Sunday, September 24, 2017

Oregon's Alpinefest in the Mountains

Experience the fun of Swiss-Bavarian Alpine culture against the breathtaking backdrop of northeast Oregon's Wallowa Mountains, a.k.a. Little Switzerland, Sept 27 to Oct 1, with four days of accordions, polkas, lederhosen, alpenhorns, bratwurst, bier trinken, and of course, yodeling at Oregon's Alpenfest 2017.

Heidi the Movie

Not feeling Bavarian yet? Get in the Alpenfest mood at the OK Theater in Enterprise, OR, Wednesday, Sept 27, with the new version of "Heidi." Doors open 5:30 p.m., film at 6. $5 adults and teens, $1 kids unless dressed in costume, then free admission.

Oregon Alpenfest Schedule

Opening Ceremony in Enterprise

Don the dirndles and lederhosen on Thursday for the procession and opening ceremony of Oregon Alpenfest downtown Enterprise at 4 pm. Then head to Terminal Gravity for the official tapping of the first keg of Alpenfest Beer, with more accordians and yodeling, which becomes increasingly more fun as greater quantities of beer are consumed.

Art, Music and Dance at Edewlweiss Inn

Alpen festivities move to the Edelweiss Inn at Wallowa Lake on Friday, where the Alpine Art Fair, polka lessons, Tirolean dancers, music, and of course, more yodeling start at noon.

Frühstück und Schwingen

An Alpine breakfast is available at the Alpine Inn at Wallowa Lake, Saturday morning, starting at 8 a.m. Don't miss the demonstration of Swiss folk wrestling (Schwingen) at 11:30 a.m.

 The Main Event

The Alpenshow at Edelweiss Inn runs from 1 to 11 pm with much beer drinking, dancing, yodeling, and free waltz lessons at 5 p.m.

Accordions all Day 

Meanwhile, the sound of accordions will fill the air in downtown Joseph through the day between 10 am and 2 pm at the Wallowa County Farmers Market and Joseph Visitor Center.

 Military, Law Enforcement & Firefighters Free Day

The Sunday line-up at Edelweiss Inn is more of the same with free admission on Patriot's Day for military service members and veterans, law enforcement officers, and firefighters.

Contact Oregon's Alpenfest at or 541-398-1096

Film: Massacre at Hell's Canyon

The film “Massacre At Hells Canyon”, will be shown Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m at The
Josephy Center. Suggested donation is $5.

The documentary recounts the brutal murder of Chinese miners along the Snake River, about 40 miles east of Joseph, OR, as the crow flies.

In 1886, more than thirty Chinese gold miners, operating under the auspices of the Sam Yup Company of San Francisco, acquired grubstakes at Lewiston, Idaho, and headed up the river. They hauled their supplies upstream for 65 miles along rough and rocky banks, maneuvering their boats through some of the most rugged and isolated terrain in the West. They struggled past the mouth of the Imnaha River to Dry Creek and set up camp near a traditional Nez Perce Indian crossing. There they proceeded to extract fine gold "flour" from debris left behind by less patient and
thorough miners. Historical rumors estimate they had accumulated around $5,000 of gold dust when they were all shot and mutilated by a gang of ruffians holed up nearby. 

Antagonism toward the Chinese was high on the frontier at the time, as it was for any people with strange traditions, darker skin, or Mongolian features, especially if they threatened ones desired quality of life in any way, like controlling valuable resources or working harder, smarter, or cheaper than everyone else.

The massacre was briefly tried in a local court, where a Wallowa County jury found the perpetrators not guilty. After that it seemed best not to dwell on the gory matter and it never made the history books. The details are still sketchy, although some of the trial records that had disappeared surfaced in 1995, buried under other papers in an old safe being donated to the local museum.

Former Wallowa County Commissioner Ben Boswell, whose family settled in the area in 1872, has been quoted as saying that: "Somebody intentionally tried to keep this story from happening. Somebody intentionally caused people to forget."

