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The Palouse


The Palouse

The Palouse Is a region of  Southeastern Washington where there are no continuous valleys, and the hills do not connect to make long ridges. These hills were not created by rivers and streams but instead by silt deposits. The Palouse still is the world’s leader in the production of soft white winter wheat. The combination of mild winters, wet springs and dry summers creates the ideal conditions for the crop.


There are no fees to photograph in the Palouse, however it is mostly private property and you should ask permission before entering any fields or buildings.  There are several locations that require a Washington state Discover Pass including Steptoe Butte, Kamiak Butte, and Palouse Falls.  A one day pass is $11.00 or an annual pass is $33.00 and can be purchased online here.

What to Photograph:

The natural form of the land gives unique form, shape, and shadows. Add to this the lines and patterns of farming, a great deal of color, and you have the recipe for great photography.  This time of year the Palouse offers rolling hills of green wheat, yellow flowering canola, and pea and lentil for as far as the eye can see.  Toss in an old weathered red barn, a grain silo, and an old truck and you have picture perfect rural America.

Possible Photo Subjects

  • Rolling Fields of Green and Yellow
  • Vistas From Steptoe Butte
  • Grain Silos and Elevators
  • Old Barns
  • Abandoned Houses
  • Manning-Rye Covered Bridge
  • T.A. Leonard Barn
  • Farm Equipment
  • Night Sky
  • Windmills
  • Small Town Rural America

Palouse Falls which drops from a height of 198-feet with high volumes of water flow in spring and early summer. The canyon at the falls is 377 feet deep, exposing a large cross-section of the Columbia River Basalt Group. These falls and the canyon downstream were created by the great Missoula Floods that swept periodically across eastern Washington and across the Columbia River Plateau.


Best Time for Photographers:

The Palouse changes thru the seasons and excellent photos can be made at anytime.  The peak time for catching the bright green and yellow color of the fields is in May and June.  In July and August the fields turn gold and harvesting is in process providing a whole new range of photo subjects.  Early in the morning and late evening will bring out the full form and texture of the rolling hills sculpted by light and shadow.

Getting There:

Driving Directions

From Seattle, take I-90 east to Vantage, then SR-26 east to the starting point just past Washtucna. The 208-mile byway is neither a loop nor a straight line, but includes sections of various highways in southeast Washington that crisscross and connect several small farm communities. The byway begins when SR-26 reaches the Palouse River near Hooper and continues east, then north, south and west.


Interactive Google Map

Use the map  + – controls to zoom in and out, click and drag the to move the map, use the Map drop-down to change to “Map”, “Satellite”, “Hybrid”, or “Terrain” views.  Drag the little man icon from the upper left corner to a map location for street level view.

Location Contact Information:


Pullman Chamber of Commerce

415 N. Grand Ave., Washington, 99163

Colfax Chamber of Commerce

623 N Perkins Ave, Colfax, WA 99111
Mailing address: PO Box 706
Colfax, WA 99111
Phone: 509-553-9729

Palouse Photo Gallery

Click Here for full page gallery

More Photographic Destinations in Washington:

Interactive Google Map

Use the map  + – controls to zoom in and out, use the Map drop-down to change to “Map”, “Satellite”, “Hybrid”, or “Terrain” views.  Drag the little man icon from the upper left corner to a map location for street level view. Click on a pushpin for more information about the Photographic Destination, then click on the title to go to the location page.

Click Here for Photographic Destinations by State




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