A short trip to the Palouse

Gardyloo

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Still more or less grounded during the pandemic, I’ve been fiddling around with pictures of trips past, and thought I’d do a little “trip report” covering a day and a half (net) that I spent a couple of years ago in eastern Washington, in particular the Palouse region in the southeastern part of the state.

The Palouse (home of Appaloosa horses) is mainly a wheat growing area, featuring large areas of gently rolling hills. It’s rather famous (at least in the Pacific Northwest) for the incredible green-on-green landscapes that emerge with the young wheat in the spring, but it’s more than that. On the southern edge of the region, near the lovely old town of Walla Walla, is a wine-producing district that’s joining the ranks of the most important in the country. And to the west of the Palouse the landscape is arid and occasionally dramatic, featuring rocky bluffs, canyons, and ample “old west” scenery.

For this trip I only had a couple of days in the early spring (driving from Seattle) so I had to make the best of the photo conditions that presented themselves. Here’s the route, more or less - Google Maps

After crossing the Cascades, I-90 passes through ranch country, then the land becomes increasingly arid until one is basically in desert.

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The first stop was a monument commemorating the region’s wild horses, many of which still roam, mainly on the huge Yakama reservation. The sculpture is set atop a bluff overlooking the Columbia River at Vantage, where I-90 crosses the big river.

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My first destination in the Palouse proper was Palouse Falls, a spectacular waterfall and river canyon out in the middle of nowhere. The rock formations on the edge of the falls are fabulous.

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I then spent the hours just before sunset at Steptoe Butte State Park, a well known overlook point for the “classic” scenery during the spring and fall. Unfortunately the clouds were too thick to provide for any of the spectacular sunset shots common from this location, but I made the best of the light. I came back the following morning when things were somewhat better.

Ah, the light. Well, it changes all the time, and the combination of direct and indirect, cloud shadows and haze, over a landscape that’s just-spring, or plowed, or fallow… it can lead to breathtaking things. Sometimes it makes scenes that you’d swear were tinted by an impressionist painter, other times it’s flat, and then sharp. I’ll let a selection of images tell the story.

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At ground level

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Note I added a couple of images that I overlooked earlier, numbered as Nos. 7a and 7b.
 
Now, this is a terrific series. I have always felt to find beauty in any location, one only has to look for it. As you said, some of these look like a painter's interpretation. Almost nothing looks random as nature most usually is, in numbers 7, 7a, 8 and 9. I wonder how accessible that waterfall is? I would love to see more of that.
 
Great information and photos. This is a beautiful area! Thanks for sharing.
 
Really enjoyed seeing these, Gardy!!! Man, that waterfall....!!!!!
 
Yeah, some big country there, well captured.
 
Thanks for all the feedback.

I wonder how accessible that waterfall is? I would love to see more of that.
It's very accessible with a car - Google Maps To get your blood running, google "Palouse Falls night" and look at the images. This is on my bucket list.

There's plenty of human interest in the region as well. Here are a few (scanned) pictures from an earlier trip.

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Awesome set! Such beautiful land. I'm a fan of old barns so you know which one.
 

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