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Palouse Falls

Eastern Washington

Location

Eastern Washington -- Palouse and Blue Mountains
View map below

Length

1.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Highest Point: 803 ft.

Rating

3.35 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
The campground at Palouse Falls is closed and no overnight parking is allowed
 
 

The iconic Palouse Falls that has been deemed the official waterfall of Washington State is not to be missed. At the end of the last ice age, repeated glacial floods, known as the Missoula Floods, swept across eastern Washington carving out the unique scablands landscape we see today. Among the coulees, potholes, buttes, and plateaus, Palouse Falls remains as one of the magnificent and lasting remnants of these glacial floods. It is the only major waterfall left along this thousands of years old glacial flood path, and as of February 12, 2014, is Washington's official state waterfall. Standing at a height of 198 feet and surrounded by striking basalt cliffs, the powerful waterfall lies on the Palouse River upstream of the confluence with the Snake River.

Formerly known as Aput Aput, meaning “Falling Water,” so named by the Palouse Indians, Palouse Falls is located within Palouse Falls State Park. The park boasts a 105-acre camping area with 11 tent spaces, including one campsite that is ADA compliant. All sites are available on a first come, first served basis. You will also find other amenities including sheltered and unsheltered picnic tables, information kiosks, pit toilet restrooms, and wheelchair accessible paths. All visitors should be aware that this area is home to rattlesnakes, so be careful where you walk. You may also encounter the infamous yellow-bellied marmot during your visit. Many reside in the park and can be found grazing throughout the area.

From the parking area, where there is a nice overlook of the falls, a graveled path wends for one-third of a mile around and through grassland and back to the parking area. Keep an eye out for wildflowers that add splashes of color to the landscape. You will see a dirt path ahead that descends into the canyon; this is a user-created social trail that the State Park encourages hikers NOT use. It is quite steep and riddled with loose rocks making for a potentially hazardous descent. In late 2015, due to misuse of these trails and many injured hikers, the park closed the bootpaths leading to the base of the falls, reopening them with warnings about hiker safety.

WTA Pro Tip: Time your visit to the falls with the sunset. Watching the light and shadows change along the canyon walls is an experience not to be missed. This time of day also offers the opportunity to take advantage of the optimal golden hour lighting that so many photographers seek.

 

Palouse Falls

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.6636, -118.2281 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Eastern Washington -- Palouse and Blue Mountains

Washington State Parks

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Best Desert Hikes: Washington (Bauer & Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

Hiking Guide to Washington Geology (Carson & Babcock - Keokee) p. 179-183

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Connell

USGS Palouse Falls Quad

Washington

Topographic Map

Getting There

From Ellensburg, head east on I-90 toward I-82/Spokane/Yakima and continue on this road for approximately 28 miles. Take exit 137 to merge onto WA-26 east toward Othello/Pullman. Continue another 83 miles until you reach the small town of Washtucna, often referred to as the “Gateway to Palouse Falls.” Turn right onto Main Street and drive through Washtucna. If you blink you might miss it, so keep your eyes open; There will be a gas station on your left with restrooms if you need to make a pit stop.

Continue southwest on Main Street for 6.4 miles, entering into Franklin County. Then turn left onto WA-261 S. You will begin to see signs here for Palouse Falls State Park. Follow the highway as it winds through rolling hills for another 8.5 miles. Turn left onto Palouse Falls Road. The road is clearly marked with a sign indicating “Palouse Falls State Park.” Drive 2.4 miles and enter the park following a dirt and gravel road to the end to find the parking area. The lot has room for two dozen or more cars. Don’t forget to display your Discover Pass!

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
The campground at Palouse Falls is closed and no overnight parking is allowed
 

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Palouse Falls

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