May 27, 2012

The Palouse

Have you ever heard of the Palouse?  Neither had I until about six years ago when my friend Noreen and I visited western Idaho.  I remember admiring the rolling, golden hills, but I was totally blown away when I saw photographs of those same hills when they were a vivid green.  I thought it would be amazing to see the Palouse in the spring when the hills were green, and I kept that idea filed away in the back of my mind.  It seemed that the timing might be right for a visit to the Palouse on this trip, and for the last month or so I had been hoping that our path might take us there.  That’s exactly where we ended up today.

Along the Palouse Scenic Byway
The Palouse, which is noted for its unique topography, is located in rural, southeastern Washington, although a similar landscape also spills over to western Idaho and northeastern Oregon.  Rolling hills rise and fall in rapid succession, and resemble green dunes.  In fact, the hills are silt dunes blown in as glacial ice melted during the Ice Age.  The hills are planted primarily with wheat, and that’s what gives the landscape its apple-green color.  Lentils are also grown in the rich soil that is found here.  The hills are a patchwork quilt of varying shades of green this time of year.  Round roof barns added even more character to the region.

Rolling Hills
Picturesque Barns and Farms
Unique Topography
Fields of Wheat
We also visited Palouse Falls, another site created during the Ice Age floods.  Here a waterfall appears to emerge from the rock and cascades almost 200 feet into a round, basalt plunge pool.  A state park provides spectacular viewpoints. 
Palouse Falls
Tim at Palouse Falls
Palouse River Below the Falls
We happened upon the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown with its iconic wheel fence.  This former dairy barn is now an artisan center designed to showcase the work of local artists and to bring fine and folk art to the public.  The wheel fence was begun in the 1950s as a folk art project and is still evolving.  The fence is now comprised of more than 1,000 wheels.  We visited the artist’s studios and couldn’t help but leave with a few small items.

Dahmen Barn
Wheel Fence
We arrived in Clarkston and checked into a campground on the Snake River.  We snagged a waterfront site that had just become available on the Memorial Day weekend.  Unfortunately it started to rain so we couldn’t enjoy the setting as much as we would have liked.

Looking Down at Clarkston and Lewiston from Lewiston Hill


  1. I don't think I've ever heard of Palouse until now! Thanks for educating me. It's certainly wonderous. I love that fence and the hairpin turn in the road in the last picture must have been quite fun to build. ha ha LV

    1. LV, I only recently learned about the Palouse, and I'm happy to share the secret. There have been lots of hairpin turns lately, and I can't imagine how people build these roads! Sarah

  2. Sarah, I remember the Palouse and our trip. What a beautiful area!!!!! NF

    1. NF, That was such a fun trip. You'll have to come back to the Palouse and see it when it's green. Sarah

  3. I love it. I have never heard of this either. The wheel fence is my favorite. Love A

    1. A, It's been much fun to find things like the wheel fence while driving some of the back roads. Sarah