Spring trips to Palouse Falls State Park during peak river flows in recent years often include crowds and traffic, with visitors coming from around the Northwest and beyond to check out Washington’s official state waterfall. But as summer wears on, and the water flows over the falls diminish and temperatures rise, you can often experience the majestic site, especially on weekdays, with a little more elbow room. Palouse Falls is the result of the Missoula Floods, which carved out the landscape during the last ice age, leaving a chasm in the basalt through which the Palouse River now flows.
Visiting Palouse Falls means around a two-hour drive along back highways and country roads from Spokane. Once you enter the park, the pavement ends, and it’s hard to believe the rolling landscape is hiding a nearly 200 foot tall waterfall. Less than half a mile from the parking lot, the land abruptly falls away to reveal the river cascading over the edge of dramatic basalt cliffs. A system of well-maintained interpretive trails offer great views of the upper and main falls. If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are more challenging and often exposed unofficial trails worthy of exploring. Watch for rattlesnakes, and be cautious near the rim of the canyon and on steep, rugged trails. Parking is limited and can become backed up on weekends, so plan accordingly. There are restrooms, picnic facilities, and limited camping on a first-come basis. Parks.state.wa.us/559/Palouse-Falls. //