Efforts of several researchers over the past few decades have stimulated interest in preserving the story of the victims and memorializing their plight.

(Read for a recounting of the story and the social climate of the day.)

What was obvious at the time, was that by July of 1887, the mutilated bodies of Chinese miners were washing up along the Snake River about 65 miles downstream in Idaho Territory, so at least the motions of an investigation were required.

One of the suspects, Frank E. Vaughan, turned state's evidence and his testimony led to the arrest of three suspects, including15-year old Robert McMillan. They were all acquitted. Another three fled and were never tried. A relative of Vaughn later opined that "he was guilty as sin." 

Three years after the trial, young McMillan, who had downplayed the events in court, was dying of diptheria in Walla Walla, Washington, with a guilty conscience. He made a deathbed confession that he witnessed 13 of the Chinese gunned down at Deep Creek the first day. He was not present the second day, but had heard the boasting about how 21 more were killed.

The incident was officially acknowledged in 2005 and the site of the crime was renamed Chinese Massacre Cove. In 2012 a small monument was delivered there by helicopter and a ceremony ensued. Located within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, the best way to see the memorial is to travel up the river by boat from Lewiston.

Find The Josephy Center at 403 Main St. in Joseph, OR, 541-432-0505.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Seven Fantastic Day Hikes Near Joseph, Oregon

The Wallowa Mountains have 25 trailheads that lead into the National Forest and Eagle Cap Wilderness, and more than 500 miles of trails for people of all abilities. Here are seven convenient hiking places near the Mountain View Motel & RV Park for people who don't want to go for a strenuous backpacking trip, but prefer a day hike on these beautiful and varied trails.

Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site

The 62-acre Iwetemlaykin site marks the beginning of the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. The short trails here lead through a grassland to a wooded area and pond. Turn left at the pond and walk to the end of the trail to reach the Old Chief Joseph Grave Site.  

Getting There: The heritage site is 2.8 miles from the Mountain View Motel & RV Park. Turn right (south) onto Hwy 82 and drive through Joseph. The road Bear left at the south end of town to stay on this becomes OR-351, otherwise known as the Wallowa Lake Highway. Watch for the parking area on your right. If you reach the Old Chief Joseph Gravesite you've gone too far.
Devil's Gulch
Though it has been described as a "relatively unremarkable" trail compared to the stunning mountain vistas and tumbling waterfalls on the nearby Wallowa forest trails, this lightly used path on the 3500 acre Nature Conservancy's Clear Lake Ridge Preserve is a good hike in late winter and early spring because it is warmer and drier than much of the surrounding area. Acceptable for hikers of all skill levels, the follows and occasionally crosses the mostly-dry creek bed, with water in some places that goes underground in others. You may have to cross on a few rocks to keep your feet dry. The trail leads through some sagebrush terrain and undergrowth to an abandoned bunkhouse next to a spring and areas of Ponderosa pine. There are numerous side gulches and ridges for exploring. Keep your eyes open for bears, deer, and elk. Wear long sleeves and pants to protect against a few thorny bushes along the way.
Getting There: From Mountain View Motel & RV Park go right (south) on Hwy 82 into Joseph (1.8 mile). Turn left onto E. Wallowa Ave, (see sign to Halfway and Imnaha) and drive approximately 21 miles east on the Little Sheep Creek Highway. After you pass the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest sign, pull over at the next tributary and park on the south side of the road. If you pass a fish hatchery located .5 mile further, you’ll know you have missed the preserve entrance. Cross the footbridge over the creek just east of the preserve signs. Go through the pole fence and hike up the canyon.
Hurricane Creek Trail

The Hurricane Creek Trail leads into the Eagle Cap Wilderness and features stunning scenery and mountain vistas within a short walk of the trailhead. The lower parts of the trail are snow free before other portions of the Wallowa Mountain trail system. A couple hundred yards beyond the trailhead, turn right onto the Falls Creek trail for an easy quarter mile side trip to see Fall Creek crashing down from Lake Legore, the highest lake in Oregon at 8,960 feet.

