Located in the northeast corner of Wallowa County, Oregon, Joseph Canyon derives its anglo name from Chief Joseph. He is believed to have been born here. The Nez Perce name means “long, rough canyon,” which indeed it is. 2000 feet deep, formed by basalt flows that are part of the Columbia River Basalt Group, the canyon served as the wintering grounds for the Joseph Band of the Nez Perce. They would leave their higher elevation summer grounds in the Wallowa Valley for this warmer climate. The Nez Perce tribe purchased this land in the mid nineties, and have opened it for public use.
You reach it from Hwy 3, heading north from Enterprise. Just past the turnoff for Flora, turn right on the Paradise road. At the junction with the Rye Ridge road, turn right and drive until the road ends at a locked ranch gate. Park on the left. The trail begins on the right side. It is exceptionally steep down to the bottom, but the views of Joseph Canyon from the bench on the top are wonderful. The bench is about a quarter mile straight ahead from the sign Bring a book, sit on the bench, and listen to sound of silence.