Discover the freewheeling openness and diverse history of the Zumwalt Prairie & Alder Slope by bicycle!
Cycle Oregon Connections highlights the diversity of the Oregon experience as shared by local communities. In association with the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland and Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center, our Wallowa County Connections features rides for paved and gravel cycling with an emphasis on the inclusive history and businesses of the region.
Connections - Interactive Map
Use the tabs under the map to select/deselect options and click on individual routes to see a preview of route details. Click through to see the route in full detail or scroll below to find more information on each route prior to your selection. If you organize and share your routes with Ride With GPS Collections we have these routes grouped into a Collection here.
Connect to Wallowa County
Land acknowledgment reminds us that we are on settled indigenous land and gives visibility to the people, past and present, who call this their homeland. Looking forward, acknowledgement expresses support for indigenous movements of sovereignty and self-determination. We recognize and acknowledge the indigenous people of this land: the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce).
Nez Perce lived in reciprocity with the land here until 1877 when, under pressure from the U.S. Government, Chief Joseph and the walwáama band of Nez Perce were forcibly removed. What followed was a violent and months-long military pursuit of fleeing families. The people of Wallowa were eventually captured and punished for their desire to be free when they were exiled to the Colville Reservation in northern Washington. Today, dispersed tribal members again steward this land as Board members for the 320-acre Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland, as landowners, and in partnership with regional organizations and agencies.
Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland Center
“The Land Wants Its People Back“
As part of our work to develop the Connections program for Wallowa County we took a look at where we’ve been most connected in the region over the years and that led us to the door of the Nez Perce Wallowa Homelands and Visitor Center earlier this summer. The visitor center is at the corner of Storie and 2nd Streets right across from the Post Office in downtown Wallowa. From here it’s a short walk or ride just a few blocks north to the Homeland grounds. Grants from the Cycle Oregon Fund helped the tribal-led nonprofit acquire the 320 acres of their homeland here as a place for descendants to gather and for others to learn. The Visitor Center is colorful and bright, and highlights the vibrant Nez Perce culture of yesterday and today. Read the full feature and learn more on our blog here.
Annual Tamkaliks Celebration and Friendship Potluck: July 22nd-24th, 2022 – Hosted by the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland for over 30 years, this weekend-long event includes social and competitive dancing, vendors, camping and special events. Culminates in wálásit (7 Drums) services and a community meal including traditional foods like salmon, buffalo and elk (bring a dish to share).
Chief Joseph Days Encampment and Friendship Feast: July 30th, 2022 – Always the Saturday of Chief Joseph Days, which is held annually on the last full weekend in July. Located at the encampment pavilion adjacent to the rodeo grounds in Joseph. Nez Perce, Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla and other regional tribal members parade through town in regalia, followed by a shared feast including traditional foods (bring a dish to share), song and dance.
Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center
“Inclusivity Improves Historical Accuracy”
The Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center in Joseph, Oregon preserves and promotes the history of Maxville, Oregon, a logging town from 1923-1933 thirteen miles north of Wallowa. Now a ghost town, Maxville was once home to a thriving community of 400 including a segregated population of Black loggers, and their families, recruited from the American South despite Oregon’s restrictive and racist exclusionary laws at the time. The MHIC, founded in 2008 and now working to preserve and steward the historical townsite, has partnered with us and the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland to develop a collection of cycling routes that put riders in connection with the diverse history of Wallowa County. Read the full feature and learn more on our blog here.
Wallowa Mountains Bicycle Club
Saddle up for the whiteboard-famous WMBC Tuesday ride, start locations alternate between Enterprise and Joseph each week, or discover one of their weekend routes by road or mountain bike. The club also hosts fun-by-bike events such as scavenger hunts and volunteers regularly in the community. While still a relatively new club WMBC members have long commitments to the region and have been making significant progress in developing new cycling opportunities for locals and guests alike. A recent project to build a bikepark in Enterprise is picking up speed. Give them a follow on Instagram and Facebook, you’ll be inspired by their motto, “Let’s Ride Bikes!”
