There doesn’t seem to be much information about Blue Hole out there, but it’s actually a pretty simple place to get to!

Now don’t get confused, if you’ve heard of Tamolitch or the Blue Pool before then you should know that’s the same place as Blue Hole.

It’s a gorgeous pool of crystal blue water tucked away in the northeastern corner of Oregon in a place called Eagle Cap Wilderness. Sprawling over 360,000 acres, this pristine haven is part of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest where ancient Native American tribes once wandered its dense forests and alpine meadows.

Over the centuries, the wilderness has witnessed gold rushes, pioneering settlers, and now, modern-day explorers looking for a peaceful slice of heaven.

Getting to Blue Hole is as simple as getting on the Imnaha River Trail and walking 2 miles. As long as you take the right turns, you’ll reach Blue Hole!

From Trailhead to Blue Hole

We’ll cover how to get to the trailhead and what to see along the way in a moment, but first let’s figure out how to get to Blue Hole from the Imnaha River Trail trailhead.

Luckily the hike follows the designated trail into the Eagle Cap Wilderness and you don’t have to do any bushwhacking.

Walk about 0.6 miles, until you see a faint split in the trail. Stay left.

Once you’ve walked 1.3 miles, you’ll cross the Wilderness boundary before entering a moist forest about a quarter-mile later.

At 1.8 miles, there’s a small stream crossing (sometimes bigger if the beavers are busy).

Right after the stream you’ll encounter rocky outcrops and the well-named Blue Hole to your left. There is abundant camping in developed campgrounds nearby for those wanting to dry-camp instead of sleep in a comfy RV.

Getting To The Trailhead

The journey to the Blue Hole in the Eagle Cap Wilderness can be as much an adventure as the destination itself. While all the best road trips start from our store in Seattle, w’ell assume you’ve already driven down to the town of La Grande because it’s the closest “city” near the trail.

Starting from La Grande, a bustling town steeped in Oregon’s rich history, take the OR-82 E for 3 hours to Indian Crossing Campground and Trailhead. This scenic highway will weave you through the Grande Ronde Valley, with its picturesque farmlands stretching out on either side. As you continue, the Wallowa Mountains begin to rise on the horizon, often referred to as the ‘Alps of Oregon’ for their striking resemblance to the famed European range.

For those journeying in an RV, there are some specific accommodations to consider. The road, while mostly well-maintained, can be winding in sections. It’s always wise to ensure your vehicle’s brakes and tires are in top condition before embarking. Several RV-friendly campsites and parks dot the route, such as the Wallowa Lake State Park, which makes for a perfect rest stop. Here, you can enjoy the serene views of Wallowa Lake, set against the backdrop of the majestic mountains.

Preparations for the Trip

Before diving into the heart of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, some preparations are required. First and foremost, if you’re venturing into the wilderness areas, a permit is essential. The self-issue Wilderness Visitor Permit is available at trailhead registration boxes for free, though there is a $5 parking fee. This permit is both a means to understand visitor use patterns and an educational tool for minimizing impacts in the wilderness.

The best seasons to explore the Blue Hole are late spring to early fall, with July and August offering the most favorable weather conditions. However, always check the local weather forecast, as mountain conditions can be unpredictable and change rapidly. For those trekking, bear-proof containers are a recommended precaution, as the wilderness is home to black bears. Lastly, ensure you carry a reliable map of the area and perhaps a GPS device. Cell service can be spotty, and it’s always wise to be self-reliant in such remote regions.

The Captivating Allure of Blue Hole

Nestled deep within the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the Blue Hole is exactly what you’d expect from the name – a blue hole. It’s a section of the Imnaha River that is essentially a private pool with great spots for camping nearby.

The surrounding topography only adds to its magnificence. Majestic fir and pine trees stand sentinel around its banks, their evergreen boughs rustling softly with the mountain winds, creating a peaceful soundscape. On days when the sun is out, the water sparkles with a thousand glints, making it appear as if stars have descended to take a rest from the night sky. And then there are the granite cliffs, worn by time and weather, that rise dramatically on one side, their mossy gray and white facades contrast beautifully with the blue water below.

Can You Jump In Blue Hole?

The answer is yes, you can… but whether or not you should is a different question.

