I saw photos of Steptoe Butte and Palouse Falls on a calendar and knew that I needed to take a trip to Eastern Washington for a closer look. The Butte was named after Col. Edward Steptoe who fought (and lost) a battle against our native population at nearby Pine Creek in 1858. There is a paved road that spirals up to the parking lot at the top. The view point is approximately a 1,000 feet above the surrounding rolling hills that were created by the ancient floods. The farmers fields provide a remarkable patchwork quilt of colors and textures. We saw a fellow take off from the parking lot on his hang glider while we were there and reportedly spooked a moose out of a patch of trees. I never thought I would say this but he saw a moose, loose on the Palouse.
We stayed over night at Colfax and drove to Palouse Falls the next morning. The falls is very impressive and it drops about 180′ into a large pool. A man went over the falls in a kayak to get into the Guinness Book of Records but I don’t know why. We watches a Prairie Falcon soaring below us in the canyon and then it soared just overhead. We also got a good look at a couple of Yellow Bellied Marmots. They waddled across the trail just ahead of us and then stretched out on the rocks to sun themselves.
We journeyed south through Walla Walla and Milton-Freewater and then east toward Enterprise. We turned south on Summit Road on Mt Emily and enjoyed 43 miles of prime wildflowers along the roadway. This is one of our favorite viewing areas and we saw our wild Peony and Mountain Ladyslippers along with many other native flowers. The only time that we were ever disappointed on this road was when there was three feet of snow.
We stayed the night in Pendleton and the next morning we went south on Hwy 395 and then took the Hepner Hwy back to I-84. We crossed the Columbia to Washington and drove up Dalles Mountain Road and went over the hill and took the Lyle-Goldendale Road back to Hwy 14. Then it was west to Stevenson and across the bridge to Cascade Locks to I-84 and home to Gresham.
Lots of miles on this trip (a little over a thousand), great scenery and wonderful wildflowers. You have to stop and enjoy the beauty while you can because we may not pass by this way again.