The Oregon Wallowas Part IV – Chasing Brews, Bronze & Barns
We come at last to the final post in my Wallowa series. I say “final”, but honestly there’s still a bunch of stuff we haven’t done here. The two weeks we passed in the area were perfect. We got a good taste of the place and we certainly couldn’t have planned it any better weather-wise (mid 70’s and sunny most of the time), but we’d need many more visits to fully see and experience everything there is to see and do here.
That said, our previous excursions into the wilds and the depths of Hell made us long for some “city” stuff, and surprisingly, yet again this area delivers. Joseph and Enterprise are two super-cute towns that are both central attractions to the area. Joseph, the smaller of the two, is undoubtedly the most picturesque, a tree-lined and flower-rich avenue of small shops, coffee houses and galleries, with the stunning beauty of the Wallowa mountains in the background. Enterprise is bigger, but still cute and in-between the two you have endless fields of rolling green pasture and barns. Plus both towns have lots of free WiFi spots and since we had no internet at the State Park (review coming), this is where we hung out on our days off. Here’s a roundup of our favorite places in and around town.
Chasing Brews (and Whisky)
All that hiking sure makes you thirsty and we were overjoyed when we discovered Eastern Oregon has its very own beer culture. It may not offer the size or variety of other places we’ve been, but it’s got a surprising amount of depth. In addition to 3 brew options around Joseph/Enterprise there is also an outstanding Distillery. Who knew?
- Terminal Gravity Brewing – This is probably the most famous of the breweries in the area. The bar is situated in a super-cute yellow cottage surrounded by a lovely outdoor beer garden in Enterprise, OR. We tried a flight and found the IPA’s to be very substantial, as well as the Festive Ale (a dark ruby). Only bummer? No stouts on tap (wrong season) and dogs are only allowed at 2 of the outdoor tables which are on the other side of the little stream (rather limited). Still, beers were excellent. More info? click HERE.
- Mutiny Brewing – Started by a brewer from TG, this downtown Joseph fixture has a huge, and entirely dog-friendly outdoor seating area (with excellent mountain views) and a very decent selection of brews. Overall we found the beers to be slightly less substantial than TG, but we liked the Haze Maze Strong Ale quite a lot and actually preferred the atmosphere here. Plus we found the food to be some of the best we tasted in the area (the Thai Green Curry was awesome, believe it or not). More info? click HERE.
- Embers Brew House – They advertise the biggest selection of micro brews in Eastern Oregon, and I have to admit they offer good stuff. They only have around 10 beers on tap, but they keep it top quality and rotate regularly. Food is not as good as Mutiny IMHO, but it’s decent enough pub fare. Dog-friendly outdoor seating & free WiFi here too. We went twice! More info? Click HERE.
- Stein Distillery – Who knew Joseph would hide an award-winning distillery in their midst? Excellent rye whisky’s, bourbon and vodka here, all sourced from local ingredients. We bought several bottles and have been savoring them like sweet gold. Free tastings, but no doggies allowed. More info? Click HERE.
Bring Doggie? YES. All of the above *except* Stein Distillery offer dog-friendly outdoor seating. Mutiny Brewing is our favorite IMHO.
Stopping For Coffee & Chocolate
I love a town with cute coffee shops, not only for the free WiFi, but to feed my Mocha/chocolate addiction which MUST BE FED (or woe be the consequences). These were my two favorite spots in Joseph:
- Red Horse Coffee Traders – The local roaster is as cute as it sounds. Lovely little cottage-like coffee shop with lots of spacious, grassy dog-friendly outdoor seating, outstanding Mochas (really addictive) and good, quality food. Excellent WiFi too. I think we went 8 times in our 2 weeks and I was honestly tempted to go every single day. More info? Click HERE.
- Arrowhead Chocolates – The local chocolate store is a must-do for all fellow chocoholics. Excellent truffles (especially their basic dark and award-winning huckleberry dark) and a very decent Mocha. Somewhat pricey here, but it’s all quality stuff and the cost keeps you from over-indulging (right??!). Limited outdoor dog-friendly seating. More info? Click HERE.
Bring Doggie? YES. Both areas have outdoor dog-friendly seating. Red Horse is AWESOME for dogs.
Joseph is definitely an “artsy” town, but it manages to pull it off without all the pretense and pomp that usually come with such a title. Much of Joseph’s art culture can be traced back to the start of the downtown bronze foundry in 1982, and much of that was accidental too. A retired guy got a deal on an abandoned building and wondered “what do I do now?”. One thing led to another and wouldn’t you know it, a world-class foundry was built.
