Monday, May 28, 2012

Palouse Falls, Washington

In my last post I included video link to of a kyaker going over Palouse falls in a kayak.(definitely worth seeing)  After careful consideration I decided not to pursue that activity.  My kayak was safely left at home. I, however pursued other outlandish activities including rock climbing and playing tourist with the camera, in pursuit of the perfect picture.  These are what I came up with.
Several required taking several shots before I could stop shaking...

Palouse Falls as seen from the view point

 At the end of the last Ice Age the Palouse River used to flow into the Pasco Basin of South Central Washington State. At this time the ice dam on the Clark Fork River broke open repeatedly over the course of a 2,000 year period causing millions of tons of water to fan out over the south central and western part of Washington.  It also flooded the Palouse River and caused it to overflow and head south to Snake River.

Calm water seen on the left before plunging into the Palouse Gorge

Palouse Falls as seen from the north edge.  Not for the faint of heart!

 The force of the rushing water created three deep ravines on the side of Snake River Canyon.  There were three waterfalls spilling from each of these coulees but over time they receded and now the only one left is Palouse Falls.  That is why there is a waterfall in the middle of the desert.

View of the Palouse Canyon

Marmotts sunning by the falls

Upper Palouse Falls
There is a lot of history attached to the falls and the area around them. The falls used to be called ‘Aputapat Falls’ but were renamed in honor of the Palouse Indians who once lived in the area.  They have a legend surrounding the creation of the landscape and the falls. According to this legend the land around the area used to be flatter, without falls, without the canyon.  There was just the Palouse River flowing easily into the Snake River. One day four brothers who also happened to be giants were chasing a Big Beaver, another giant creature. The first four brothers were able to spear the Beaver and each time the Beaver was hit he gouged out a canyon wall along the Palouse River with his large claws. The fifth brother hit the Beaver last and the Beaver turned to fight the hunters. During the fight the larger Snake River canyon got gouged out of the ground.  This point is where the Palouse Falls exist. It’s believed that the canyon walls still show marks of the Big Beaver’s claws.

Could these be the Beaver claw marks?


  1. gorgeous, gorgeous! I have been to Palouse Falls a few times but never climbed up where you did. Also haven't seen it at the perfect time of year when the river was full and the surroundings were so green. Lovely

  2. Yikes! Scawy place.

    When I was a kid, one of my friends had an Appalousa horse. I was quite jealous, to say the least. It had a white coat like the falls with black spots and was gorgeous.