Visit This West Coast State Park For Dramatic Waterfall Views

Waterfalls are inarguably one of the wonders of the natural world; their crashing cascades are awe-inspiring and captivating, even to outdoor adventurers who think they've seen it all. For dramatic waterfall views and stunning canyon vistas, drive out to the West Coast to Palouse Falls State Park.

Nestled in Eastern Washington is Palouse Falls State Park, a 94-acre park home to basalt canyons, thriving prairies, and, of course, the 200-foot Palouse Falls. This cascade, fed by the Palouse River, formed around 13,000 years ago during the Ice Age Floods, an event that shaped much of the Pacific Northwest's landmarks you see today. In recognition of its beauty, Palouse Falls was named the official state waterfall of Washington in 2014. Unlike many natural waterfalls that require a hike to reach, the overlooks of Palouse Falls can be easily accessed — making it much more family and beginner-friendly than other wild destinations.

Before heading into the park, Washington State requires visitors to purchase the Discover Pass for $10.00 per day. After you have your pass in hand, your water bottle filled, and your camera packed, you're ready to journey to this West Coast state park.

How to best view the falls

The park has three unique observation points that offer unobscured views of Palouse Falls and the surrounding wild landscape. The lowest viewpoint provides the most direct views of the stunning cascades. To reach this first site, you'll begin at the main day-use area near the first parking lot and follow a small set of steps leading right to the overlook. Simple as that!

The second overlook, which provides an elevated perspective, lies at the end of an interpretive foot trail detailing the park's history and Palouse Falls. As you wind up another short trail, you'll reach the third and highest viewpoint in the state park, known as the Fryxell Overlook. From here, you can peer down at the monumental cascades and take in sweeping views of the Palouse River Canyon. When venturing through the Palouse Falls State Park, it's important to stick to developed areas and these well-marked paths. In recent years, the pool at the bottom of the falls and several cliffside trails were closed due to safety concerns.

Exploring more of the park

While the picturesque Palouse Falls is the star of the state park, there are more nature-filled activities to partake in during your trip. The shrubsteppe grassland blanketing the park is considered one of the most diverse ecosystems in Washington. This unique environment makes the area a prime spot for birdwatching. Species such as the devilish-looking horned larks and brightly-colored western kingbirds can be seen in the sagebrush. While looking up above, it's common to see golden eagles and ferruginous hawks soaring through the sky.

What's more, other wildlife can be observed roaming the park, including coyotes, deer, yellow-bellied marmots, rabbits, rattlesnakes, and much more. Once you've finished exploring the scenic state park and snapping a couple of photos, head back to the main day-use area, where you can find a picnic table and enjoy a light bite. Travelers seeking a short yet worthwhile nature-filled reprieve: Head to Palouse Falls State Park for the day.