Palouse Falls, Washington

A yellow-bellied marmot at the cliff’s edge.

As I was driving through Iceland viewing many of the different waterfalls, the scenery and surroundings kept reminding me of some other waterfall I had seen before…And then it clicked, a number of these falls were reminiscent of Palouse Falls, a truly spectacular waterfall in eastern Washington.

I don’t usually spend a significant amount of time at any one waterfall, but this is one I would suggest planning to explore more. Getting there is not terribly difficult, though you will drive through some grazing areas. The falls are not difficult to view either, but there are a number of interesting features of Palouse Falls that are worth more time.

First of all, I’ve got to say I’m amazed that people were able to get down to the base of the falls, and I’m not even remotely sure how they safely did it! There are a number of trails that lead to rapids further upstream, and many of these trails lead to steep and what seemed like very unsafe offshoots. I doubt that the park system supports the use of these trails, but there must be some way to get there. I’m just not sure I’d be trying!

Second, the geological features of Palouse Falls and the gorge that it has formed are just spectacular! At the right viewpoints, you can see the sharp cliffs and the river winding far below. Depending on the time of day, you might be in photographic heaven…

Finally, Palouse Falls is a great place to see a very interesting mammal, the yellow-bellied marmot. These creatures live at the cliffs edge, obviously unafraid of heights. When they sense danger, they will crouch down and lie as still as possible. They don’t seem to be as wary of humans (considering they are in very close contact with them), but they will still often respond in that way. It’s a really great surprise!

Directions:

  1. From Washtucna, head southwest for about 6 miles of WA-261.
  2. At the junction of WA-261 and WA-260, CONTINUE on WA-261 for a little under 9 miles.
  3. Turn left onto Palouse Falls Road. If it seems as though your headed through land meant for cattle, you haven’t chosen incorrectly. Drive for 4 miles to the parking area for the falls.
  4. The falls are very easy to visit from the parking area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 198′
Length of Hike: negligible

Palouse Falls in April 2011

Where in the World is Palouse Falls?

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