Palouse Falls

March 25, 2012


Photographer: Robert Farrimond
Summary Authors: Robert Farrimond; Stu Witmer

The above photo of Palouse Falls in the southeastern quarter of Washington State was taken on March 7, 2010. My earliest memories are of fishing trips to nearby Jameson Lake in the Moses Coulee with my father and brother. Since that time, many years have passed and I've traveled the tiny ribbons of pavement that crisscross magnificent scenes of utter geologic destruction. This corner of the state is remarkable for the variety of its scenery. The Palouse River lies along the eastern edge of the Channeled Scablands. This area of dramatic basalt canyons and solitary buttes was formed as cataclysmic floods ripped through the area violently tearing away soil, rock and everything else in their path. These floods happened repeatedly, perhaps as often as every 40 - 140 years. The last flood occurred about 12,000 to 18,000 years ago when there may have been humans here to witness the deluge. One of those floods rerouted the river now named Palouse to its present course where, about 4 mi (6.5 km) before it joins the Snake River, it tumbles nearly 200 ft (60 m) over a basalt escarpment into a canyon that is over 1000 ft (305 m) deep in places. The word Palouse may be a reference to the local Native American tribe, or it may have an older French origin related to the long grass that grows on the extremely fertile loess of the region east of the Scablands.

Photo details: Canon T1i, 28mm to 105mm ultrasonic Canon lens.