Palouse Falls: Official state waterfall

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Palouse Falls is on it’s way to becoming Washington State’s official waterfall. The house unanimously passed a bill that would designate Palouse Falls as the state waterfall, and now it’s headed to the senate. So I gathered my photos of Palouse Falls.

It’s a very deserving waterfall. Anyone who is interested in waterfalls (or justice) may have noticed that it is usually missing from lists of best waterfalls in the state or the Pacific Northwest.

In some ways it reminds me of Snoqualmie Falls. At both falls, a boatload of water careens over one huge drop into a round plunge pool with vertical sides. By most rubrics, Palouse Falls is biggerthan Snoqualmie Falls. The surrounding landscape is dry, and relatively flat, making the volume of water and nearly 400-foot plunge all the more breathtaking. The whole watery scene is perfumed with the scent of sage and the awesome feeling of lonely, open space.

I didn’t pass any other cars on the dirt road between the highway and the falls, but I did come around a corner to find a lone cow trotting up the one-lane road. She slowed, stopped, faked left and then juked right around my wagon.

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There’s not much hiking to do at Palouse Falls, but if you’re ever nearby it’s a mandatory stop. I hiked a mile or so upstream past the upper falls and into a narrow canyon above the falls. Downstream of the falls, I didn’t find much other than game trails and animal bones.

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Yellow-bellied marmots scurry around at the top of the mesa. If you startle them, they sprint toward the edge of the several-hundred-foot-tall cliffs and appear to huck themselves into the watery abyss. I thought I was responsible for the deaths of several marmots until I discovered they nest in the cliffs, and were just scampering back to their homes. Falcons and hawks also dwell in the cliffs and circle high above the plunge pool throughout the day.

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