WATER, 200 VERTICAL FEET OF IT, shoots down a sheer rock face and crash-lands in a fury of splashes. This is breathtaking Palouse Falls, made all the more dramatic by the fact that it’s tucked away in this hilly agricultural region.The falls are my first stop on the Palouse Scenic Byway, a 208-mile network of roads that winds through photogenic hills and among a handful of charming little towns.
Leaving the falls, I head east on SR 26, pulling over just past Dusty, a tiny burg (population: about 10) filled with quaint charm, to take pictures of the fields. In this part of the state, agriculture becomes art: the arches of the green hills contrast with the bright blue sky, and crumbling barns with mossy roofs dot the landscape.
In Colfax I switch to SR 272 and continue on to Palouse, home to just about 1,000 people and a handful of antique shops. Fueled by a pecan-laden cinnamon roll from Mimi’s Bakery on Beach Street, I start my shopping at Dot’s, a well-curated collection of retro “funk.” From there, Main Street rewards me with more antiquing, a peek into the Bank Left Gallery, and a latte at the busy Green Frog Cafe.
Leaving Palouse with a “new” turn-of-the-century casserole dish and a half-dozen old pop bottles, I head south onto SR 27 to Pullman, a college town with its own charming—and much larger—downtown. The WSU Creamery is here, scooping ice cream in a quaint parlor, as well as the stuck-in-the-seventies Cougar Country Drive-In. But today I’m on the hunt for scenery and old-time charm, so I continue on to Uniontown, passing through more gorgeous country on the way.
In Uniontown, I stop at St. Boniface, the first consecrated church in the state, for a quiet moment amid beautiful stained glass, then beeline for the Sage Baking Co., housed in the 1893 Jacobs Brewery Building. The airy brick cafe serves soups and sandwiches, but I’m more interested in the divine blackberry scones. From my sunny spot by a window, I can see to the southern end of Main Street, where town gives way to country, the pavement winding off into rolling golden hills.
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EVER SINCE LEWIS AND CLARK paddled down the Snake River back in 1805, word has been getting out about Southeast Washingtons splashy outdoor scene.
Natural and man-made wonders in the Palouse
Dabble in Daytons diversions.
KNOWN FOR its fertile rolling hills and land-grant universities, the southeastern region has more to offer than just amber waves of grain.
Touring the Palouse with camera in hand.
PUNCTUATED BY ANCIENT rock formations, roaming wildlife, and reminders of days gone by, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is deeper than the Grand Canyon, and nearly as remote.
Water, 200 vertical feet of it, shoots down a sheer rock face andcrash-lands in a fury of splashes. This is breathtaking Palouse Falls,made all the more dramatic by the fact that its tucked away in thishilly agricultural region.
Although best known for waves of grain, the Palouse has fostered other edible delights, too, including baked goods, fine cheeses, and even lentil ice cream.
THERES NO CONTEST when it comes to the depths of Hells Canyons black-and-buff walls.
Tucked in the heart of the rolling Palouse hills is Pullman, home to nearly 30,000 residents; Washington State University; a 4,500-pound bronze cougar; and, once a year, a very large bowl of chili.