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Wallowa Lake Tramway facts for kids

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Wallowa Lake Tramway
A gondola begins its descent from Mount Howard. Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa Valley are to the right.
Tramway from top of Mount Howard with Wallowa Lake in the background
Status Operational
Character Recreational
Location 59919 Wallowa Lake Highway
Joseph, Oregon
Country United States
Coordinates 45°15′49″N 117°10′51″W / 45.26355°N 117.1809°W / 45.26355; -117.1809Coordinates: 45°15′49″N 117°10′51″W / 45.26355°N 117.1809°W / 45.26355; -117.1809
Termini Mount Howard
Elevation lowest:  4,450 feet (1,360 m)
highest: 8,150 feet (2,480 m)
No. of stations 2
Construction begin 1968
Open 1970
Carrier capacity 4
Operating times mid-May until early October
Trip duration 15 minutes
Technical features
Aerial lift type Mono-cable gondola detachable
Line length 19,300 feet (5,900 m)
No. of support towers 25
Installed power 150 h.p.

The Wallowa Lake Tramway is an aerial cable gondola lift near Joseph, Oregon, in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest of the United States, named for Wallowa Lake. The tram runs from the floor of the Wallowa Valley to the top of Mount Howard. It travels to an elevation of 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level and allows for views of the Eagle Cap Wilderness area and the rest of the Wallowa Mountains.


The tramway was built in 1968, and opened for service in 1970. In June 1992, a malfunction caused the evacuation of the lift's passengers who were then flown by helicopter down the mountain, with no injuries reported. This was the first safety incident for the tram. Later that year, the tramway was used to haul fire fighters fighting a forest fire to the top of the mountain. In 1999, tram owners explored expanding the tramway to include a winter resort.


Twenty-five towers are used along the route to support the cables of tramway. The Wallowa Lake Tramway rises 3,700 feet (1,100 m) vertically, starting at the 4,200-foot (1,300 m) level of the lake. At the top of the gondola ride, an elevation of 8,150 feet (2,480 m), is Oregon's highest restaurant, the Alpine Grill. The Tramway runs May through October. It formerly ran on the weekends in winter for skiing and snowshoeing. The four-person gondolas take fifteen minutes to make a one-way trip.

The tram is the steepest four-person gondola in North America, ending at the 8,256-foot (2,516 m) peak of Mount Howard. The tram is operated on 115 acres (0.47 km2) of land leased from the Forest Service through a special national forest permit. At the summit one can view wildlife, and wildflowers in an alpine meadow. Parts of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho are visible from the summit. Two miles (3 km) of hiking trails are available.

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