The Palouse is a vast region of non-irrigated farmland located primarily in Eastern Washington. There is also some spillover into Idaho around the Moscow/Lewiston area. After looking at my atlas and Google Earth I discovered that I didn’t need to keep on driving over to Washington to get a comparable Palouse experience. All I had to do was drive about 15 minutes from Moscow and I’d be surrounded by the fields. (I’m aware that fields are visible from Moscow, but to see nothing but fields around you is the best Palouse experience, in my opinion.)
Rather than get up early for sunrise I got up a little later (6:00am) and had a decent breakfast before heading out. I was on the road by 6:50, thoroughly enjoying the dense fog. Unfortunately, some of the roads I was planning on driving were blocked off. Despite the “well maintained” designation my atlas gives, a good portion is just dirt and not gravel. Concrete barriers were placed across the road where the gravel ended and will remain so until springtime.
Despite the contretemps I continued exploring new areas. I eventually made the steep descent into Juliaetta, Idaho. (This town is named after the first postmasters’ two daughters, Julia and Etta). I was looking for another grade to take me up and over the hills and down to the Clearwater River. McCrary Grade (I believe that was the name) did just this. I ascended into the fog once again, took Hubbard Gulch Road down and came out at the Clearwater River, near Cherrylane. I had seen a potential hike along a creek near this area. Once I got there, the typical signs were posted: “No Trespassing” and “Private Property.” Perhaps I could have continue but I decided to head towards US HWY 12. I’m continually disappointed by the lack of public lands up North. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of National Forest and trails (and some Wilderness Study Areas) but I’ve become spoiled by the wide open spaces of the Owyhees and the vast expanses of public land.
I finished my exploration by taking Coyote Gulch Road from US HWY 12 towards Genesee. I was afforded some nice views of Catholic Creek Gulch which is right on the edge of the Palouse. It was a great morning and a productive trip. I now know there are nice Palousian fields just outside of Moscow. Actually some of the best scenery I’ve seen was along a couple of the roads I was on today. Still, there are many other roads in Washington I have yet to drive so I’m sure there’s better scenery somewhere out there.