In Walla Walla, the outdoors beckon.
Whether you prefer a civilized stroll on a trail near a coffee shop or local brewery, or are on a quest for big views or little wildflowers, or perhaps enjoy waving fields of golden wheat during an afternoon bike ride, there are many opportunities to seek adventure.
The obstacle most of us encounter is how do we find out about the array of opportunities in the area; how do we get there; and what can we expect when we do?
Whether you are new to the area or have lived here for years, there is much to discover. Gwen and Steve Dildine answer these questions on a website they launched in April, 2019 — outsidewallawalla.com. The goal of the site is to showcase outdoor recreation in the Blue Mountain Region.
Avid outdoors people, Steve and Gwen once thought there weren’t many outdoor recreation opportunities in the area. They spent vacations and long weekends traveling the West not realizing they didn’t need to leave the zip code.
They decided to challenge themselves to discover all the ways to enjoy the outdoors within a few hours drive of Walla Walla.
A massive research project and two children later, Outside Walla Walla was born — a website dedicated to “centralizing outdoor recreation information and providing a much needed narrative to each experience so, hopefully, people feel more comfortable engaging with the outdoors.”
They worked with Wonderboy Creative, a local marketing agency, to create a custom website that is continuously updated and extremely user-friendly. Gwen credits them with unlocking all sorts of possibilities for the site.
“They really make this project possible,” Gwen said. “If it were up to us, all of this information would live in a pile of post-it notes at best.”
With more than 100 ways to enjoy the outdoors — from hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, camping, fishing, water sports, to snow sports — they add new places to go all the time.
As a requirement of adding a new opportunity, they say, “It is extremely important to us that we not post anything on the website that we haven’t done ourselves, as we strive to report accurate, comprehensive information.”
Each entry takes several days to research and scout, and a few days to write up and load to the site. Over time, they plan to engage with other community members to add additional activities, such as horseback riding.
The main feature of the site catalogs outdoor activities. For each location, whether trailhead or fishing access point or sno-park, a few basic questions are answered: what to do, how to get there, when to go and what to expect. Also included are pertinent answers about what public lands the activity is on, whether a permit or pass is required, if pets are allowed, any regulations, difficulty level, wildlife awareness and field notes. A map and photos from each activity round out the plethora of information.
You can filter your planned trip on the website by selecting a desired activity, distance from Walla Walla and difficulty level.
Recent development enhanced the site even further, like a page dedicated to highlighting outfitters who help facilitate outdoor recreation, whether through gear rentals or guided excursions and another aims to connect the community with local, organized groups for a more communal adventure.
Another important new feature is an overview map. The goal was to reflect where in the region all the various opportunities across federal, state, and local lands are located. The list of future development ideas is already lengthy.
Different blog series highlight different aspects of the outdoors. “Grow Them Wild” focuses on family outings that could be fun for kids. “Adventures” has wonderful ideas about what to do for 48 hours in Walla Walla, perfect for those who have just arrived or are visiting from out of the area.
The Outside Walla Walla team invites all of us outside.
The set out to give information about the many outdoor activities in our area “a voice,” helping the community and visitors connect with the outdoors we all love.