SP Campground Review – Wallowa Lake State Park, Joseph, OR
A popular & scenic state park campground at the base of the Eagle Cap Mountains by Wallowa Lake ~6 miles from Joseph in NE OR.
- Site Quality = 4/5
Consistently decent site quality here. The campground is set slightly back from Wallowa Lake and has 5 main loops (A through E) containing a mix of back-in and pull-through sites. Hookups are either full (30Amp/water/sewer, $30/night) or none (primitive or tent, $20/night). Sites are paved, mostly nicely flat (a few not so much) with a grassy “sitting area” containing picnic table and fire pit. Most sites are amongst the trees, but there are some sunnier sites and a very few (sites A17, A19, A21, A23, A23b) have slices of lake views. Overall we found the pull-through sites to be more spacious (and have larger “sitting areas”) than the back-in’s, some of which were tighter together than we’d like, but most of the sites were fairly well-spaced and pleasant. Also most of the “tent” (non-hookup) sites were large enough to accommodate RV’s with the exception of Loop D where the road was narrower and the campsites at direct right-angles to the road (= not easy access for bigger rigs). So, Loop D is the only one I would *not* recommend for big rigs.
- Facilities = 4.5/5
Very good facilities here. The campground has several buildings with flush toilets & spacious warm showers (they get a slight ding for having those annoying spray-heads & push-buttons, but the button provides decent time). There is also a small on-site laundromat (only $1 for wash & dry). In addition there is a large on-site Marina (with kayak rentals & free WiFi) by the lake as well as several large, grassy day-use areas and an on-site playground (for the kiddies).
- Location = 5/5
Very nice location here. The campground is right at the base of the Wallowa Mountain (and Eagle Cap Wilderness) range, so you have mountains in the background, with beautiful Wallowa Lake in the front. The Wallowa Tramway is only ~1 mile away and hiking trails into the Eagle Cap Wilderness are nearby too. Lastly, you are only 6 miles from the lovely little town of Joseph and all it has to offer. It’s a great base to explore the lake area and the surrounding region.
- Pet Friendliness = 5/5
This is an excellent place for doggie. Good space to hang out in camp and LOTS of space to hike around the state park including the day-use areas and trails, all of which are dog-friendly. There is easy access to the lake and even a huge (with trails) official off-leash area next to the Marina (the first time I’ve seen something like that in a state park). Poo bags are stocked all around the park.
Overall Rating = 4.6
BONUS ALERT = Camp right at the base of the Wallowa Mountains by Wallowa Lake!
Summary: When we came to explore the Wallowa’s we knew right away we wanted to stay at the state park. Located right at the base of the gorgeous Wallowa Mountains (and the Eagle Cap Wilderness) and on the banks of Wallowa Lake, the setting really couldn’t be any better. We definitely weren’t disappointed in our choice. The State Park is a large area surrounded by lots of nature (several huge, grassy day-use areas), the gorgeous lake (incl. full-use Marina with kayak rentals) and several cute eateries in the next-door “Village”. Sites are a mix of either paved pull-through or back-in, full hookup (30Amp/water/sewer) or primitive and offer nice, grassy sitting areas with picnic tables and fire pits. Most are in tree’d areas although a few offer sunnier spots. Mostly separation is good, especially for the pull-though sites (we loved our site B5) although some of the back-in sites are closer than we’d like. Location is also great. You are only ~1 mile from the Wallowa Tramway & the main hiking trails into the Eagle Cap Wilderness, a mere 6 miles from super-cute Joseph and easy drives to see all the main attractions in the area. The only dings? This is a POPULAR state park and gets booked out (and very busy!!) most of summer. We reserved our site several months ago, and if you come during July/Aug reservations are a *must*. While we were there (mid-June) the weekdays were fairly quiet, but the weekends did get busy and I’ve heard some people describe this place as a “zoo” in summer. The other ding is that there is ZERO cell signal inside the park. Because of its location at the base of several 9,000 ft high mountains, the state park is in a total dead zone. We got achingly slow 1X (only enough to text and do basic email really) on Verizon and nothing at all on ATT, even with boosting. There is free (and very good) public WiFi at the Marina by the lake and good cell signal (plus lots more WiFi points) in Joseph, but don’t expect anything at your campsite. For this reason I think this park is best enjoyed slightly off-season or, if internet is important to you, for shorter stays. We LOVED our time here, and thoroughly enjoyed the nature and beautiful lake, but if we come back for a longer stay I think we’ll go to one of the private parks near town.
Extra Info: VERY POOR internet/cell signal. We were only able to get 1X on Verizon (enough to send/receive texts and some email, but not much more) and nothing at all on ATT, even with boosting. 121 full-hookup (30Amp/water/sewer = $30/night) sites, 89 primitive (non-hookup = $20/night) sites, 2 Yurts ($42/night) all reservable online (reservations highly recommended in summer!). On-site dump station & water spigots around the campground.