You can take tours of the foundry itself (once/day) or you can visit the downtown shop and hunt down the dozen or so sculptures that are hidden all around town. The growing bronze business has in turn inspired lots of other art…glass, pottery, painting….you name it. So, after (possibly) over-indulging in beer and chocolate, what better way to walk off the excess than by strolling around town and discovering a bit of art?
Bring Doggie? DEPENDS. You can walk around town and hunt down all the bronze sculptures with doggie in tow. However you cannot enter the galleries, or tour Valley Bronze Foundry with pooch.
Eastern Oregon is big farm country, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find plenty of barns around. What makes this extra area special however is the Wallowa Mountains which provide a background setting that’s just so uniquely picturesque. The local visitor center knows this and has capitalized on it by selling an $8 booklet called the “Wallowa Valley Barn Tour”, but honestly you can find most of these beauties by just driving around and looking. Between our “big” outings this is what we did, and we had a total blast in the process. A worthy pastime & super fun for photo enthusiasts. Go early AM or late PM for the best light.
Bring Doggie? YES. It’s just driving around, so if doggie likes the car, take them along for the ride.
That wraps up our time in Eastern Oregon. There’s honestly so much we didn’t manage including the Joseph Rail Riders (read the roadlesstraveled blog post on this super cool activity HERE), River Rafting (read MoHo’s post on that HERE), and exploring the area around Lostine (great food & excellent hiking around there), but it’s always good to have a reason to come back. We’re headed West to our most beloved coast and the start of our summer hosting job, and I honestly can’t wait. We’re so very glad we got to explore this area, but it’s time to move on. See ya later Wallowas.
- Wallowa County Chamber: Lots of info on things to do and see. Link HERE.
- Joseph Oregon Site: Specific to Joseph, OR. Link HERE.
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets says
Just beautiful photos Nina. That red barn shot could be the cover of Country magazine, or a number of others. What a special region. We will make a point of visiting this area once we “Escape”. All thanks to you and Paul.
The red barn (in the panorama) was my VERY favorite barn in the area. Very scenic indeed!
Ann C says
Hi Nina, thanks for your postings about the Wallowas, we can’t wait to visit. However…you haven’t mentioned (did I miss it?) a peep about the campground itself. Any thoughts, recommendations, etc.?
We really do look forward to each of your postings and have learned so much…a few more years and we’ll be there too…thanks!
Fear not, a full campground review is coming…that’ll be my very next post.
Been wanting to visit there for ten years. Now I really need to make the effort to get to that part of Oregon.
Dennis Senecaut says
Your photos seem to get better all the time. Not that they weren’t already very good. Beautiful! Thank you!
Diana and Jim says
I love the brickwork on those buildings in Joseph. They just don’t build ’em like that anymore, Nina. Very cool.
Totally. Joseph has done a great job of preserving their old buildings and keeping the historical feel of the town intact. It really is a beautiful little town.
Dawn from Camano Island says
Thank you for these informative posts about the Wallowas, Nina. So much beauty & your photos are spectacular! I grew up in Oregon & have never visited there. The area is now at the top of our list for next spring/summer.
Excellent! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. I think the time we went (late Spring, early summer) turned out perfectly. Nice mix of good temps, not too many people and abundant wildflowers.
Gorgeous area you’ve been enjoying! Enjoy your time on the coast, safe travels!
Love it. Awesome photos of what is a beautiful area.
Metamorphosis Lisa says
I swear Oregon does it right….there is something for everyone there….every part of the state has some amazingly beautiful feature to explore. Joseph is about as cute as a town can possibly get, especially in the spring! Gorgeous photos!
Totally agree. We just love this state!
Hi Nina, what a great series you have done on the Wallowas, I’m sure you have inspired a lot of people to go there. I certainly do. So did your Verizon data not work in the towns also?
Verizon was great in-town (LTE even), but just didn’t work at the State Park. The park is at the base of all the big Eagle Cap mountains so it’s in a total “dead” zone for signal. No problem with signal in town though.
The awe inspiring beauty of the Wallowa region, great coffee shops, multiple micro breweries, and a micro distillery too! Wow, you’ve made a major score I’d say.
Thanks for another great post, and the pics are as good as any you’ve done. That’s saying a lot. 🙂
Thank you so much. You always have such kind words for my posts 🙂
Bear tracks blog says
You have totally inspired us to explore the Wallowas! Your pictures are absolutely amazing. As I’ve said before, Thank You for making it so easy for us to just follow your footsteps and enjoy the best things about this lifestyle.
Thank you much for the lovely compliment 🙂
Wow, I had no idea that this part of Oregon offered so much. Your photos are so stunning. I love photographs of barns and that red bard against the mountain backdrop is so lovely. I had no idea that Joseph offered so much. I have bookmarked the Wallowas for a future visit, perhaps in the fall.
