An Artist’s Dream

The state’s waterfall, Palouse Falls, is a light show for artists.
The state’s waterfall, Palouse Falls, is a light show for artists. Photo by Jason Hummel Photography/State of Washington Tourism

Palouse Falls shows a million faces at dusk and dawn

written by Joni Kabana

Did you know that Washington has a state waterfall? Designated in 2014 when resident schoolchildren wrote and submitted (and ultimately saw the approval of) a legislative bill, Palouse Falls, near Perry, upholds this declaration with majesty.

Visitors travel along a bumpy road to reach these falls, often wondering if they are on the right road. Persistent adventurers are in for a delightful surprise when, after first hearing the roaring waterfall, they come upon the vast view into the rugged valley.

Artists are often seen painting plein air in silence and photographers await the spectacular light of sunrise and sunset. Carved more than 13,000 years ago during the Ice Age Floods, Palouse River runs through a spectacular cataract and then cascades downward 200 feet into a tumultuous water bowl. Rapid currents flow through basalt rock columns to the wild Snake River.

While many travel to this area in summer, the best time to go is off-season when colors are saturated and visitors sparse. A common phrase—once is not enough—is often associated with Palouse Falls as the light changes, giving credence to its nickname, “an artist’s dream.”

Extreme heat and cold are common experiences here so check the weather before departing and dress accordingly. Bring all supplies, including food and lots of water, and make sure your gas tank is full or battery charged, as there are no amenities nearby. There is also no cell coverage at the falls.

Above all, leave no trace of your visit other than your photos or paintings, and stay on designated paths to ensure protection of the natural landscape. Above all, be prepared to daydream.

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