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Palouse Falls State Park

Palouse Falls State Park

In a most improbable feat of natural engineering, a beautiful nearly 200′ waterfall was plopped in the middle of nowhere.  At least many would call the rolling grasslands and eroded lava formations of the Palouse “nowhere”, though not your humble narrator because I find this is a great region to explore in the springtime.  It’s climate is milder than eastern Washington’s so the snow melts earlier and grass and wildflowers have a head start.  And summer’s heat is a distant memory so spring is definitely the best time to visit — when the weather is cool and the water on the Palouse River fills its channel and pours over …

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The North Cascades Highway

The North Cascades Highway

The North Cascades Highway (Washington SR-20) offers the northern most route across the Cascade range in Washington state, just south of the Canadian border.  The eastern (and highest) part of the road is closed during winter because of heavy snowfall and the danger posed by avalanches from the thick snow-pack.  Like most mountain pass roads, the date of its reopening varies from year to year, depending mostly on the weather and quantity of the snow, though usually it is open by early May.

The road follows a many thousand year old Indian trade route allowing passage from the central part of the state to the coast.  About 150 years ago white settlers began using this route for access to the inland fur trade and for …

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Steamboat Rock — Vistas and Wildflowers galore!

Steamboat Rock — Vistas and Wildflowers galore!

Like the black monolith sitting on the Serengeti plain in the film 2001:A Space Odyssey, the large basalt mass of Steamboat Rock is a distinct landmark in Central Washington state. Steamboat Rock State Park is a dozen miles southwest of the Columbia River’s massive Grand Coulee Dam. The Park is on a peninsula adjoining Banks Lake and is accessed by route 155. Steamboat Rock itself is a high wind-blown mesa above the lake, but the surrounding park is a popular recreational venue with campgrounds, a nice swimming beach, hiking trails, and boat launch providing access to the recreational fisheries of Banks Lake.

I have discussed …

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Dry Falls – Home of The World’s Largest Waterfall!

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Imagine a waterfall with a precipice over three and a half miles long and a drop of over 400 feet!  (By comparison, Niagara Falls is about 1/10th as wide).  Imagine millions of gallons of water pouring over it each second, draining the flooded plains of central Washington State.  When you gaze at the geologic skeleton of this event, try to envision what it was like here 10-15,000 years ago as snow and ice from the last great Ice Age began melting and shaping the landscape.

I’ve always had a general interest in science and find the geology of Dry Falls State Park to be fascinating.  To understand what you now see in this park a short review …

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A springtime hike on the Yakima Rim Skyline Trail

A springtime hike on the Yakima Rim Skyline Trail

After a rather long winter in Spokane, I was ready for a pleasant hike. While in my heart I’d rather head up to the mountains for a stroll in an alpine meadow, there’s way too much snow up there in April. Fortunately in Washington state we have some good springtime hiking options, mostly in the central state in the deserts around the Columbia River. In the summer these places tend to be too hot and in winter they, too, can be covered in snow. Spring and fall are the best time to try these trails.

I’d read about the Yakima Rim Skyline Trail years ago in Harvey Manning‘s classic book, the …

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Wild Horses Monument & Gingko Petrified Forest

Wild Horses Monument & Gingko Petrified Forest

The Columbia River is one of the most interesting and beautiful geographic features of the Inland Northwest, from its headwaters in British Columbia to the dramatic Gorge just east of Portland.    When you look at the river remember, as I do, that this was a major portion of the road Lewis and Clark took to the Pacific under President Jefferson’s sponsorship.  While it lacks the dramatic forest of the coast, the Columbia River Gorge in Central Washington is still an impressive place to visit — or at least to stop on your journey east from Seattle.  There are two locations on either bank that I’d driven by on I-90 dozens of times, traveling between the coast and my home in Spokane.  I’d seen signs …

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