Having lived in Pullman since 2000, I have familiarized myself with many outdoor recreation spots around the Palouse and I'd like to share some of my favorites with all of you! One of my favorite places is Palouse Falls, located just 23 miles southeast of Washtucna, Wash. Some people who are from the west side of the state say "there's nothing to do in eastern Washington!" Well I say, "boy are they wrong." There are plenty of great places to visit in the Palouse and throughout the east side of Washington, especially if you love the outdoors as much as I do!
Palouse Falls State Park is located in Lacrosse, WA. This deep canyon, as well as other canyons and coulees in the Columbia River Basalt, was created during the Ice Age Floods 10,000 years ago. Geologists believe that most of the water during these floods came from Glacial Lake Missoula. However, there is also a mythical story that was told hundreds of years ago by the indigenous people of the area:
The park was dedicated June 3, 1951. For many years the falls were called "Aput Aput," meaning "falling water." Later, the name was changed to commemorate the Palouse [indigenous] culture.
According to a story of the Palouse tribe, the Palouse River once flowed smoothly into the Snake. But four giant brothers, in pursuit of a mythic creature called "Big Beaver," speared the great creature five times. Each time Big Beaver was wounded, he gouged the canyon walls, causing the river to bend and change. The fifth time he was speared, he fought the brothers valiantly and tore out a huge canyon. The river tumbled over a cliff at this point to become Palouse Falls. The jagged canyon walls show the deep marks of Big Beaver's claws.
--From Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission site
Being a mythical creature myself, I have to say that I believe the second story! Today, the waterfall stands at 198ft tall. And I can say from personal experience, the view is absolutely breathtaking! Many people visit the falls to camp or go hiking, and some go to learn about the historical context behind this geological wonder. One young man, Tyler Bradt, was even adventurous enough to kayak over the falls to set an unofficial world record of 186 ft., which was re-measured at 189 ft. (WARNING: Extremely dangerous, do not attempt).
As I stated above, Palouse Falls is beautiful! The enormity of the canyon coupled with the massive waterfall and eastern Washington landscape creates a scene unlike any other found in Washington State...or anywhere for that matter. I consider the falls a must see for anyone in Washington! Whether you're hiking, camping, or just want to rest your eyes on a tremendous view, I highly recommend making a trip out to Palouse Falls.
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