Tombstone and Traverse Lakes

Tombstone Lake

  • Difficult (to Traverse Lake)
  • 13.4 miles round trip
  • 2290 feet elevation gain
  • Open mid-July through October
  • Use: hikers, horses
  • Difficult (to Tombstone Lake)
  • 17.8 miles round trip
  • 3550 feet elevation gain

Snowy crags surround Tombstone and Traverse Lakes like castle walls, yet within these alpine fortresses are delightful gardens—gentle lakeshore meadows of pink heather and white phlox. Crowds aren’t likely, and not just because these lakes lie on the less-visited, southern side of the Wallowa Mountains. The price of admission to tour these castle gardens is a bit steep: long trails with lots of switchbacks.

Because the gardens are so fragile, campsites must be at least 100 feet from any lakeshore, horses may not be grazed within 200 feet of lakes, and fires are banned within a quarter mile of Tombstone or Traverse Lakes. The use of snags for firewood is prohibited, and downed wood is scarce. Group size is limited to 12.

From La Grande, take …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon.