Joseph Travel Guide

Joseph is located around 400 miles east of Portland in the somewhat remote Wallowa Valley of Oregon. Often referred to as the ‘Switzerland of Oregon,’ the area entices outdoor enthusiasts all months of the year. The town’s name changed from Silver Lake to Lake City over the years and finally, in 1880, the residents decided to formally honor Nez PercĂ© Chief Joseph and change the town’s name to Joseph.

Joseph is one of the lesser-known Oregon treasures. It is part of an area which has an economy based on agriculture, art, timber and tourism. In 1982, the town’s first bronze foundry opened, providing a steady income for artists who had settled here because of the inspiring natural beauty. An unforeseen benefit has been the creation of a collection of life-sized bronze sculptures now on permanent display on Joseph’s Main street.

Snow-capped peaks provide the backdrop to the old-west style of buildings in the center of town. The main street leads straight to the shores of Wallowa Lake and farther on to the splendor of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.


Chief Joseph Days Rodeo: consistently voted as one of the top small rodeos in the US, the spectacle brings in major contenders for all events as well as clowns, specialty acts, and top stock contractors.

Wallowa Lake: located about one mile from the center of Joseph, the lake was formed more than nine million years ago by a glacier. It’s approximately five miles long, one mile wide and is nearly 300ft deep.

The Wallowa Lake Tramway: is truly one of the most thrilling aerial rides in the US. The four-person cable cars begin their ascent from the base at an elevation to the top of Mount Howard in 15 minutes. The distance is close to four miles, so expect a pretty quick ride up.

Wallow County Museum: pioneer artifacts and the tale of the Nez Percé are documented in this small yet comprehensive museum.