Lets take a small step back in time… Earth’s most recent ice age, the Pleistocene Ice Age, started 2 million years ago. Glaciers did not continually cover the earth during this time. Their maximum advance was 15,000 years ago and have been retreating since. It was during this period that a finger from the glacial ice sheet moved south through the Purcell Trench in northern Idaho, near present day Lake Pend Oreille, damming the Clark Fork River creating Glacial Lake Missoula. This lake was more than 2,000 feet deep and held over 500 cubic miles of water – that’s as big as Lake Erie and Lake Ontario combined. the ice dam, as ice dams do, failed many times, and each time it did, a towering mass of water and ice was released and swept across parts of Idaho, Washington and Oregon on its way to the ocean.
The peak rate of flow was ten times the combined flow of all the rivers of the world.
We parked the car at Palouse Falls State Park and were greeted immediately by the thunderous sound of Palouse Falls. Truly a magnificent site as the falls drops 200 feet into a scoured canyon of columnar basalt and flows down canyon. We took a hike right along the edge of the basalt cliffs, past marmots and sharp pinnacles as the mist from the falls rose to greet us. This hike is not for the faint-hearted or those fearful of heights.
GETTING TO: Palouse Falls
From Seattle: Palouse Falls is 237 miles, 3 hours 45 minutes.
From Portland: Palouse Falls is 285 miles, 4 1/2 hours.
WHERE TO STAY:
Camping at Palouse Falls State Park
Quality Inn, Othello WA
Mardon Resort, Potholes Reservoir