Back on the main trail, about a tenth of a mile later, you will have to ford Falls Creek, which may not want to do during periods of high water. Three quarters of a mile up this trail is an area of knocked down trees, the result of an avalanche. The Eagle Cap Wilderness sign is in the middle of this area. At 1.5 miles, the trail crosses Deadman Creek. If you brought binoculars, look for mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the higher parts of the Deadman Creek drainage. This trail continues past more waterfalls and stream crossings to some good dispersed campsites about 5.5 miles in. Some people walk all the way to the Lakes Basin about 12 miles, but the trail is mostly used as a 6.5 mile day hike to Slick Rock Creek.

Getting There: From the Mountain View Motel & RV Park, turn right (south) onto the Joseph Hwy. (Hwy 82) and drive into town 1.8 miles. Turn right (west) on W. Wallowa Ave., which turns into Airport Lane, also known as Hurricane Creek Road. Continue on this for another 0.5 miles to the white Hurricane Creek Grange and turn left onto County Road 521 (becomes Forest Road 8205). This is shown as Hurricane Creek road on Google Maps. Drive about 3.7 miles to the trailhead. The road becomes narrow with turnouts and is not recommended for RVs. To park at the trailhead you either need to pay $5/day or display a recreation pass. Additionally, if hiking into the  Eagle Cap Wilderness your party will need a free WildernessVisitor Permit. Registration and permit boxes are located at the trailhead near the information board.

Chief Joseph Trail

Start at the Wallowa Lake Trailhead at the south end of Wallowa Lake and follow the sign to Chief Joseph Trail. The first .3 miles is shared with the West Fork Wallowa River Trail. At .3 mile stay right to get onto the Chief Joseph Trail, then bear left. (Check out the trail to the extreme right to see dramatic views of the Wallowa River crashing below). Two tenths of a mile later there is a bridge, after which the Chief Joseph Trail climbs some switchbacks. Nearly a mile later there is a good view of Wallowa Lake. BC Creek is at the end of that mile with a fantastic waterfall. Most people stop at this 1.5-mile mark because of the dangerous creek crossing. Experienced hikers can continue on this trail to the summit of 10,000-foot Chief Joseph Mountain.

Getting There: Turn right (south) onto Hwy 82 from the Mountain View Motel & RV Park and drive through Joseph. Bear left as the road turns into OR-351, otherwise known as the Wallowa Lake Highway. Go seven miles to the end of the road. See the entrance to the trails on your left. Recreation passes are not required at the Wallowa Lake Trailheads, but make sure to get a free Wilderness Pass if you plan to head into the Eagle Cap.
West Fork Wallowa River Trail
Start at the Wallowa Lake trailhead and take the same trail as above, then take the trail on your left at the .3-mile junction to explore the West Fork Wallowa River Trail. There is a bit of a climb after the junction for 300 yards, then it changes to a gentler walk as you pass the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Eagle Cap Wilderness signs. In the next mile of travel you will find the Refrigerator, a large, ancient rock slide that carries gusts of cold air across the trail. There is an avalanche area at 1.25 miles, then the trail climbs gently and crosses a bridge at the two-mile mark. If you continue on, you will see many more sites on the way to Six Mile Meadow and beyond to the popular Lakes Basin.
Getting There: Turn right (south) onto Hwy 82 from the Mountain View Motel & RV Park and drive through Joseph. Bear left as the road turns into OR-351, otherwise known as the Wallowa Lake Highway. Go seven miles to the end of the road. See the entrance to the trails on your left. Recreation passes are not required at Wallowa Lake Trailheads, but make sure to get a free Wilderness Pass if you plan to head into the Eagle Cap.

McCully Trailhead

The McCully Trailhead provides access to McCully Creek Trail #1812, situated in a warmer open ponderosa pine forest with some great views of the Wallowa Valley.

