Is Palouse Falls Worth the Drive?

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View of palouse falls state park

We usually don’t venture far off our route to visit an attraction. You never know if it will be worth it, and often we’re trying to get to our next destination before late afternoon. But Palouse Falls State Park is an exception. 

It’s not going to be on any route through southeast Washington, but it’s worth heading down Highway 261 from Highway 26 for a detour. The falls are breathtaking, and the peaceful scenery is a welcome sight on a stressful drive day.

Let’s look closer at why you should visit Palouse Falls State Park!

Where Is Palouse Falls State Park?

Palouse Falls State Park is located in southeast Washington state, about 43 miles south of I-90. It’s between the city of Washtucna to the north and Perry to the south along the Palouse River. 

Washtucna is about 25-30 minutes from the park, and Perry is about 15 minutes from the park. Highway 26 runs north, while Highway 261 runs west and south. Palouse Falls State Park is less than two hours south of Spokane.

View of palouse falls state park

How Many State Parks Are In Washington?

Washington has beautiful parks scattered throughout the state. The state provides 154 areas for the public to enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, wildlife viewing, fishing, and more. 

Of those 154 sites, 84 of them offer campsites. 

Deception Pass State Park is the most popular state park, with more than two million visitors each year, while Mount Spokane State Park is the largest, covering 12,293 acres in northeast Washington.

What’s the History of Palouse Falls State Park?

Located in the flood-carved Palouse River Canyon, Palouse Falls State Park was first documented in 1841 but was used for centuries by the Native Americans of the region. 

The park, dedicated in 1951, protects one of the last active waterfalls on the Ice Age floods path and is part of the Ice Age Floods National Geological Trail. The falls is also Washington’s state waterfall, officially designated in 2014 when schoolchildren wrote to the state Legislature and advocated for the naming.

Many artists set up at Palouse Falls State Park. You’ll find painters diligently working and photographers waiting to capture that perfect shot. The 94 acres provide a beautiful area to have a picnic, view wildlife, or sit by the majestic falls.

Where Can You See Palouse Falls?

There are three viewpoints visitors can hike to see Palouse Falls. The lower viewpoint provides a direct view and is easily reached by going down a set of steps near the main day-use parking lot.

The second viewpoint is at the end of the interpretive path that details the canyon’s story. A final viewpoint can be reached at Fryxell Overlook. This is the highest viewpoint of the three and offers panoramic views of the falls and canyon.

Tips For Visiting Palouse Falls State Park

Remember that parking is limited when you’re ready to visit Palouse Falls State Park. You’ll want to arrive early in the day. If you can visit on a weekday, you’ll have better luck as people tend to experience long wait times to enter the park on weekends.

Swimming isn’t allowed at Palouse Falls State Park, but nearby Lyons Ferry State Park has designated swimming areas. Although camping was allowed in the past, currently, there’s no camping allowed at Palouse Falls State Park.

When visiting any state park or National Park, always check the weather. Depending on the season, Palouse Falls State Park can experience extreme heat and cold conditions. 

The park also has no cell service due to its remote location. You’re far from amenities and emergency help, so bring plenty of water to enjoy your trip to Palouse Falls State Park.

Keep in Mind: It’s illegal to hike to Mossbrae Falls, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it anyway!

Can You Camp At Palouse Falls State Park?

Currently, no camping is allowed at Palouse Falls State Park. However, in the past, the park has provided a tent-only campground with 11 primitive campsites and a pit toilet. The closest campground is the Lyons Ferry Marina KOA

View of palouse falls state park

Can You See the Northern Lights At Palouse Falls State Park?

Although not mentioned on the state park’s website, one Google reviewer said being able to see the Northern Lights at Palouse Falls State Park. 

He wrote, “My favorite waterfall! Had a lovely time watching the Northern Lights here in late February. If you’re lucky enough to line up your visit with the space weather, this is one of my favorite spots in Washington to watch the Aurora.” If you’re local, consider venturing out to view this natural phenomenon.

Keep in Mind: You don’t have to fly to another country to see the Northern Lights! Here’s Where (and When) You Can See the Northern Lights in the US

What Visitors Are Saying About Palouse Falls State Park

Visitors love the waterfall’s beauty and the state park’s remote location. Rory Silva shared, “Absolutely epic waterfall in the middle of nowhere. Worth the detour on the way to or from Spokane to Oregon. It’s a beautiful showcase of ice age flooding. Highly recommended.”

Suzanne Stauss, another Google reviewer, wrote, “My daughter and I drove here to watch the sunrise. We had the park to ourselves and a gorgeous morning. It is easy to find but also out in the middle of nowhere.

I liked it because it is accessible. There are a few trails to wander around, not really a hiking kind of park. But anyone can get to the spot to see the falls, which are SPECTACULAR. This will be a favorite spot for years to come.”

View of palouse falls state park

Is Palouse Falls Worth Visiting?

Palouse Falls State Park is off the beaten path in Washington. You have to make an effort to visit, but it’s totally worth it!

This hidden gem provides a place of tranquility, an escape from the day-to-day stresses of life. The falls are spectacular, and the scenery is beautiful. You won’t regret taking a detour to visit.

Is there a state park that has been a hidden gem during your travels?

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