Time for another short road trip! This week on our day off from cycling we took a road trip north up to Palouse Falls State Park and spent a brief time in charming downtown Dayton on our way back.
We were concerned on the way up when we saw this huge plume of smoke in the distance.
Not long after, we were smelling and driving through smoke and had very low visibility. We were afraid that we'd barely be able to see the falls, much less get any good photographs. Here was the hazy view greeting us at the Snake River bridge. Not good.
Luckily just a mile or two farther north we left all the smoke behind us. We did find out on the local news later that the smoke came from a rather large wildfire that broke out that morning. The fire fortunately occurred in a grassland with no population, but it did burn about 30 square miles before being contained. By the time we left the park in the afternoon, the smoke was gone.
We arrived at the park in the late morning and were the only people there! That didn't last long, but it was nice for a short while anyway.
There's a $10 fee per car to park if you don't have a Washington State Discovery pass. We don't, so we paid up at the honor fee station.
We didn't venture into the picnic and camping area, but there is a small area for primitive tent camping and one pit toilet. There are numerous picnic tables scattered around the park as well.
Soon after arriving, we realized that the falls were very close at hand. We're used to parks where you have to hike a bit to see waterfalls hidden in the woods, so this was a bit different. We also quickly discovered that maybe the reason we were the first people at the park was because the light was not great for photographing the falls in the morning. Mid-afternoon looked to be the best time. So, it looked like we were in for a longer stay than I'd first anticipated if we hoped to get some decent shots.
Shooting in this direction, the photos were a little washed out at this time of day. No worries -- they get better, but I figured I better give you an early preview of the 200' falls. After all, that is the main attraction here!
This information board explained how the dramatic landscape here was carved by huge floods at the end of the last Ice Age.
We hiked around on some of the shorter trails near the falls. My only complaint about this park is that none of the trails were marked or rated. It's always nice to know how long and how difficult a trail is. In addition to wider trails that were obviously "park trails" (even though unmarked), we could see where other, narrow trails criss-crossed down into the canyon and closer to the falls. We weren't sure if they were legitimate park trails or just "rogue" trails that determined folks had blazed. We still don't know for sure.
The views and sights were pretty anywhere you looked, though.
This photo turned out nice even though the the falls were still partially shaded.
Barry, never one to content himself with a short walk around a park, decided to investigate a trail we found at the west end of the park trail. This is one of those trails we weren't sure was "official" or "rogue" as there were no markings, but we could see that it descended rather sharply down talus into the canyon and appeared to eventually wind around to the falls. Our hiking poles were in the car, and he'd worn his hiking boots, so of course he couldn't resist giving it a try. I decided to pass and take photos from above; after all, this was supposed to be our "rest" day!
Here he is, starting down the trail. You'll have to look closely to see his tiny figure in the upper right of this photo. And the all-talus (loose rock) trail dropping steeply down in front of him. Yes, he's an adventurer!
It actually worked out well that I stayed up top so I could take photos of his efforts. I'd brought my binoculars in case of interesting birds (which I didn't see), but turned out they were great for Barry sightings as well.
I ended up getting plenty of exercise as I walked back and forth, back and forth looking for him on the trail and taking photos, up and down a hill over and over. My shins were sore the next day!
Here's more of his hike as seen from above. Zooming in...
And back out a bit...
Now's he made it down the rock and onto a flat, grassy area. He's right in the center of this photo.
He made it to the foliage down by the river! Can you see him among the greenery?
And finally to the little island near the falls!
Looking at the big picture; can you see where Barry is on the little island? Impressive, right?!
Here are a few shots he took while on the trail.
Uhhhh....don't think this trail gets a lot of use!
This looks like some pretty tough hiking conditions. One slip and you're in the drink!
Peek-a-boo waterfall view!
And he's there!
He was able to walk a bit further for a good view of the side of the falls.
Trail conditions were awfully rough. This was not a long hike, but it took him a fairly long time because of the need to walk so carefully. Fortunately, he did great, with no injuries.
Back to my photos, the sky was getting very dark towards the east, but it never rained where we were. Check out the start of fall color up here!
Barry's on his way up -- once again a tiny figure in the middle of the photo.
A freight train rumbled by at the top of the trail while he was climbing.
And he made it!
Once he was up, the light was better for a few more photos, so we snapped away before leaving the park.
This formation to the left of the falls is aptly named "Castle Rock". Reminds me of the castle at Disneyworld!
A final long view with afternoon sun...
Stay tuned for Part 2 as we head down to Dayton for a look around!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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