Joseph, Oregon

downtown Joseph Oregon

Joseph is the hidden jewel among Oregon’s treasury of great towns. Resplendent snow-capped peaks provide a picture-perfect backdrop to a lineup of Old West-style buildings further distinguished by abundant colorful landscaping and majestic life-size bronzes. The arrow-straight main street aims directly toward nearby Wallowa Lake and the alpine grandeur of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. These attractions and the surrounding national forest provide endless ways for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the full-four-season climate. The town’s remote location miles from major cities has kept the population small in this isolated outback.

Early settlers in the late 1800s named the town after Chief Joseph, the renowned American Indian who especially loved this region. Agriculture, timber, art, and tourism have always been the key industries. The town’s first bronze foundry opened in 1982, providing jobs for artists drawn here by the inspiring setting (which has resulted in the nation’s most elaborate collection of fine public bronze art on permanent display along the main street).

The growing selection of specialty shops, studios and art galleries, restaurants and inns is delightfully individualized. Nearby, unlimited recreation opportunities include all kinds of day-use sports like boating, hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, river running and rock climbing in summer. More exotic options include parasailing, llama treks, multiday (hunting or fishing) pack trips, or wildlife photography in the still-pristine high Wallowas.

Top destinations in Oregon's outstanding alpine outback:

The Great Towns of Oregon
Downtown Tram Wallowa Lake Bronze Antler
Eagle Cap Chalets Enterprise House