Two years ago, REI started a campaign called #OptOutside which encourages people to get outside and explore! Since we were in Eastern Washington spending Thanksgiving weekend with my family, we decided to explore Palouse Falls for a sunrise hike on Black Friday. Read on to be inspired to get outside, and plan an adventure that’s near you!
What To Expect From A Sunrise Hike At Palouse Falls
For starters, Palouse Falls is a 2-hour drive from Spokane. More specifically, it’s 1-hour south of Ritzville, near the town of Washtucna. This area is fed by the Palouse River and enters the larger Snake River. This is a popular attraction because it is considered one of the lasting remnants of the ice-age glacial floods. In 2014, the roaring 200ft falls was declared Washington’s state waterfall.
Visiting Palouse Falls State Park requires a Discovery Pass. This pass gives you access to all Washington state parks, natural areas, and over 2,000 miles of trails!. You can purchase a day pass usually on-site for $10 and/or an annual pass for $30.
Read More: 8 Steps For Planning A Flawless Weekend Trip
For this visit, we came in late November. We can’t really tell you what kind of weather to expect, because we hiked Palouse Falls two years ago and it looked like this…
FROZEN IN 2015.
Our best advice is to check the forecast and dress for the weather. Warmer is always better – you can take off layers if you get too hot. Also, as far as safety is concerned, if the weather is bad, please just consider not going. Parts of the trail require you to traverse a rock wall and one slip means you’re in the river. Don’t risk your life or your friends lives for a photo op. Always go when it’s safe. Palouse Falls trails are recommended from May to October.
To begin our journey, we descended down into the canyon on an unmarked trail. I tried doing research to find the “official” Palouse Falls trail and this one came close, but it didn’t describe the exact route. Just a reminder, when hiking an unmarked trail, you are always taking a risk. The weather was great the day of our hike and we determined it was safe. However, this may not be the case for you – so use your best judgement. We’ve heard of hikers who have died on trails we’ve taken, and safety is no joke to us. Be careful!
After a short walk past the official overlook, we soon met a steep rock trail that descended into the canyon. To enter, you must climb down into the canyon over the rocks. Be careful because they can be loose at times. Someone installed a rope for balance, and it helped on the way back up.
Once inside the canyon, there are trails to follow along the river’s edge/canyon walls. Continue on the trails to the left to get a closer view of the waterfall.
This is of what part of the trail looks like (pictures taken on the return trip). The water levels were high this day, which meant that the trail was very narrow. We spent this section traversing a rock wall, using all limbs to prevent us from falling into the freezing cold water. We had to go pretty slow because we had backpacks with cameras – eek!
Once the narrow path opened up again, we were right in front of Palouse Falls. We spent lots of time enjoying the view, taking pictures, and watching the sun spill into the canyon! Here are some snapshots from the journey:
Thanks to our adventure crew, Katie, Joseph, and Cory for waking up at 4:00am to see a bunch of water fall into a huge bowl! It was a lot of fun to get outside and explore early in the morning!
Want more Washington State inspiration? Click on our interactive map to explore more!
Would you explore Palouse Falls? Share who you would go with in the comments below!
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