Rental bikes are available at the Kokanee Inn in Joseph, Oregon. (Innkeeper, Eric Makela, is a WMBC board member and local riding enthusiast.)
"300 Miles Awheel"
“The year was 1898. William McKinley was in the White House and the Spanish-American war in the newspapers. Baseball wouldn’t hold its World Series for five years and Henry Ford wouldn’t roll out his first Model T for ten; and folks in rural America rarely saw a paved road or an electric light.”
“It was also in the summer of that year that Homer Clark of La Grande, Oregon, feeling ‘desirous to take an outing through Wallowa County in order to see the country’, started out on a remarkable adventure- a 300-mile bicycle trip.”
An excerpt from the foreword 300 Miles Awheel by Bear Creek Press. No longer in print, this 25-page short story tells the incredible 12-day tale of Homer Clark and Hugh Davis as they pedaled across Wallowa County and beyond. Click here to read a PDF of a copy from the Cycle Oregon library.
Bike Friendly Businesses
Oregon is the first state in the nation to create a Bike Friendly Business program (Thanks, Travel Oregon!) and you’ll find several in Wallowa County. This program helps visitors identify business or service providers that offer a range of amenities directed toward the support of bicycle-riding guests. You’ll find the iconic blue and white “Bike Friendly” sign at the entrance of businesses across the state and here in Wallowa County they are:
Bronze Antler Bed & Breakfast – Joseph
Mad Mary’s – Joseph
The Sheep Shed – Joseph
Wallowa Lake Lodge – Joseph
Eagle Cap Chalets – Joseph
Mountain View Motel & RV Park – Joseph
Winding Waters River Expeditions – Joseph
Kokanee Inn – Joseph
The Bookloft – Enterprise
Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce – Enterprise
Wallowa Public Library – Wallowa
Minam Raft & Rentals Shuttle – Wallowa
Featured "CO Connections" Businesses
Wallowa County is home to many friendly local businesses and Connections would not be possible without their support and enthusiasm for visitors. Further, we are grateful for the support and partnership of the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce in the development of this project. The Chamber office is a great resource for all the current happenings, local knowledge, maps and guides; be sure to stop in and get connected.
The Bookloft– Enterprise
An expansive selection of books curated by owners Katy Madrid and Becky Wyland with a focus on local authors, Nez Perce history, and regional history. Inside you’ll find a coffee shop and Wallowa County’s longest-running art gallery. Open early every day, closed Sundays, and be sure to look for the “One Less Car” bike rack out front dedicated to Roger Koepke, 1959-2009
Liza Janes Farm Stands – Enterprise & Joseph
Always open and working on the “good ol’ honor system” two roadside locations offer Wallowa County beef, eggs, produce, honey and more. The farm stands are part of the 6 Ranch, run by 4th generation rancher Liza Jane McAlister, who also includes locally made gifts for sale at each location.
Vali’s Alpine Restaurant– Wallowa Lake
Nestled in tall pines not far from the south shore of Wallowa Lake is a restaurant with a long history in the region. Vali’s is now run by a second generation of the family but still operates on the tradition of serving only one entrée per evening. Their storied menu is nearly unchanged, Sundays are always Schnitzel, but Friday nights see new options. Doughnuts, (oh, yeah, doughnuts!) are available on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Hurricane Coffee– Enterprise
New on the block, literally, is this two-window drive through offering a wide-ranging breakfast menu and premium coffee drinks. Selections like breakfast burritos, French Toast sticks or hash browns make for pocketable ride food as you begin a day’s ride. The friendly staff here make quick work of your order so you can get going. Order online and you’ll be rolling even faster.
