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Joseph, Oregon

Joseph, Oregon

I first heard of Joseph, Oregon from my sister-in-law, who grew up in this great little town snuggled into the base of the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon. She spoke fondly of the town and described the beauty of nearby Wallowa Lake. When I finally got the chance to visit years later, it did not disappoint.

I visited the first time on a motorcycle ride from Idaho. I have repeated that ride a couple times since, and I have driven back a few more times just to take photos. The photos in this blog post are drawn from several different visits in the last couple years and will represent slightly different times of the year.

Getting there…

If you are coming from the Boise area like I was, there is the long way and the longer way. I like the longer way. The quickest route is to head up I84 to La Grande, Oregon, and take Highway 82 for an additional 70 miles to Joseph. The longer route will take a couple extra hours, but it is so worth the time. Just head west on I84 (or Highway 52 from Emmett or Old Highway 30 from Middleton) to catch Highway 95 north. Take 95 to Cambridge, and turn northwest on Highway 78. Cross into Oregon at the dam below Brownlee Reservoir and drive up Hells Canyon Scenic Byway.

Fall ride on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway in Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

Take the time for the short detour to Hells Canyon Overlook. You will be glad that you did!

Hell’s Canyon Overlook on Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

The road lives up to its “scenic byway” designation. It truly is a scenic ride into Wallowa County, and it is a great way to see wildlife.

Deer along Hells Canyon Scenic Byway - Photo by Ron Huckins

Staying there…

There are many options for lodging in and around Joseph and nearby Enterprise. It can get very busy in the peak seasons, so check things out well ahead of a visit.

On our latest visit we stayed at an outstanding B&B, the Dobbin House (see the link to the blog post below). It was a great choice. You won’t be disappointed if you give it a try. We are looking forward to coming back again in the near future and hope to spend some extended time camping at Wallowa Lake State Park or near the Eagle Cap Wilderness. All of these destinations are just a few miles from town.

The Dobbin House B &B near Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

Being there…

Welcome to Joseph, Oregon! We found the people to be friendly, unassuming, and in every way welcoming (or at least very tolerant) of tourists, bikers, hikers, and other non-locals. The town is very dependent on its visitors, and they treat you like honored guests.

Joseph, Oregon visitor center and Joseph bronze sculpture - Photo by Ron Huckins

The Wallowa country is the ancestral home of the Nez Perce and the current home of hardy ranchers, farmers, entrepreneurs, and artisans. It has that old time, small town feel that is quickly disappearing in this country.

Taking things a bit slower in Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

Nez Perce heritage…

In many ways the town pays homage to this area’s first inhabitants, the Nez Perce, and to the tribal leader from whom it takes its name, Joseph. One time when I was in town there were tipis and Native American artifacts on display to compliment the incredible bronze sculptures that are permanent residents along the main street through town.

Nez Perce bronze sculptures in Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

Nez Perce Warrior bronze sculpture at the post office - Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

Pioneer heritage…

Today’s inhabitants of the Wallowa country consist of the new comers seeking a piece of paradise in the mountains and prairies and the old timers preserving a way of life with deep ties to the land and to those that settled here after the Nez Perce. This pioneer heritage is also displayed in the bronze works along Main Street.

This is one of my favorites!

“Attitude Adjustment” bronze sculpture - Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

Take a look at the incredible details in this sculpture…

“Attitude Adjustment” bronze sculpture - Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

“Attitude Adjustment” bronze sculpture - Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

Another cowboy the ladies seemed to like…

“All Around Cowboy” sculpture in Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

Valley Bronze of Oregon…

For me, the bronze sculptures were the star of the show as I walked up and down Main Street. The foundry in Joseph has been producing bronze art since 1982.

Valley Bronze of Oregon Gallery in Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

The city has done such a great job of making the sculptures part of the landscape. These works of art are quite literally the ambassadors of town.

Grab a coffee and a chocolate… then sit a while or take a stroll.

Be sure to stop by Arrowhead Chocolates for one of the best coffees you’ll ever drink. The chocolates look pretty awesome too. I can honestly say their Mexican Mocha is the best I’ve ever had. It is made from fresh chocolate made on site, and it had a spicy bite to it. It was smooth, rich, and decadent. You’ll find it in the old Wallowa County Stage Stop building (though that sign is no longer on the building).

Arrowhead Chocolates in the old Wallowa County Stage Stop building - Photo by Ron Huckins

Arrowhead Chocolates in Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Adelia Huckins

Eating there…

The Dog Spot

There are quite a few places to grab a bite to eat in Joseph, and it is less than 10 miles to Enterprise for even more options. Our B&B hosts suggested that we try a very unique little restaurant disguised as a pet themed boutique… yep, really. We were very glad we followed their advice. The food was superb! Welcome to "The Dog Spot.”

The Dog Spot… really good food in downtown Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

The Chef is one of kind, and the service is both attentive and laid back casual. You will be treated to fusion cuisine fit for any gourmet. The menu has an international flair and changes often. The simple menu might feature German, French, South American, Chinese, Cajun, or Thai inspired dishes (as it was the night we ate there). And everything is made from scratch! You might even be serenaded.

Look for the sign on Main Street

The Dog Spot - Treats for Pets and People -Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

La Laguna - Homemade Mexican Cuisine

We also ate lunch at La Laguna. It is a family owned Mexican restaurant that is also right on Main Street. I was hungry, so I got distracted and forgot to take any photos of our meal. Nonetheless, the food was delicious, and there was plenty of it! It was a slow afternoon, so we got to visit with our friendly and very entertaining waiter… maybe owner. He convinced us to try a house specialty topping made from a secret family recipe, Lagunita’s Smokey Oil Sauce. Seriously, you should try this stuff! It is adds a little bit of heat and a lot flavor to most anything.

Local specialty… Lagunita’s Smoky Oil Sauce - Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

You can even order it online through the restaurant’s web site. Check it out…

More bronze…

With your hunger satisfied, there is plenty of time to check out some more bronze sculptures, or maybe you will want to schedule that tour of the foundry. One thing is for sure, if you spend any time around Joseph, you will see plenty of wildlife… even right in town. So, it is only fitting that wildlife is reflected in some of the bronze sculptures as well.

Bronze Cougar - Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

ROUS… the real deal

I was talking to a local about the many deer that you see wandering around town, sometimes right down Main Street. I was amazed by how unafraid or even comfortable they seemed. “Ya….,” he said, “Some around here call them ROUS.” “What is that?” I asked. “Rodents Of Unusual Size!” he replied.

Apparently these friendly neighborhood deer can make it a little difficult to have a garden, flower beds, or even ornamental shrubs. To the deer these things appear to be nothing more than an enticing buffet.

Here are a couple of the town’s residents enjoying watching the people go by.

Historic buildings, beautiful works of art, interesting shops, good food, and wildlife all in a beautiful, uncluttered mountain setting… what is not to like about this place?

Some of what you will see…

Or maybe you just want to do a little shopping…

You are bound to find something you like.

This is a sneak peak at one of Joseph’s biggest attractions… Wallowa Lake.

Wallowa Lake near Joseph, Oregon - Photo by Ron Huckins

It will take a separate post to do this beautiful lake justice! Stay tuned…

New Year 2019

New Year 2019