A Paradise Called the Palouse
Come See The Palouse Paradise For Yourself
Ride a raft down, and a jet boat up, the Snake River through Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America. Nearby, take in spectacular Palouse Falls, where the Palouse River tumbles 198 feet over layers of basalt lava deposited here during the last Ice Age. Keep your eyes open for Rocky Mountain elk, bighorn sheep, deer, cougar and black bear. If skiing is your passion, shoosh through deep powder (300 annual inches) on the slopes of the nearby Blue Mountains. The second-highest base elevation in the state is found here along with clear skies and luxuriously short lift lines.
In addition to the mountains, gorges and sprawling agricultural beauty, the region is a place rich in history, dating back more than 10,000 years.
Native Americans were here first, then Lewis and Clark passed through nearly two centuries ago on their journey to the mouth of the Columbia. They were likely the first non-indigenous people to set foot in Washington. In the fall of 1805, when westward bound, the Lewis & Clark Expedition arrived at the junction of two great rivers. One was the mighty Snake and it seems they established a camp on the bank of the other, the Clearwater. The expedition also camped on the banks of Patit Creek, a short distance from the Columbia County Courthouse, now newly restored, which remains as the oldest courthouse in the state. Take a walking tour of 83 houses on the National Historic Register or visit the Boomerang Newspaper and Printing Museum, which maintains equipment used by early-day printers. This fully operational, antique equipment and the extensive collection of county newspapers provide a unique opportunity to explore and research letterpress printing methods as well as local history.
The Palouse is the area where settlers first stepped foot in Washington. Native peoples had been fishing for salmon and eel in the rivers and cultivating the soil, rich with volcanic ash, for millennia. This is the wheat belt, but it’s also the lentil capital of the world. From this quaint corner of Americana, literally millions of pounds of lentils are shipped to Europe, South America and the Middle East. Visit the National Lentil Festival in August. But whenever you come, explore the varied beauty and pioneer history of the Palouse.
Image credit: Magnus Manske
Take a drive on the Palouse Scenic Highway
Welcome to the Palouse Scenic Byway from Dan Walker Productions on Vimeo.
The Palouse Scenic Byway is a 208-mile network of roads that winds through photogenic rolling hills and among a handful of charming little towns.
Suggested Palouse Day Trip from Spokane Washington
From the Spokane Visitors Center
The Palouse Prairie landscape is laid out a patchwork quilt. Waves of color are in a landscape of green and gold fields covering rolling hills reached by back-country roads. The colors morph from season to season, but the rippling effect never changes. As you glide through the one of the most important farming regions in the United States, you’ll hear stories of giant earthworms that grow to three feet in length, nomadic Native American tribes, and pioneer families who settled here in the late 1800s. A three-mile road winds to the top of 3,618-foot-tall Steptoe Butte, for a bird’s eye view of the prairie.
- One of the nations leading agriculture research and education facilities, the Washington State University, makes its home in Pullman Washington within the region. Plan ahead for a WSU professor to will enlighten and entertain your group with an agriculture presentation and join students from around the world for lunch at the CUB.
- Visit the university’s creamery, producing cheese and milk products since 1902, including award-winning Cougar Gold Cheese. Enjoy a sample and learn why the cheese is packaged in cans. Then top off the day with a stop at Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe for a locally made ice cream or a milkshake. (Seasonal option.)
More to See In the Palouse
Palouse Falls State Park is a 105-acre camping park with a unique geology and history. The park offers a dramatic view of one of the state’s most beautiful waterfalls. Palouse Falls drops from a height of 198-feet with high volumes of water flow in spring and early summer.
Lyons Ferry is a 1,000-acre park situated at the confluence of the Palouse and Snake rivers. It once was home to early groups of the Palouse Indians. The park has more than 52,000 feet of shoreline and offers a variety of activities, including boating, fishing, hiking and swimming. Lyons Ferry was named for the ferry crossing that operated across the Snake River from the mid-1860s until the late-1960s, when it was replaced by the Lyons Ferry Bridge, also known as the Snake River Bridge.
The Bill Chipman Palouse Trail
The Chipman Trail is the most visited county park in Whitman County! It is a popular recreation desitnation for walkers, runners, cyclists, skateboarders, roller bladers, dog walkers, baby walkers – you name it. It is also heavily used for commuting between Pullman, WA and Moscow, ID and their respective universities.
Running along Paradise Creek, the Chipman Trail is 7-miles long and connects to the Pullman Trail system on the Washington side and Paradise Path and to the 17-mile Latah trail to Troy on the Idaho side. It is a great way to experience the beauty of the region from a new perspective.
Palouse Discovery Science Center
The Palouse Discovery Science Center is a place for hands-on, minds-on science. Explore a museum, attend events, they even offer daily lessons to visitors. These lessons are designed for Preschool-Kindergarten age. Older participants are welcomed as well and the lessons are tailored to suit the ages present.
Lodging and Hotels in the Palouse
Cities in the Palouse
- La Crosse
- St. John