Palouse Falls is the jewel of Eastern Washington, and only about a 2 hour drive or so from Spokane. It drops an astounding 186 ft. on the Palouse River, and flows fairly well year-round. In the spring, the river is raging with snow melt, and the waterfall is an absolutely incredible sight. In the winter, with snow and ice, it can be extraordinarily beautiful, and it still has very decent flow.
Despite it being only a couple hours from Spokane, Palouse Falls State Park still seems to be out in the middle of nowhere. Yet it is a popular location. At sunset, Palouse Falls can be a magnificent photo opportunity. When I was here in December, I was blessed with a fabulous sunset, and the waterfall had quite a high flow (higher than normal for this time of year).
At the park, there are many viewpoints of the waterfall, and you can walk along the canyon rim to view the falls from different locations. The best view for photography, though, is up from the protective railings closer to the lip of the falls. There are no protective railings there, and to take this photo you are standing on a rock ledge with a huge scary drop to the bottom. It is safe enough (if you are very careful), but you definitely get a very anxious feeling in your stomach!
It is possible to get to the bottom of the falls. There seems to be a trail descending from the lip of the falls. I did not go down, but it looked quite dangerous to me. Maybe it was just the perspective I had, but I would say be extremely careful if you decide to go to the bottom.
If you walk up the river a bit above the main waterfall, you will find another small rapid a short distance up from the falls. Many people mistakenly think this is Little Palouse Falls. It is not, it is just a small unnamed rapid. There is, however, a Little Palouse Falls, but it is located about 7 miles up river, and can be accessed east of Washtucna. There is also another waterfall called Gildersleeve Falls up near Little Palouse Falls. I have not been to either of them.
It is hard to imagine that anyone would go over Palouse Falls in a kayak. Yet that is exactly what Tyler Bradt did last year. And he survived to tell about it. This is just unbelievably crazy.
One note about the height of Palouse Falls. It is most commonly sited as being 186 ft. high. I believe that is fairly accurate. My measurement was 176 ft. high, only 10 ft. off, and that is close enough that I think we will stick with 186 ft. as being the accurate figure (since my measurement could have a bit of error in it).
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|Location: Washtucna, Palouse Falls State Park, Franklin County
Height: 186 ft.
Elevation: 700 ft.
Directions:From Spokane, drive west on I-90 for 60 miles to Ritzville. Drive south on Hwy 261 for 27 miles to Washtucna. From Washtucna on Hwy 260, drive south west for 5.7 miles to McAdam. Turn south east onto Hwy 261 and drive 8.8 miles to Palouse Falls Rd. Turn left and drive 2.4 miles to the park.
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