Getting There: From the Mountain View Motel & RV Park, turn right (south) onto Oregon State 82 into downtown Joseph. After 1.8 mi, turn left on Oregon State 350 for 5.3 miles then turn right onto Tucker Down Road (to Ferguson Ski Area), which is also County Rd. 633. Drive 3 miles and the road becomes Forest Road 3920; Continue on Forest Road 3920 for about 1.3 miles to the fork. Take the right fork and continue 0.5 miles to the trailhead entrance on your right.

High Wallowa Loop National Recreation Trail
Take the Wallowa Lake Tramway up to the summit of 8,241-foot Mount Howard for a thrilling shortcut to this National Recreation Area. Bring a picnic or dine at the Summit Grill and hike the two miles of nature trails with interpretive signs and breathtaking vistas. The tram operates weekends in late May then daily June through October. The ride costs $33 per person with discounts for seniors, students, and children.
Getting There: Turn right (south) onto Hwy 82 from the Mountain View Motel & RV Park and drive through Joseph. Bear left as the road turns into OR-351, otherwise known as the Wallowa Lake Highway. It's about six more miles to the tramway at 59919 Wallowa Lake Highway.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Joseph Oregon is the Perfect Place for Quilt Lovers

If you love and appreciate quilts, you will feel right at home at the Mountain View Motel & RV Park where most of the log framed beds are covered with quilts.

25th Annual Wallowa Mountain Quilters Guild Show Coming Up

To further feed your quilt passion, Joseph's annual quilt show takes place on June 9 and 10, the same weekend as the Oregon Mountain Cruise car show (June 10). We have found that our guests appreciate the scheduling of both on the same weekend for couples where the women don't want to look at cars all day and men don't care to admire quilts for hours.

The theme for this year’s 25th Annual Wallowa Mountain Quilters Guild Show will be The Oregon Trail, with more than 150 quilts for you to feast your eyes on at the Joseph Charter School at 400 East Williams Avenue, Joseph, Oregon. Yes, it is possible to purchase handmade quilts the show.

Hours are Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for adults; children 12 and under free.

See Wallowa Mountain Quilters' Guild for info on the show, and if you have quilts to share or sell, get the online entry form in by May 25.

The Wallowa Mountain Quilters' Guild was formed in 1991 by a small group of local quilt enthusiasts. Their mission is to promote and preserve the ancient art of quilting, share information about modern quilting methods, and provide venues for quilters to learn from each other and display their quilting accomplishments.

Getting There: Joseph Charter School is 2.4 miles from the Mountain View Motel & RV Park. Go right (south) toward Joseph on Hwy-82. Drive through downtown Joseph and turn left on E. Walker Ave. Turn right at the 3rd cross street onto N. East St., then left onto E. Williams Ave. Bear left again to stay on E. Williams and drive to the school.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Wildest Race on Earth in Enterprise OR

Wild Horse Race. Photo by Angelica Ursula Dietrick, by permission of Mountain High Broncs & Bulls
See one of the wildest races on earth at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds in Enterprise, Oregon, during the 14th Annual Mountain High Broncs & Bulls Rodeo coming up June 17. Wild Horse Racing is on the schedule with more familiar rodeo events like mutton busting, and bronc and bull riding. Wild Horse Racing has its roots back in the old cowboy days, when wild horses had to be captured and trained from herds that roamed the open range.
Teams of three men work together to subdue a horse so it can be saddled and ridden to the finish line. When the horses come out of the chutes, the shankman of each team holds the horse in a position that allows the mugger to move up the shank and grab the horse by the halter. The rider then sets the saddle on the horse, cinches it, mounts, and rides to the finish line. The process usually takes 30 to 40 seconds in arena races, but for some teams it may take the entire two-minute time limit.