This area was a total surprise to us too. It had been on my radar for a while so I knew some vague stuff about it before we came, but it turned out to be so much more than we ever expected. What a place!
Pam Wright says
Yes, I am thinking this place needs to be seen soon!! Thanks for the great tour:)
No Starbucks here Pam…that’s the only thing you’ll have to suffer LOL. Otherwise this place is right up your alley. Tons of great hiking, good beer, good food, art etc.
What a fabulous exploration and write-up on the Wallowas! We spent five days there at the very beginning of our full-time journey two years ago and fell in love with the area. You’ve given us lots of ideas for more places to explore when we return. 🙂
I didn’t even realize you’d been here, but of course that was before I started reading your blog. It certainly is an area that fits your nature-loving personality.
The only thing this area *didn’t* have was a great farmers market. Good Safeway in Enterprise, but the farmers market (in both Enterprise and Joseph) was just 4 stalls, only one of which had any produce (and just a tiny bit at that). Kinda surprising considering the amount of farmland out here, but I guess not every place can be perfect LOL.
Bob Martel says
I can’t wait to get out to Oregon in September. We had tentatively planned to spend a month or more on the coast before heading south, but now I wonder if we should just stay in Eastern OR? Nice to have so many possibilities. 🙂
I’m sure September is just perfect around the Wallowas, but it’s also THE best month on the coast. Hard choice really. If you have the time and plan to come back to the area I suggest just picking one and exploring it in depth, which is kinda what we prefer to do. Can’t go wrong either way.
Jodee Gravel says
Beautiful. Views, brews, coffee, chocolate, art, barns – wow!! Sounds like another place that is hard to leave. And you sure had lovely weather to enjoy it all. Always appreciate the doggie-friendly info 🙂 I’ve been buried in all your reviews of the Oregon coast as we head north from Brookings Harbor after the 4th. Hoping we can tuck into some of those amazing SPs – knowing which sites are best for our rig is such a huge asset. Thanks much!!!
Ahhhh! The Oregon Coast! I love it so much. I do hope you enjoy your trip north. You’ll get some foggy days this time of year, but also some amazing sun. I love the way the weather changes.
If you have trouble finding reservations at the State Parks (which is common in summer), check out some of the Marinas and non-reservation parks along the way. I have more info here:
Mark Elliott says
Great write-ups about the Wallowas. I grew up in SE WA (Walla Walla) and spent many happy days tent camping in the Blue Mountains and Wallowas so it was great to revisit an area I loved so much in my youth by reading your posts.
Since you’re heading back to WA I wonder if you’ve heard about the North Cascades National Park http://www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/camping.htm and the great loop trip http://www.cascadeloop.com/index.php?page_id=218 you can take. If you’re interested, you start the drive from I-5 an hour north of Seattle at Burlington following Hwy 20 east over the mountains to the Methow Valley to Hwy 97 where you turn south and follow the Columbia river to Lake Chelan. From the lake you drive a little further south on 97 to Hwy 2 near Wenatchee and head back west over the mountains (Leavenworth being the most noted town along the way) to arrive in the eastside Seattle burbs.
A fantastic way to spend a week or two or just a few days in the wilds of WA. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Happy trails to you!
Oh thank you for that link!! We are rushing to the coast so won’t be able to do it this time around, but that’s exactly the kind of loop that intrigues me. It’s added to the list!!
Great write-up and photos of an area we really love..especially the barns.…I am curious about one thing when we were in Joseph there was a sign at the entrance that had something to do with visiting hell or had the word hell in it…was wondering if it was still there…
and when you go back to theta area you really need to do South East Washington too…including Walla Walla…the waterfall and the Palouse…they are right up your alley…
The sign you’re thinking about is the at the entrance to town and the exact words are “This Little Town Is Heaven To Us. Don’t Drive Like Hell Thru It” Joseph, OR
Definitely want to make it to the Paulouse area at some point. Knowing our pace of travel we’ll need at least 2 weeks to explore it.
Joyce Snyder says
Thanks for all the Wallowa information! We are hoping to travel to the area next summer. Been there before but in a cabin and many years ago. What route did you take into Joseph? I remember a very mountainous, windy road coming from the Lewiston, Idaho area in our truck. Beautiful, but don’t think we would want to take that route in the motorhome. Thank you!
We came in (and left) from Oregon side (I84 to I82). Super easy and no problem. Haven’t tried to access form Idaho side. You can always see our travel route in “The Journey” section where I keep up-to-date travel maps on every trip we do. Click here: https://www.wheelingit.us/the-journey/
Joyce Snyder says
Thank you! You put out such good information. Joyce