The place, quite simply, is magical.
Wallowa Lake is a magical place somewhat off the beaten path. Oregon’s Highway 82 literally dead ends here in the midst of the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the northeastern tip of the state. It took us about five hours on our meandering-the-back-roads journey south to get there from Spokane, Washington.
Our destination was the near century-old wood-frame lodge nestled in the Wallowa Mountains at the head of the five-mile long, 283-foot deep lake.
The charms of the lodge, its lakeside setting, and the nearby tiny town of Joseph conspired to cast a spell over us three years ago when we celebrated our anniversary there and drew us back to celebrate again this year.
At the time it was built in 1923 to serve as an exclusive hunting lodge, the present-day hotel was accessible only by boat. Today a two-lane paved road follows one side of the lake shore. It leads to the lodge and other vacation rentals, a state park and campground.
The lodge has undergone extensive restoration (bathrooms are quite modern in each of the rooms) but the old-world charm remains in the décor and furnishings. Floors creak when walked on and windows squeak when opened.
We’d didn’t pull the roller blind at night so that the morning sun would act as Mother Nature’s gentle alarm clock as it climbed over the mountain and peeked through our lace and floral chintz curtains.
Old frames displayed similarly aged art; the furnishings were mid-century antiques. There were no telephones or televisions in the rooms. A large stone fireplace, not a Wii Room, was the attraction in the lobby. (Okay, so it was Wi-Fi equipped).
Guests and deer co-mingled on the expansive eight-acre grounds on which the lodge and its more recently constructed eight freestanding cabins stand. Deer were so tame they’d let you photograph them as they rested. A fellow guest hand fed carrots to the deer.
At the edge of the grounds the Wallowa River flows into the lake. It is the place of afternoon strolls.
Or perhaps simply relaxing tucked among the trees at river’s edge.
Had there been more hours in the day I might have been tempted to sit at the desk in the corner of the lobby and write inspired prose in my journal. . .
Even with a leisurely pace, our days went quickly. Before we knew it the day had slipped away. The sun was easing itself down over the lake, turning the trees to silhouettes; the only sounds the cicadas, an occasional bird and the rustle of the pine needles in the breeze.
Yes, Wallowa Lake is a magical place. The kind of place where anniversaries are best celebrated.
It’s Travel Photo Thursday so be sure to visit Budget Travelers Sandbox.
Click the link for additional information on Wallowa Lake Lodge. For information on Joseph, Oregon and the recreational activities nearby: http://www.josephoregon.com
Walking distance from the lodge: The Wallowa Lake Tramway, with gondolas that whisk you 3,700 feet up the side of Mount Howard; (the highest ascent in North America). At the top there’s a restaurant, hiking trails .