Palouse River

I’ve wanted to head back to Palouse Falls since my first visit a couple months ago.  The reason is more for the high desert experience than for the falls and photos (though photos are always on the agenda).  I had decided to spend Saturday driving around taking pictures as long as the weather cooperated.  Unfortunately the weather forecast was too correct:  mostly sunny morning giving way to clouds and rain.

I awoke early, as usual for photo days, and headed to Elberton, WA.  I had seen a picture or two with a nice view of Steptoe Butte overlooking the Palouse River.  I found the spot with plenty of time to set up and shoot.  It was a good, cold morning for photographs.  The bit of fall color surrounding the river was a nice addition.


Dawn over Elberton, WA


After the dawn conditions gave way to sunrise, I headed down to Elberton and drove along the river looking for photo ops.  The frost was thick on the banks and I began anticipating fog along the river as the sun rose.  I found a decent spot but not wholly to my liking.  The road eventually went of the small canyon and into the rolling hills.  I turned around and drove back through being even more deliberate.  Finally on the other side of Elberton (east side) I found some nice views with thick fog engulfing the forest above the river.


Fog along the Palouse River



Sunrays and fog along the Palouse River


It was nearing 8:00am and the sun was close to being covered up by incoming clouds.  Since the conditions were quickly deteriorating I decided to take a break from driving around looking for shots.  My intention was to be at Palouse Falls in the afternoon, keeping my fingers crossed that there would be nice sunset.  I stayed true to the former, but the nice sunset never came–just clouds and intermittent rain.

To pass the time between the morning and afternoon shoot I decided to go up to Spokane and see my friends Barnes and Noble.  I picked up a couple new books and began a big, circuitous loop back down to Palouse Falls.  I took I-90 down the Sprague, WA and then took a network of gravel and paved roads weaving through the Scablands and Palouse.  It was a great drive and satisfied my longing for high desert scenery.  I will definitely head back to this area (and take photos too…not the best conditions this time around).

At Palouse Falls I hiked to the backside of the falls and then downstream a short way.  The backside hike afforded me views of the Upper Falls.  There is a nice trail that goes down the upper falls, but the cloudy conditions weren’t the best for lower angle shots of the falls and canyon.  I fooled around there for a while and then headed back up to where the vantage points were better given the weather.  I proceeded to hike around the top and see the main falls.  I took the typical wide angle shot of the (distorted) falls and canyon.  I did a slight perspective crop but the falls still had a gross unnatural lean to it.  I then hiked downstream but not too far.  The rain was picking up and the scenery was a simple continuation of a terraced canyon and river.  Better weather would have been nice (puffy clouds) but I’m sure I’ll go back when such conditions are present.

I’ll end with a couple of shots from the falls area.  The interesting thing to note is that all the pictures are from the same river.  If I were to drive from my dawn location to the falls, it would take about and hour and half.  But during that time the river goes from a nice meandering stream through the hills of the Palouse to a mini Colorado River imitator.  The transition from Palouse to Scablands is very abrupt yet very beautiful (to me, at least).


Upper Palouse Falls



Palouse Falls



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