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  • Writer's pictureChasingBuffaloesandBeyond

One Weekend Exploring Southeast Washington & Palouse Falls

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Washtucna, Washington - have you heard of this tiny town? How about Dayton, Washington? What about Starbuck, Washington - not Starbucks - Starbuck. Would you be surprised to find out that these tiny towns in the remote southeast corner of Washington State are brimming with beautiful vistas and the home to Washington State's official waterfall? Palouse Falls - the official state waterfall is an absolutely breathtaking sight - plunging 200 feet into the Palouse River below. Anyone traveling thru this corner of Washington and in fact, all Washingtonians should make an effort to visit this beautiful sight at least once - it's a sight you won't soon forget!

Blue skies and basalt cliffs surround 200 foot Palouse Falls.
One of the most scenic spots in Washington State - Palouse Falls!


DAY 1:

Tucannon River RV Park

Lyons Ferry State Park

Lyons Ferry Marina

DAY 2:

Little Goose Lock and Dam

Palouse Falls State Park



On a whim, we decided to do some early season camping in mid-April and found a lovely location at the Tucannon River RV Park. Located along the Tucannon River in Dayton, Washington this was a great place to spend a weekend - we thoroughly enjoyed the green grass of our campsite, the clean facilities and the welcoming hosts! If you are looking for a place to visit for a few days in Southeast Washington - this is a wonderful spot!



Day 1: For our first activity of the weekend, we headed to Lyons Ferry State Park. Located about a 12 minute drive up the road in Starbuck, Washington, we headed off to do some fishing and exploring. Named for the Lyons family that used to operate a ferry across the Snake River from 1860 to 1968 until a bridge was finally built across the river - this park is a true gem. Located at the confluence of the Snake and Palouse Rivers, the park provides a plethora of water based activities to choose from - swimming, fishing, kayaking, boating, etc. For us, we brought our kayaks and spent some time fishing on the Palouse River for catfish. The fish weren't biting that day, but as we paddled along the Palouse River we enjoyed the beautiful vistas and rolling hills that cover the landscape of the area. Covering 168 acres and offering over 52,000 feet of shoreline, Lyons Ferry State Park is a great place to spend the day! For those interested in history, the area was visited by Lewis and Clark in October 1805 as they were heading westward - for us, we are actually related to Lewis, so history of the Lewis and Clark expedition is always fascinating.



If you don't have a boat or kayak, across from Lyons Ferry State Park is the Lyons Ferry Marina on the Snake River that offers opportunities to fish from the shore. Later in the afternoon after no luck fishing the Palouse River, we headed across to Lyons Ferry Marina to try our hand fishing the Snake River from the docks there. After maybe 30 minutes and no bites, our 3 year old toddler was all fished out and it was time to head back to the campground. Good lessons to learn from an early age - it's called fishing - not catching and you don't always catch a fish!

Little boy fishing along the dock on the Snake River at Lyons Ferry Marina.
Fishing along the Snake River at Lyons Ferry Marina



Day 2: For our next day of adventuring our plan was to head to Palouse Falls State Park, which was located about 25 minutes up the road in Washtucna. As we were heading that way, we came across a sign pointing to Little Goose Lock and Dam - and being the adventurers that we are, we decided to take a detour before heading to Palouse Falls. As we turned off the main road we followed a scenic road along the Snake River that wound it's way out to Little Goose Lock and Dam. The views along the way were spectacular looking out over the river and the surrounding farmland. Reaching the dam, there was an overlook that provided for a wonderful view of the entire dam and locks. Little Goose Lock and Dam was built in the 1960's and is about 100 feet high and 2,655 feet long.

Puffy clouds over the Snake River surrounded by rolling farmland.
Scenic views over the Snake River and rolling farmlands.

Overlooking the Little Goose Lock and Dam along the Snake River.
Scenic view over Little Goose Lock and Dam along the Snake River



After we were done viewing the dam, it was time to continue onto Palouse Falls State Park. Palouse Falls State Falls is one of our favorite places in Washington State! As my husband and I both went to school in Eastern Washington this was a favorite stop to make as we traveled across the state to and from school. For us, it had been some time since our last visit and and this was the first time we were visiting with our son - so we were super excited to share this special place with him! Carved more than 13,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, Palouse Falls drops 200 feet to the Palouse River below and is a beautiful sight any time of the year! Surrounded by striking columnar basalt cliffs, the views offered here are a photographers dream! Arriving to Palouse Falls State Park, there are numerous observation points that offer different angles of the falls or you can opt for a hike to provide even better views - numerous trails are available in the area. After spending a good amount of time enjoying the views and taking lots of pictures it was time to head home! Spending a weekend in Southeast Washington was absolutely wonderful and should be on the must-do list for all Washingtonians or anyone traveling thru this part of the country.


Interested in planning your own trip to Southwest Washington and Palouse Falls? Below is our summarized itinerary for you to follow or adjust to your own preferences. ENJOY!

Day 1: Arrive to Tucannon River RV Park. Spend the day at Lyons Ferry State Park - enjoy some time in the Palouse River - bring a kayak and fish. Enjoy the day use area in park for playing in the river. Cross the street over to Lyons Ferry Marina - fish from the docks.

Day 2: Drive out along the Snake River to Little Goose Lock and Dam - enjoy the overlook. Then head to Palouse Falls State Park - enjoy the various scenic overlooks and hike along the various trails offered at the park.

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