Spring is in the air, and there's no better time to enjoy the natural beauty and adventure that Joseph, Oregon has to offer, especially with far fewer tourists than during the busy summer months. From spectacular landscapes to unique wildlife, including the opportunity to witness majestic herds of elk as they descend from the mountains to feed in the fields, there's something for everyone in this charming corner of the Pacific Northwest. Check out our guide to the top activities for outdoor enthusiasts looking to make the most of the season without the crowds.
Hunt for Morel Mushrooms Later in the spring, the elusive morel mushroom makes its appearance. Channel your inner forager and explore the public lands around Joseph, searching under fallen branches and other hiding spots. Fun Fact: Morel mushrooms are considered a delicacy and can sell for over $20 per pound! Harvest responsibly by cutting off the mushrooms near the root, ensuring they'll return next year. Learn more about morel mushroom hunting in Oregon here.
Marvel at Migratory Birds Spring is prime time for birdwatching in Joseph. Keep your eyes peeled for falcons, ospreys, eagles, kingfishers, western bluebirds, western meadowlarks, northern shrikes, and an array of fascinating hawks as they pass through the region. Fun Fact: The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is home to over 300 bird species! Check out the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest for birdwatching locations.
Experience Retro Charm and Scenic Drives in Imnaha Journey to the town of Imnaha, just an hour from Joseph, where you can enjoy the retro ambiance of the local restaurant and store. As you drive towards Hells Canyon, the landscape evokes the feeling of an old western movie, with picturesque canyons guiding you on your way. Fun Fact: Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America, even deeper than the Grand Canyon! Soak in the breathtaking scenery on your way to Imnaha, and don't forget to visit the Imnaha Tavern for food and drink.
Cast Your Line in Wallowa Lake Whether you prefer fishing from a boat or the shoreline, Wallowa Lake offers ample opportunities to reel in some impressive trout. Springtime is the best season to fish for kokanee, which are usually caught trolling from boats. Fun Fact: Wallowa Lake is over 3.5 miles long and 1 mile wide, with a maximum depth of 299 feet! Don't forget your fishing gear and a bit of patience! Learn more about fishing at Wallowa Lake.
Experience the Zumwalt Prairie in Bloom The Zumwalt Prairie is the largest contiguous bunch grass prairie in the US, and a visit during wildflower season is nothing short of breathtaking. Time your trip right, and you'll be rewarded with a vibrant display of colors. Fun Fact: The Zumwalt Prairie is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including elk, mule deer, badgers, and over 100 bird species. Discover more about the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve.
Hike the Moraine for Awe-Inspiring Views Begin your trek at the foot of Wallowa Lake and prepare for a steep ascent up the moraine. Once you reach the top, enjoy the relatively flat terrain and take in the magnificent views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Fun Fact: The moraines at Wallowa Lake were formed by glaciers that carved the landscape thousands of years ago. For a one-way hike, park a car near the head of the lake and walk back down the road. Find more hiking information on Wallowa Lake Trails.
Conquer Dug Bar's Rugged Terrain Pack up your 4-wheel drive and head off the beaten path to Dug Bar, the most challenging adventure on our list. The drive is not easy and requires a 4-wheel drive, but the stunning views of the Snake River at the bottom make it worth the effort. Fun Fact: Dug Bar is named after an early settler, David Dugger, who built a cabin in the area. Don't forget your camera! Learn more about Dug Bar and driving directions here.
In conclusion, spring in Joseph, Oregon, offers an abundance of outdoor activities for enthusiasts of all types. With fewer tourists than in the summer, it's an ideal time to explore the region's natural beauty, wildlife, and history. From birdwatching to scenic drives, tranquil wildflower meadows, and challenging off-road adventures, Joseph has something to suit everyone's interests. So pack your bags and embark on a memorable adventure in this picturesque corner of the Pacific Northwest.