When my wife told me that she was headed to Seattle for work, I knew immediately that I was going to tag along with her and make a side trip to the Palouse region of Eastern Washington. Most people may not be familiar with that name, but they’ve definitely seen photos of the area. Brilliant green, lush, rolling hills of tall wheat that seem to go on forever. Baby blue skies with fluffy white clouds. The surreal image on your Windows desktop. Yet it’s as real as can be, and it exists right there in Washington, just west of the Idaho border.
The Palouse Scenic Byway stretches 208 miles, weaving in and out of these amazing green hills of wheat. Some of the farm towns along the way include Colfax, Palouse, and Pullman, where I made my home base for the week. I took my little Nissan Versa rental and left Seattle early Monday morning to make the 4.5 hour trek eastbound. Only it took me about 6.5 hours because I stopped every 20 minutes to take photos.
I spent the next three days driving my Versa on every dirt road in the county, and then some. Like every trip I take, I spent the prior weeks scouting locations from the comfort of my own home, mainly via Google Maps. I created a custom map with about twenty places I wanted to explore and used my iPhone to help me navigate through countless dirt roads. Every now and then, I’d find a beautiful red barn or an old beat-up truck, and I’d just pull over on the side of the road and start shooting. Sometimes, I’d shoot for 30 minutes without even seeing one car.
I could have easily spent an entire week in the Palouse, but I had to be back in Seattle by Friday afternoon, and I still had another place I wanted to visit. About an hour and half west of Pullman lies Palouse Falls State Park. While people visit the park to hike, grill, and camp, the main feature is the grand waterfall that drops almost 200 feet into a swirling pool below. I was absolutely blown away that such an amazing waterfall exists within this canyon out there in the middle of nowhere. I spent a few hours hiking around the falls, waiting for the best light and trying out different angles. I wanted to stay after twilight to get some star trails, but the clouds were too thick to see anything. So around 9PM, I headed north to my hotel in Ritzville before making my way back to Seattle the next morning.
My four days in the Palouse were definitely memorable. And while I’ll still say that Bora Bora is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, strangely enough the Palouse region is almost as pleasing to the eye, albeit in a different way.
Here’s a full gallery from the trip.