Oregon's Wallowa Mountains

An Introduction into America's "Little Switzerland"

Although billed as America's"Little Switzerland," the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern Oregon are actually more similar to California's Sierra Nevada. (That comparison, however, apparently doesn't carry the same marketing appeal.) The mountains are a stunningly beautiful mix of white granite peaks, sparkling lakes and streams, alpine meadows, and attractive forests. Even better, God seemingly designed this paradise with the backpacker in mind. Most of the most scenic country is beyond the range of day hikers. For the long-distance hiker, however, the Eagle Cap Wilderness is laced with hundreds of miles of interconnecting trails. Since over 75 percent of all visits are to the Lakes Basin, and Aneroid Lake and Glacier Lake areas, there are many miles of lonesome trails in other areas.

Relative to the region's attributes, the down sides are so minor only a true pessimist could dwell on them. You should, nonetheless, be prepared for crowds in a few areas, mosquitoes near the lakes in July, afternoon thunderstorms, and dusty (and "aromatic") trails due to fairly heavy horse use.

Most of the range's many highlights are within the areas of the described trips. If, like the author, you develop a love for this country and want to see more, there are dozens of additional places to explore. Almost any chosen destination will reward you with beautiful scenery and wonderful memories.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


park finder
step one
Where are you going?

step one
What do you want to do?

+ More Activities

GEARZILLA: The Gorp Gear Blog

Receive Gear Reviews, Articles & Advice

Preview this newsletter »

Ask Questions