The REAL Kickoff of the 2014 Pacific Northwest Waterfall Tour – Palouse Falls

Spring has got to be the best time to visit Palouse Falls. The water is flowing at its heaviest and vivid green accents the hills around the area. Any other time of the year the entire area would be blanketed in a drab brown.

I’ve seen photos of this waterfall in the wintertime, also. With the frost and ice encrusted walls of the cliffs that surround the waterfall, it’s an entirely different portrait – also very beautiful. Either way, Palouse Falls is among the prettiest waterfalls in the pacific northwest.

Waterfall Tour Kickoff

We set out for our one-day journey on a Saturday morning in early May. This is the “real” kickoff for our 2014 Pacific Northwest Waterfall Tour.  We tried to get things started in March, but found it to be a little early for the chosen destination.

This day, we followed highway 24 east from Yakima, over the Vernita bridge, and continued east on highway 26 to the falls. Normally, I would consider that route to be long, desolate, and boring, but Leslie and I were accompanied by our son’s girlfriend. The pleasant conversation along the way made the 2 1/2 hour drive from our home in Yakima seem very short and quick.

We quickly found a place to park, jumped out of the car, and immediately began to snap photos of the grand waterfall. I’m so thankful for digital photography, but could use better battery life with my Samsung Galaxy S4 camera/phone for occasions such as this.

Images of Palouse Falls

This is a spectacular waterfall with a large volume of water plummeting nearly 200 feet into the bowl of the coulee. It is surrounded by interesting rock formations and varying levels of plateaus. My only interest in geology is purely for the aesthetic value, but I have no doubts that a geology hobbyist would have a heyday here.

palouse falls wide
palouse falls wide
View of Palouse Falls from the far end of the state park.
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Hiking Around Palouse Falls

After a short walk to the south end of the park for some quick snapshots from the viewpoint, we proceeded north from the main picnic and camping area of the park on the trails to the top of the waterfall.

I would describe the trail as being only moderately difficult. It does require caution in places, and I wouldn’t advise anyone with small children or individuals in weaker health conditions or with balance problems to attempt this trail.

After the decent down a rocky slide to the Palouse River above the waterfall, we meandered our way between the river and a rock wall until we arrived at the rock spires they call the “Mohawk” and the precipice overlooking the falls.

My wife and my son’s girlfriend arrived shortly before I did, and when I got there, they had shuffled down to the edge of the precipice for a photo op. I have to admit being more than just a little nervous with them exposing themselves to such a precarious position. The footing isn’t entirely stable and there is nothing below them but certain death with any miss-step.

Though there were several people following a path around the inside of the bowl and down into the bottom of the falls, we elected not to take that trip. Under advise from multiple hikers and bloggers, I felt that the danger was more than I wished to face.

From here, we returned to the car and moved on down the road to find a place for lunch.  I heard there was a decent little place at a KOA campground in King’s Ferry.  Maybe we’ll check that out.