The water is crystal clear, so you don’t have to worry about hitting anything hidden in the water. Plus you don’t have to worry about any weird animals in the water because it is ICE COLD.

However cold you’re thinking… it’s colder.

Having grown up jumping in cold springs, I promise that the water at Blue Pool is colder than at a normal cold spring. So cold in fact that some unfortunate hikers have actually died due to jumping straight in and being unable to handle the cold. Now if you don’t start by jumping off the nearby cliff into the middle of the pool you will be fine, but it’s a strong reminder that the water isn’t something to play around with.

Other Trails Nearby Blue Pool

  • Matterhorn Trail

    Starting from the Wallowa Lake Trailhead, this 7.5-mile (one way) trail offers a slightly more strenuous hike, taking adventurers through pristine forests and up to one of the highest points in Oregon. The panoramic views at the summit, encompassing the entirety of Eagle Cap Wilderness, make the effort entirely worth it.

  • Eagle Cap Summit Trail

    Eagle Cap Summit Trail offers an odyssey through the heart of the wilderness. Beginning at the Two Pan Trailhead, this challenging journey covers a distance of approximately 20 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of around 3,700 feet. The trail meanders through dense evergreen forests, gradually unveiling vast meadows adorned with wildflowers during the summer months.

  • Hurwal Divide Trail

    A moderately challenging hike, this 16-mile round trip trail is characterized by its breathtaking views of the Chief Joseph Mountain and the Hurricane Creek Valley. Its relatively gentle inclines make it a favorite for families looking for a full-day adventure.

  • Fraser Lake Trail

    A less-traveled path, this 8-mile round trip trail offers serenity and a chance to experience the quieter facets of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Leading to a secluded alpine lake surrounded by meadows, it’s an idyllic spot for a peaceful retreat.

Each of these trails, with their unique offerings, ensures that every adventurer, whether a novice or a seasoned hiker, finds a journey tailored to their heart’s desire in the vast expanse of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

Activities for the Whole Family

Fishing at Blue Hole

The clear, deep waters of the Blue Hole are not just a treat for the eyes, but also for those with a penchant for fishing. The cold water still contains brook and rainbow trout, it offers anglers a unique chance to fish in ice cold waters. Ensure you have a valid Oregon fishing license, and always refer to the latest Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife guidelines to stay informed about catch limits and size restrictions.

Picnic Hotspots

If you’re carrying a basket full of your favorite snacks, there are several serene spots around the Blue Hole to lay down a picnic blanket. The grassy knolls on the southern bank provide a panoramic view of the water, framed by towering trees. Alternatively, the flat rocky outcrops on the western edge give a closer communion with the water, letting families dine with the sound of lapping waves in the background. Wherever you choose, the unspoiled beauty of the wilderness ensures a memorable experience.

Nature’s Classroom: Flora, Fauna, and Stargazing

The Eagle Cap Wilderness is a living classroom, teeming with lessons in biology, botany, and astronomy. The dense forests house creatures like black bears, mule deer, and elks. Bird enthusiasts might spot the mountain bluebird, Clark’s nutcracker, or even the occasional golden eagle soaring overhead.
Plant lovers will revel in identifying various alpine wildflowers that paint the meadows in vibrant hues during spring and summer. From the delicate blue of lupines to the fiery red of Indian paintbrushes, the diversity is astounding.

As night falls, the lack of city lights offers a celestial extravaganza. Gazing upwards, families can spot constellations, watch meteor showers, or even witness the ethereal beauty of the Milky Way stretching across the sky. It’s a perfect opportunity to introduce young ones to the wonders of the universe, with the sky as your guidebook.

Finding Magpies On Vacation

In a world that constantly changes, there’s a profound serenity in places that stand still, untouched by time. The Eagle Cap Wilderness is one such place, where nature’s grandeur remains pristine, offering solace to those seeking an escape from the mundane.

Every journey taken, every trail explored, and every sunset witnessed becomes a cherished memory in the Eagle Cap. The laughter shared on a picnic, the thrill of a fish caught, the hushed whispers under a starlit sky; these are the timeless moments that linger long after the journey ends.

So, why wait?

There’s an entire world of wonder waiting for you in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Embark on your adventure with all the comforts of home. Rent an RV from NW Adventure Rentals and set out to create memories that will last a lifetime, in a place where time stands still.