The Wild Horse Race was a common part of early day rodeos, when ranch hands would team up to compete against other ranches. The event dwindled to a handful of local races by the late Sixties and it looked like wild horse racing might die out as a rodeo event. But in the early Seventies a group of cowboys at Cheyenne Frontier Days organized to revive the sport. The category was officially reborn in 1981, when the Professional Wild Horse Racers held their first National Finals at the NILE Indoor Arena in Billings, Montana. Today the Professional Wild Horse Racing Association has a well-staffed office in Madras, Oregon.

Getting to the Rodeo: The Wallowa County Fairgrounds at 668 NW 1st St. is an 8-minute drive from Mountain View Motel & RV Park. Follow OR-82 north and west through Enterprise. Turn north on (right) NW 1st St. for .3 mile and see fairgrounds on your left.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Live in the Past for a Day in Flora, Oregon

If you're visiting Wallowa County during the first weekend of June, head to Flora, Oregon, to honor the days of old with a Dutch oven lunch and pioneer skill demonstrations, at the annual Flora School Day, June 3, from 10 am to 4 pm.

A volunteer from Spokane demonstrates spinning in the Flora School library. Photo: Flora School Education Center
Traditional Skills Demonstrations

Volunteers from near and far will share practical skills like blacksmithing, rope making, wagon wheel building, spinning, weaving, and basket making. Activities include the annual pie social, games for kids and adults, and candle making for children. You may catch a whiff of bread baking for lunch in the wood-fired oven, or the sound of the butter churn cranking. Buy something at the Country Store to help the non-profit Flora School Education Center restore the old Flora School and continue sharing the skills of northeastern Oregon's ancestors. Admission is free, lunch is $10/plate.

Education on the Frontier

Flora School District #32 was formed in 1891 with a one room log schoolhouse at Buzzard's Corner in the platted Town of Flora. A good education was a significant achievement on the frontier. Teachers often had only weeks, not months, to impart the basics, especially for boys, whose help was needed on family farms and ranches. In northern Wallowa County, the boys helped harvest wheat, barley, and hay, and were also expected to assist with lambing and calving. Logging families moved often from camp to camp so the children's school time was spotty. When children did attend school, they walked or rode their horses, so weather was always a factor. Nevertheless, the one room schoolhouse at Buzzard's Corner soon filled up and a larger one was built in 1900. A six month school year was instituted at that time.

Flora was a Bustling Frontier Town

Flora was a bustling western frontier outpost that served farmers and loggers. It had three shingle mills, a flour mill, hotel, bank, doctor and dentist offices, churches, Grange, a newspaper owned for many years by a woman, a photography studio, three blacksmiths and other craftsmen's shops. (Electricity finally reached the town around 1958). 

Center of Education in Northern Wallowa County

Continuing growth of the district justified construction of Flora's third school in 1915. It became the center of education and activity in northern Wallowa County. The two-story structure was built in the traditional Craftsman style and it was positioned to make the most of natural light that poured into its large windows.

At it's high point, there were eight teachers and 100 students at the school. Heat was provided by a wood and coal furnace in the basement, and a wooden boardwalk led to outdoor privies behind the building. Water was piped in from offsite and stored in a tank behind the school. 

Rural Population Declines

Flora's population and school enrolment dwindled as better roads, urban opportunities, and world wars drew people away from the rural communities of Wallowa County. Flora's high school was the smallest in Oregon with only twelve students when it closed in 1962. The elementary school held out until 1975 and only one student remained, sixth grader Ben Curry.  At that time, high school students were already traveling to Enterprise and Flora's elementary children had the option of attending the one room school 15 miles away in Troy, or bussing to Enterprise. (The one room school in Troy still serves four students).

Flora School a Historical Beacon

Nowadays the Flora School remains as the most prominent feature of pastoral Flora, which consists of a scattering of old houses and outbuildings, some vacant and some remodeled. Although people still live in Flora, Google and others refer to the community as a ghost town. The Flora School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Getting There

Flora, Oregon, is situated between Lewiston and Joseph, Oregon, at the headwaters of West Bear Creek, three miles west of OR-3, 41.0 miles north of the Mountain View Motel & RV Park.

