Palouse Falls State Park
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Palouse Falls State Park: Your Complete Guide

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Palouse Falls may be a teeny, tiny state park, but in our opinion, it is still worth heading off the beaten path. Located in Washtucna, Washington, it is in the middle of nowhere, which means it does not bring in the crowds that many other Washington State Parks do. But for many, this is part of the appeal.

At just under 100 acres, it’s not packed with things to do, but the landscape is unique and there is always the stunning namesake waterfall to enjoy.

Palouse Falls State Park


About Palouse Falls

Did you know that Palouse Falls is the official state falls of Washington? The falls were created due to glacial floods during the last ice age, yet when you see the area, it is hard to imagine it being covered in ice.

Beautiful cliff layers visible at Palouse Falls State Park.
These cliff layers are a result of glacial flooding!

The repeated glacial floods swept over this eastern part of Washington, creating the landscape we see today. Palouse Falls is one of these floods’ last and most magnificent remnants.

The powerful 200-foot tall waterfall is impressive in itself, but its surroundings help to add to the magic. The water crashes over striking basalt cliffs, standing out against the more barren surroundings.

Gorgeous waterfall in Palouse State Park.
The best time to visit this waterfall is in spring or summer when the water is strongest.

You would be forgiven for mistaking this sort of landscape for somewhere more wild and remote like Iceland rather than the state of Washington.

The main overlook is the most obvious way to witness the falls, but make sure you don’t just stop at the one viewpoint and head back to the parking lot. Each overlook gives you a unique vantage point, and this waterfall is worth at least a few angles.


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Palouse Falls Trail

Distance: 0.68 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 65.6 feet

There is only one trail in Palouse Falls State Park, which takes you from the parking lot to the waterfall overlook. The pathway is nice and accessible as it takes you along the canyon, giving you incredible views of the waterfall from different angles.

Take a rest at this viewpoint on the Palouse Falls Trail.
Have a rest stop on the trail to take in the views.

You will also be able to read a bit about the falls as you hike, thanks to the interpretive panels placed strategically along the path.

The first viewpoint is steps away from the parking lot, which is the lower viewpoint. Follow the path along to the highest of the viewpoints, Fryxell Overlook. This overlook gives you great views of the falls and the Palouse River Canyon below.

View of Palouse Falls State Park Waterfall.
The best view of Palouse Falls State Park Waterfall.

Due to the common rockslides in the area, you mustn’t stray from the paths for a closer look, as tempting as that may be! All trails leading to the base of the canyon are now closed due to the number of injuries caused by loose rocks and the steep cliffs.


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Other Things To Do at Palouse Falls State Park

As mentioned before, the real draw to the Palouse Falls State Park is the natural beauty of the area and the waterfall, but there are a few other activities you could also enjoy.

Kayaking

While there is nowhere to hire a kayak in the park, if you have your own, it is possible to have a paddle nearby. Make sure you start your kayaking adventure a good way downriver of the falls for safety. The best place to put in is the nearby Lyons Ferry State Park.

Aerial view of the river at Palouse Falls State Park.
Bring your own kayak and paddle down the river.

If you wanted to rent a kayak, you could speak to the KOA down the road.

Picnicking

The main overlook for the Palouse Falls has a few picnic tables, creating the perfect background for a leisurely lunch. You won’t get a better view for a picnic than here. Just remember there is nowhere to buy food at the park, you will have to bring your lunch.

The tables are unsheltered, so you must hope the weather is on your side.

Enjoy a picnic at Lyons Ferry State Park.
Enjoy a picnic at Lyons Ferry State Park.

Lyons Ferry State Park also has some more picnicking opportunities if you plan on visiting both parks or plan on getting your kayak in for a float.

Bird Watching

Palouse Falls State Park and the area surrounding the falls are popular birding locations, and despite the raw landscape, it has their fair share of wildlife. Red-tailed Hawks and Canadian Geese are just a few species you could spot if you are patient enough.

Palouse Falls is home to the red-tailed hawk.
A red-tailed hawk flies through the canyon at Palouse Falls.

They are not quite a bird, but marmots are common in the area, so look out for them too!

Where to Camp Near Palouse Falls State Park

As the park is quite remote, you might be keen to find a place to stay nearby, so you don’t have so much traveling in one day. There is a campground directly in the park, but it is a tent only. There are 11 sites available that are pretty primitive, with just a pit toilet for modern conveniences, drinking water in the summer, fire pits, and a picnic table at each site.

These sites also can’t be reserved in advance.

View of Cliff Edge Trail at Palouse Falls State Park.
The view from Cliff Edge Trail is probably even more spectacular at sunrise or sunset, which you can better enjoy if you decide to camp here!

If you prefer somewhere with a few more comforts and can book in advance, there are a few options nearby. Lyons Ferry Marina KOA sits on the shore of Snake River, with boat slips and plenty of fishing opportunities. There is a fully stocked camp store, kayak rentals, themed nights, and much more.

Tuc N’ Roll RV Park is another option for RV campers, with full hookups and Wi-Fi available. It doesn’t have as many amenities as KOA, but it has a more peaceful vibe.

Facilities

A parking area within the park offers easy access to the overlooks and picnic area. There are also clean restroom facilities with pit toilets. There is drinking water available during the summer months from April through to October.

Canyon viewpoint Palouse Falls State Park.
One of the viewpoints that overlooks the canyon.

How To Get To Palouse Falls

We are going to be honest, here, Palouse Falls State Park is in the middle of nowhere, and it will take a bit of traveling to reach it. To get to the park, you should follow highway WA-261, then Palouse Falls Road, to the parking lot.

This is a popular post to head to if you happen to be in Walla Walla.

Tips for Visiting Palouse Falls State Park

  • Due to the park’s remoteness, there’s no cell service, so this is something to be aware of. Travel with others if possible, and let others know when you plan to visit the park.
  • The trail can be very slippery, especially in wet weather and steeper sections, so be sure to wear shoes with a proper grip.
  • Grab some food before entering the Palouse Falls State Park, especially if you plan on having a picnic because there are limited facilities on site.
  • To visit Palouse Falls, a Discover Pass will be necessary. Ideally, you will have one in advance, but if you don’t, it is possible to purchase one directly at the park.
  • Are you traveling on a budget? There are a few set days throughout the year where the entrance fee is waived, so keep an eye out for these if you fancy-free entry!
  • Swimming at the waterfall is not advised or encouraged as it is dangerous.
  • The best time to visit Palouse Falls is from April-July; the water flow is at its most impressive, and the temperature is still moderate.
  • Make sure your car isn’t low on gas, as the nearest gas station is 15 miles away
  • Pack water and sunscreen, as the park can get very hot, especially in summer.
  • Snakes are sometimes spotted on the trail, so always stay alert.
Palouse Falls State Park has a map guide.
A posted map of the park.

While Palouse Falls State Park is remote, it’s easily seen while road-tripping the east of Washington state.

Palouse Falls is best visited when you’re heading north from Walla Walla or if you’re heading south from Spokane. If you’re heading east from Yakima, this is also a great stopover on your way!

We hope this helped you plan your trip to Palouse Falls State Park!

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