Palouse Falls, A Waterfall in Washington
The interesting thing about the Palouse Falls is that they are located in the desert landscape of Washington State. Viewing the falls gives you an immediate appreciation for the history and geology of the falls. The Palouse Falls stands at 180 feet tall and it took the Missoula floods to alter the landscape.
The Palouse River is a tributary of the Snake River today, but at the end of the Ice Age it flowed into the Pasco Basin of South Central Washington State. During this period, the ice dame on the Clark Fork River repeatedly broke open over 2000 years, allowing millions of tons of water to fan out over central and western Washington. The force from the water created three deep ravines on the die of Snake River Canyon. Originally there were three waterfalls flowing, but the recession of water over time, causing there to be only the Palouse Falls left. And this why there is a waterfall in the middle of the desert!
Visiting the state park is encouraged, and they even recommend staying a few nights at the rustic campgrounds. However this encouragement is only for part of the year, as Washington experiences very cold winters, thus making the park accessible only during the day from the end of September to the end of March.
The history surround the falls is rich. The name of the falls used to be the Aputapat Falls, but was renamed to honor the Palouse Indians that used to live there. According to the Palouse tribe the land where the falls are used to be flatter, without the water or the canyon. One day there were four giant brothers chasing a giant beaver, and another giant creature. They were able to spear the beaver, and each time he was hit he created a part of the canyon, when the last brother hit the beaver, the beaver turned to fight them. Legend has it that this fight carved the canyon from the ground, and it is believed that the canyon still shoes the beaver’s claws!
The water falling from the Palouse falls is a muddy brown as a result from the sediment in the water. The recess from where the water spills is due to erosion from the falling water. The erosion has increased over time due to there being more sediment in the water which has a souring effect on the rock.