For more information or to become a volunteer, skills demonstrator, or just donate Email: volunteers(at)floraschool(dot)org.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Songs About Oregon

May is International Song Writing Month, so here are some songs about Oregon.

The official Oregon state song lyrics, "Oregon, My Oregon," were written by John A. Buchanan with music by Henry B. Murtagh. They entered the song into a contest in 1920 and won, It was published, endorsed by the state superintendent of public instruction, then adopted by the legislature in 1927.

"Land of the Empire Builders, Land of the Golden West;
Conquered and held by free men, Fairest and the best.
On-ward and upward ever, Forward and on, and on;
Hail to thee, Land of the Heroes, My Oregon.

Land of the rose and sunshine, Land of the summer's breeze;
Laden with health and vigor, Fresh from the western seas.
Blest by the blood of martyrs, Land of the setting sun;
Hail to thee, Land of Promise, My Oregon."
Last November, 1859 Oregon Magazine posted an article about 18 more contemporary songs that refer to Oregon, including Dolly Parton's "Eugene, Oregon," which is based on a true story about how she got homesick during her 1972 tour, and the people of Eugene made her feel better.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

"The Telling" from a Canyon Called Hell

"They say the Chinook ain't comin' back,
And the cowman must carry the blame."

Those wistful words by Snake River cowboy poet, Smoke Wade, say a mouthful about how the traditional American cowboy faded from the Snake River canyon. Today, Mr. Wade writes stories and poems that recall his rugged ranching life among the rich native grasses and rock faced cliffs of America's deepest gorge.
Cowboy culture is honored with a bronze statue in downtown Joseph, Oregon
Smoke Wade was raised on a spread in Hells Canyon where the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers meet. Like his father and grandfather before him, Mr. Wade grew up on the back of horses and rode six miles to a one-room school during his elementary school days. It was in his blood. His grandfather, J.H. Jidge Tippett, was placed on the back of a horse with his mother and three siblings at the age of four in 1891, and rode from their camp in the Blue Mountains to a new life along the Snake.

The home ranch lay about seventy miles from the county seat of Enterprise, Ore., on a travois trail that climbed 5,000 feet from the river to the prairie above. Mr. Wade's elders were renowned for driving cattle through the tricky rivers and even loading them one-by-one onto a boat (that's all that would fit) to reach grazing lands on the other side.
Smoke's first job off the ranch came in 1960 when he was fourteen years-old and worked as a muleskinner for the Cache Creek sheep drive. In those days, thousands of sheep were grazed at the bottom of Hell's Canyon in winter. In spring they were driven up the canyon, through the heart of downtown Enterprise, and on to summer pasture along the National Stock Drive Trail in the Wallowa Mountains. Mr. Wade celebrated his 15th birthday in the woods, sitting around a bonfire with the other men, nipping on a bottle and telling stories, with coyotes and cougars howling and screeching in the distance.

Tall tales and cowboy poems were a staple of life for America's legendary men of the land. It is how they held fast to essential cowboy wit and wisdom and passed it to the next generation. Now their words mostly memorialize the waning culture of the open range.
"Often, the 'telling' was a way of recalling the significance of events, the lives of other cowboys, or perhaps the general history of the range we rode. After the fall of the Hells Canyon ranching industry, cowboy poetry was a natural way for me to recall the history of the life I once lived and the cowboys I had known." Smoke Wade
 A Change of Season by Smoke Wade

We don't summer at Chesnim' these days,
Not since the For' Service shut 'er down;
They took away our permit to graze,
Now we pasture on the edge of town.

We don't fall ride at Cold Springs anymore,
In the teeth of an early winter storm;
Or hitch our boots by the cow camp door,
And play cribbage inside where it's warm.

We no longer winter by the Snake,
On benches carved below the rim;
The land was sold for the public's sake,
To the For' Service and to the BLM.

