Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.
Oregon has many geotourism spots, one right off state highway 82 in eastern Oregon outside of Joseph. Named in Nez Perce after the tribe that summered at the edge of the lake, the county’s newest park is called Iwetemlaykin (ee-weh-TEMM-lye-kinn).
From the parking lot, follow the trail that winds up the glacial moraine and you’ll quickly reach a remote and tranquil place. The trail is less than a mile long overall, but feels longer as it meanders through the grasslands and along waterways with likely wildlife encounters. Within minutes you’ll reach a reflecting pond with views of Chief Joseph Mountain worthy of a strenuous all-day hike.
Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site is a convenient new place to encounter nature, history, culture. The 62-acre park is a joint triumph for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, the Nez Perce tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Colville and the Oregon State Parks. To the Native Americans, this is a sacred place. For everyday visitors, it feels timeless and one can imagine Nez Perce pulling salmon from the Wallowa River flowing nearby. Take the easy-access trail to the tops of the moraine that contains the lake and visit the Old Chief Joseph Gravesite. This is the Nez Perce National Historic Site and the beginning of the Nee-Me-Poo National Historic Trail that commemorates the Nez Perce’s flight from the Wallowas over 130 years ago.
With so many native heritage sites and scenic wilderness to explore sites you'll want to spend a few days. Book your stay at a member inn of the Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild in Joseph, Oregon.