Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe a hundred years ago lamented, “I love that land of Winding Waters more than all the rest of the world”. I would have to agree, its beauty is pristine. This chief fought a valiant battle against the United States but eventually lost his beloved homeland.
I’m in the town of Joseph, near the northeast corner of Oregon where the borders of Washington and Idaho all meet. Directly toward the sunrise, over snow capped peaks, are the Snake River and Hells Canyon, the winding water and gorge that today draw the boundary between Oregon and Idaho. I did what many riverboats struggled to do in the past, and some adventure seeking rafters continue to do today, run the wild and scenic Snake through Hells Canyon.
My trip is with Winding Waters River Expeditions. I’m more than happy to know they have the experience and knowledge to do it safely – seeing the river’s thundering rapids, with a flow nearly twice the volume of the Colorado, is awesome. Unlike some other outfitters doing the Snake, these folks are locals that possess talents and experience not held by national corporations with branches to run multiple rivers throughout the country.However this town has a lot more to offer than access to the scenic canyon. Joseph is also renowned for mixing artisans and cowboys into western chic. Walk the town and see the bronze coexisting with tack shops. Many bronze artists find inspiration from living in one of the most beautiful places on earth and express it through public sculpture.
Whatever you do though, don’t make it just a day trip. Stay a couple nights in a comfy chalet style Bed & Breakfast in the midst of what’s been called Oregon’s Alps at Chandler’s Inn. It has all the creature comforts that vacationers seek. Share a homemade gourmet breakfast with international guests, sleep in comfortable rooms, select a book from the extensive library, or soak in the second story hot tub with great views. And for those business vacationers who must bring some work along with them, they provide a wi-fi connection with the world. The Inn’s proprietors, Syd and Lisa, will definitely pamper you.