No, we don't spring calve on Cactus Flat,
Since it sold to the State Fish and Game;
They say the Chinook ain't comin' back,
And the cowman must carry the blame.

So, we gather now, at Third and Grand,
A beer garden after the parade;
And, here we'll make one final stand,
Until this season begins to fade.

© 1994, Smoke Wade. Reproduced here by permission of the author.
For permission to reprint this article contact Worthwhile Media.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fish Free in Oregon

Oregon's free fishing days in 2017 are:
April 22-23
June 3-4
Nov 25-26
Dec 31 & Jan 1, 2018

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife advises that the need for a license is waived during free fishing days, but all other regulations still apply.  There is loads of good fishing information for beginners at Take Me Fishing, and specific tips for fishing Wallowa Lake is at the Best Fishing in America site.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Nez Perce Trail

During your stay at the Mountain View Motel and RV Park, you may want to check out the Nez Perce National Historical Trail, a portion of which traverses Northeastern Oregon. The trail is part of the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Park which is comprised of thirty-eight various sites of Nez Perce history in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Montana.

 Nez Perce Trail marks historic flight of the Wallowa Band

The Nez Perce Trail marks the attempted flight in 1877 by the Chief Joseph band of Nez Perces from Wallowa County to British Territory (Canada) where Chief Sitting Bull had sought asylum. This flight became necessary in the wake of broken treaties, skirmishes with settlers, and pursuit by the US Army.

The trail was originally added to the National Park Trail System by Congress in 1986, with fourteen additional historic sites in Oregon, Washington, and Montana included eight years later. Of the 55 miles of trail in Oregon, 40 miles cross private property and 15 are on national forest land. This is not a trail you can follow in the conventional sense -- a line with a fixed starting and ending point. And it can only be toured by vehicle intermittently because it traverses rugged and largely inaccessible country.  

gravesite of elder chief joseph with wallowa mountains in background
The Gravesite of the Elder Chief Joseph Near Wallowa Lake
Chief Joseph's Grave

The Nez Perce Trail starts at the grave of Old Chief Joseph who died in 1870. This site, open to the public, is located along Hwy. 82, one mile south of Joseph, Oregon, on the north end of Wallowa Lake. It is the final resting place of the elder Chief Joseph who was originally buried near the convergence of the Wallowa and Lostine rivers, a traditional Nez Perce camp located about 12 miles northwest of Enterprise, Oregon. The chief's original grave was desecrated so it was moved to this spot near the lake in 1928 for protection. This is a sacred and sensitive place for the Nez Perce people.
Stone wall and gateposts built by the Umatilla Tribal Civilian Conservation Corps at Chief Joseph gravesite
Entrance to the Chief Joseph Gravesite near Joseph, OR
The cemetery is separated from the highway by a cobble wall and gateposts built by the Umatilla Tribal Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938-40.  The younger Chief Joseph is buried near Nespelem, Washington, where he died in 1904 on the Colville Indian Reservation after trying unsuccessfully to return to the Wallowas with his people.
Dug Bar

The trail heads northeast and crosses the Snake River at Dug Bar, the traditional crossing site where the Chief Joseph band forded before the 1877 Nez Perce War. They were intending to settle on the reservation near Lapwai, Idaho, but some young warriors were accused of killing settlers before they got there and the Army retaliated, so the Chief Joseph and the band headed to Montana until things cooled down but they escalated instead.