La Laguna Mexican Restaurant – Joseph & Enterprise
Angel Zurita was living and working in Boise, Idaho and daydreaming about opening her own restaurant for several years when a chance encounter led her to hear about an opportunity in a town she’d not heard of – Enterprise. Now with two can’t-miss colorful locations La Laguna features her friendly spirit, diverse menu with seasonal specials and even offers a line of take-home salsas. Weather permitting, the patios are the place to be!
M Crow – Lostine
You wouldn’t expect to find such a place in Lostine, Oregon but once you know about it you cannot imagine being anywhere else. This 107–year-old general store has been restored by local artist Tyler Hays in a way that feels both modern and historic at the same time. The mercantile offers everything from snacks and drinks to outdoor supplies to premium denim and ceramics. A pizza restaurant turns out hearty pies and cold pints you can enjoy throughout the building or patio. Linger in the store to play pinball or listen to the in-house radio station.
Reid Creatives – Enterprise
Photography for this project by Jordan Reid.
This is an entirely paved route great for road bikes but suited for any type of bicycle or handcycle. The route is easy to navigate with minimal elevation gain and lots to see along the way. Our route begins and ends at the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center where we encourage you to visit and discover the rich history, contributions and impact of Black Americans in Wallowa County.
This is a mixed-terrain route with several challenging gravel sections but well worth the effort for the unparalleled views. If you love photographing beautiful barns with the Wallowas as a backdrop this ride might just take you all darn day! (Or maybe all barn day…) Our Connections loop takes you from the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center (MHIC) in downtown Joseph, Oregon and you’ll see as far as Idaho and the Seven Devils range, marking the eastern edge of the lands of the walwáama band of Nez Perce (the people of walawa). Rolling mostly flat to downhill for most of the first ⅔ of the route you’ll pedal across the colorful Zumwalt Prairie and tackle most of the route’s climbing across the Alder Slope, an important and bountiful area within the Nez Perce Wallowa homelands.
This mixed-terrain route just might offer its most impressive view right at Mile 1 but keep going, it’s lovely for the remaining twenty. Our start and finish is the Nez Perce Homeland Visitor Center. You will be greeted with Lilóoynin’ ‘éetx páaycix (Glad you’re here) and learn about how the walwaáma (people of wallowa) lived and moved throughout the region you’ve ridden. Cycle Oregon is grateful to this community for their enthusiasm to share the stories of the land they encourage us to ride through today. You’ll also find several Maxville historical locations along this relatively flat route.
A challenging yet scenic route that is well over half gravel riding and stretches from bronze foundries on the outskirts of Enterprise and across the Zumwalt Prairie to the Nez Perce Homeland in Wallowa, Oregon. From here, the route returns along the Wallowa River and then Lostine River before entry into a secluded valley traversed by Wade Gulch Road. This challenging section loosely follows an ancient Nez Perce trail connecting the high and low valleys. This is an inspiring route with historical connection to the Nez Perce and Maxville communities along with breathtaking views of wildlife, the Wallowa Mountains, and spectacular mixed-terrain riding.
This mostly gravel route climbs up Promise Road to the former location of the once bustling logging community and is intended for experienced cyclists. The out-and-back route begins from the site of Lion’s Park in Wallowa, where Maxville’s Black loggers lived following the closure of the town in 1934. Ride the route on its own or add on to one of the Connections routes passing through Wallowa. Be sure to visit the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center in Joseph to learn more about the many cultures who called this region home 100 years ago.
Open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year, the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland is a 320-acre open space featuring a tribal Longhouse and Dance Arbor. This 1.5 mile loop is featured in two of our Connections routes but can be added to any ride or simply ridden on its own allowing time to pause and reflect. Hiking trails lead up the exposed basalt and across the ridge for an unparalleled view of the valley back towards Enterprise and Joseph. From the summit you will understand the Nez Perce name Tamkaliks meaning “From where you can see the mountains”.
Thank you Travel Oregon, Ride With GPS, Wallowa Chamber of Commerce, Wallowa Mountains Bicycle Club and Reid Creatives for your enthusiasm and assistance in developing this project. Let’s ride!