During our trip to Joseph, Oregon last summer we made sure to stop at several places we hadn’t experienced before. We wanted to pack in a few extra little walks and a nice, short one is Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site. Iwetemlaykin is the Nez Perce name for this area of the Wallowa Lake basin and is pronounced ee-weh-TEMM-lye-kinn which translates to “at the edge of the lake.” This is part of the ancestral homeland of the Nez Perce Tribe, and is a sacred place to the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. They ask that visitors be respectful of the space and take time to reflect on the importance of the land. Standing there you can’t help but feel awe struck by what lies before you as you climb the short but steep hill from the parking area.
The Wallowa Mountains are your backdrop as you walk across grassy lands, dotted with wild flowers and creeks. The trails in the area are quite short and might (if you really try) net you about 2 miles. The main trail is flat and there are no drop offs or scary bits for the littlest walkers.
We enjoyed the quite as the wind made the grass dance and we watched the deer grazing in the meadow. We were told you might also see fox, bear and raptors. Our walk took us up to Knight Pond, which was dug out by the Knight family as irrigation for their homestead. It is a picturesque place with a bench where one can relax and take in the amazing vistas that surround you.
The property is adjacent to a Nez Perce National Historical Park, site of Old Chief Joseph Gravesite and Cemetery, so tying the two sites together for kids is a great idea especially if you are explaining the history of the area to them and the struggles of the Nez Perce people.
One last suggestion I have is to let your kiddos lose with a camera to see what they come back with. Here are a few of my favorites that the Lad took during our walk below. During your visit to Joseph, make sure you stop in and have a walk.