon

Rushing water at the river.

Deer are really common around Joseph. They wander in and out of front yards and back yards, eating the flowers and looking very cute.

A deer and two fawns in Joseph Oregon

A little deer family shares dinner together.

As we drove back from the lake one afternoon we saw a doe with her two spotted fawns.

How sweet!

A doe and her two fauns in Joseph Oregon 481

Mama didn’t mind us but one of the babies was curious!

They didn’t seem to be bothered by us stopping to photograph them.

The mom and one baby looked up, but mom decided we were okay and went back to grazing.

It’s these kinds of heartwarming encounters that were the hallmarks of our wonderful stay in Joseph.

Clouds over our fifth wheel trailer

Clouds streak the sky with some of Mark’s photography magic.

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