In an alignment of perfect circumstance - climate, geology, and eons of time - converged to create the great moraines that form Wallowa Lake, a special place that awes everyone who first lays eyes upon it. Referred to as “The Crown Jewel”, “The Sapphire in a Sea of Astounding Landscapes”, and the “WOW of the Wallowas.” Wallowa Lake has inspired passionate expression in words that for many ultimately fall short. You’ll find its iconic image featured in more articles on the area because it is the most loved destination in Northeast Oregon. When you drive into the Wallowa Valley for the first time, the scene is a breathtaking experience in and of itself, but it’s at the end of the road where real treasure is found. This ribbon lake, with its crystal-clear, deep blue water and majestic mountain backdrop, creates yet another picture-postcard moment that few with a camera can resist. Add to that the crisp mountain air, the brilliant night sky, the emerald green valley and the warmth of its people and you have an experience that’s hard to find- no matter where you travel. And, there is an energy to this place that uplifts spirits and can even heal broken souls. Visitors often remark that being here feels like home, and for many it’s an experience that’s expressed in spiritual terms. Once you visit, there’s no going back- a piece of your heart will always remain. The entire area between Hells Canyon and The Eagle Cap, including Wallowa Lake, was considered in the early 90’s for National Park designation. Wallowa Lake and the surrounding area is a truly magnificent place, like nowhere on Earth. This is a great place for families, with many activities that appeal to young and old alike. Take a spectacular tram ride and spend a lazy day strolling at the top of the world. Take the kids and play some miniature golf, ride a horse or play bumper boats; the opportunities for quality together-time abound. For many it’s a tradition that dates back generations. The south end of the lake was developed starting in 1923 with an amusement park and the Wonderland Inn, now known as The Wallowa Lake Lodge. During those early days a ferry took people to the other side because there was no road. This historic lodge was featured in 2008 on the PBS series: Great Lodges of the National Parks. With attractions for children, it still has a little of the amusement park air, though most visit now for the sheer natural beauty and to see the lively little art and western town of Joseph. Wallowa Lake is the largest of several glacial cirque lakes in the area. It was formed by repeated periods of glaciation that began some 3 million years ago and ended about 15,000 BC. The glaciers formed high in the Wallowa Mountains around Glacier Lake and moved down the East and West Fork of the Wallowa River. As these glaciers advanced and retreated they carved out the river valleys and carried down rocks and sediment forming the twin and terminal moraines which rise over the lake some 900’. Along the moraine ridges, large granite boulders called ‘erratics’ were left behind, a few as big as cars. The glaciers also deposited boulders across the area around Joseph which was named 'Hah-um-sah-pah', by the Nimiipu (Nez Perce), meaning 'big rocks lying scattered around.’
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