 Joseph Canyon

Another historical site along the trail is the dramatic Joseph Canyon Overlook along Oregon Hwy 3 between Enterprise and the Washington border. It was named after Chief Joseph who is traditionally thought to have been born in a cave on the east bank of Joseph Creek in Asotin County. Joseph Canyon contains Joseph Creek, a tributary of the Grande Ronde River, which flows into the Snake River. Prior to European settlement, the Nez Perce used the canyon bottomlands as a travel corridor from summer camp sites in the Wallowa valley to winter camps along the Grande Ronde and Snake rivers where wildlife and plant foods were plentiful. In later centuries, the Nez Perce grazed horses on the canyon grasslands. The Nez Perce Tribe lost the canyon land because of broken treaties but the tribe has since repurchased it. 
Tipi in foreground at Joseph Canyon Overlook in NE Oregon
Joseph Canyon Overlook in Northeastern Oregon
The Nez Perce Trail goes from Joseph, Oregon, to Northern Montana
The Nez Perce trail enters Idaho at Lewiston and cuts across north-central Idaho, entering Montana near Lolo Pass. It then travels through the Bitterroot Valley, after which it re-enters Idaho at Bannock Pass and travels east back into Montana at Targhee Pass to cross the Continental Divide. It bisects Yellowstone National Park, and then follows the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone out of Wyoming into Montana. The trail heads north to the Bear's Paw Mountains, ending 40 miles from the Canadian border, where the decimated band surrendered to federal authorities.

Driving from LaGrande, Oregon

If you are coming to Joseph from LaGrande on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway you will pass Minam Hill, which marked the westernmost boundary of the Wallowa band's traditional territory, as well as that of the entire Nez Perce people. As the highway crosses the river, Bear Creek flows into the Wallowa River on the south side of the bridge. This excellent hay country supported the Nez Perce herds of thousands of horses and cattle.

About a mile east are the remnants of a marker old Chief Joseph made from poles set in the ground, originally about 10 feet tall. They mark the Wallowa reservation boundary of the 1863 treaty, which Joseph did not sign (and eventually led to the running battle from Wallowa to northern Montana). These poles were maintained by the Indians until 1877. They have diminished markedly since then. 

Hasotino Village Site

Another Nez Perce historical site is the Hasotino Village Site or Hesutiin, one of the largest ancient villages on the Snake River. An exhibit in the visitor center at Hell’s Gate State Park over the border in Idaho provides information.

Pictographs and petroglyphs along the Snake River at Buffalo Eddy, south of Lewiston, Idaho, can be seen by boat.

Interactive Map of the National Historic Nez Perce Trail

FAQs about the National Historic Nez Perce Trail

Here is a good web page about the Nez Perce National Historic Park

Friday, February 10, 2017

What goes on at the Mountain View Motel & RV Park in Winter?

Mudding and sanding sheetrock, wiring, plumbing, insulation and sealing, tiling, and installing new fixtures, along with the usual excellent guests services, of course. We're working on #2, the Fisherman's Room.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

View "The Big One" with us in Joseph, Oregon

The major astronomical event of 2017 is coming

 The moon will block the sun on August 21st in our first total solar eclipse since 1979.

Artist Interpretation of Total Solar Eclipse over the Wallowa Mountains

Eclipse chasers from around the world are expected to descend on Oregon in 2017, and many camp sites under the path of totality -- a narrow swath about 75 miles wide that swoops across America in an arc from Oregon to South Carolina -- are already reserved.

In northeastern Oregon, the path of totality includes the area south of the Wallow Mountains. Joseph, just to the north of the Wallows, is one ring out from the path of totality, and most of the sun will still be dramatically blocked by the moon.

View the Eclipse from Joseph, Oregon

The Mountain View Motel & RV Park has a large lawn and a great unencumbered expanse of sky above, perfect for donning eclipse glasses and viewing the spectacle. The good news is, we still have some vacancies. But call quickly because they won't last.

Get Eclipse Shades

No matter where you view the eclipse, be sure to use eclipse glasses that block out harmful ultraviolet light. These glasses should be worn whenever a part of the sun can be seen. You can pick up a pair of eclipse shades online for $2.99 each at

By the way, the accompanying image is our digital artist's rendition of the event, and we don't expect the sun to be that big! Nevertheless, a total solar eclipse is a sight you will never forget.

Call the Mountain View Motel & RV Park today at (541) 432-2982 to reserve your spot.