Palouse Falls State Park, in the southeastern part of Washington, has a magnificent view of, what else, Palouse Falls. Palouse Falls is a 198-foot-high waterfall, most spectacular during the spring and early summer when the water flow is highest.
If you are coming from western Washington, you will want to make this a multi-day trip. (I did – this was a 5-day camping trip for me starting on Memorial Day weekend in 2012. I crossed Washington into northeastern Oregon, back into Washington to Palouse Falls and on to Grand Coulee Dam before heading back home.) If you are in eastern Washington, you can make this a one-day site-seeing trip. Google Maps shows it to be a 2-1/2 hour drive from Spokane to Palouse Falls State Park.
Palouse Falls was formed at the end of the last Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago, along with many of the other features of eastern Washington. Great floods, known as the Missoula Floods, swept from western Montana and northern Idaho across much of eastern Washington forming the coulees and Channeled Scablands. Many times over the years, water backed up behind an ice dam in northern Idaho. When the dam failed, water swept over much of eastern Washington, carving its way through the basalt as it went. The flow of this flood water is estimated to be 10 times the current flow of all rivers in the world combined! For more information about the Missoula Floods, see the Wikipedia article. Dry Falls was also formed by these floods.
The photo above shows Palouse Falls from the viewing area near the parking lot. There are a few trails that you can follow for different views of the falls. Not all are safe for small children, as there is no fence along the trails to the left of the parking lot. However, the views from these trails are spectacular.
I found a dirt road a little ways before the park entrance that took me to a great view of the Palouse River a little downstream from the falls. Just imagine the tremendous flow of water that eroded through this rock! This photo was taken Memorial Day weekend. Later in the summer there is much less green vegetation.
I just couldn’t resist including at least one photo that showed my transportation for this trip…my Kawasaki Versys.
For more information about Palouse Falls State Park, see Washington State’s website.
Palouse Falls State Park Locator Map: Google Maps