Quiet Reflections

Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site

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Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site

Not all sites administered by Oregon State Parks spotlight camping, swimming, and other outdoor recreation. Some, like Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site, are preserved and managed because of their unique historical importance to Oregonians.
Iwetemlaykin (pronounced Ee-weh-TEMM-lye-kinn) is one such place. A rolling grassland nestled just south of Joseph, Iwetemlaykin is a sacred place to area tribes. Its name translates to, “at the edge of the lake.”

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department opened the 62-acre site in 2009. The State paid $4.1 million for the property, funded by a Lottery grant and donations from three tribes: the Nez Perce, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. Now open to the public, Iwetemlaykin is preserved as a place of respectful contemplation and reflection, in keeping with its character from the days before western settlement. It is a sacred site, now protected from development, and open to all.

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A manager for OPRD being interviewed
Unlike State Recreation Areas, State Heritage Sites are a little bit different. Iwetemlaykin is set aside as a place for contemplation and reflection rather than a place where people come to camp and play.
— Matt Rippee, Central Park Services Manager, OPRD
Boat dock at Wallowa Lake

Wallowa Lake State Park

Iwetemlaykin lies just north of Wallowa Lake. A short ten-minute drive to the lake’s south shore will take visitors to another not-to-be-missed eastern Oregon destination: Wallowa Lake State Park. Hiking, camping, fishing and other watersports are there for the asking — or simply take in the stunning scenery of the surrounding peaks of the Wallowa Mountains.

Photo by Gary Halvorson

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Horse statue in Joseph, Oregon

Joseph, the Jewel of Northeast Oregon

It’s probably impossible for most of us to visit Iwetemlaykin without passing through the town of Joseph — and that, as it turns out, is a very good thing! Nestled at the base of the Wallowa Mountains, Joseph offers a thriving arts and food scene with an old west flair. It also serves as a gateway to Wallowa Lake, the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the Hells Canyon Recreation Area. Don’t miss Joseph!

Photo by Gary Halvorson

Plan Your Visit