Photographing the Palouse


Rolling hills of the Palouse


An item on my bucket list was to get to the Palouse region of Washington/Idaho and try to capture the beauty of this unusual terrain.  The wheat and canola infused rolling loess hills can create a magical portrait of color and texture, and they almost didn’t disappoint.  Due to the unusual wet winter this year (winter 2016/2017), the wheat fields were late to be planted and the canola fields were still barren.  But never fear, the beautiful hills were still on display making this traveler/photog want to stop every few feet to get yet another shot.   There were more colors of green than I’ve ever seen both in the Palouse and surrounding areas.

We drove over 10 hours on day one to get from home in California to Baker City, Oregon, which then allowed us to drive leisurely the next day into Colfax, Washington where we would base our stay for the next couple of days.   Day two afforded a beautiful drive on Highway 82 through Elgin, Minam following the Wallowa river, and then north on Highway 3 through the Wallowa/Whitman National Forest to Lewiston, Idaho where we picked up Highway 195 for the final leg into Colfax, Washington.

Joseph Band Canyon – an expansive landscape with lovely greens still apparent even in late Spring.

Spectacular Dogwoods in both white and pink hues in Lewiston, Idaho.  Many residential and commercial properties sported these beautiful trees.

Silly stuff happened on the way.

Near the Grande Ronde River and Boggan’s Oasis, ravages of a winter storm flood were evident along the road.  Crews were working hard to reinforce the road and clear the debris brought down by the waters.

For the next couple of days, we wandered through the region, traveling from Colfax through Pullman, Palouse, Garfield and Moscow, Id.  The highest point in the Palouse, Steptoe Butte, made for grand views of the entire region.

A view from Steptoe Butte

A farmer working the field – the size of fields in Palouse dwarf the size of large machinery!

Couldn’t resist this shot of Idaho Syringa with a small farmhouse in the background.

Even though some of the fields had yet to be planted, the textured patchwork made for interesting abstracts.

Back to ground level, I found some interesting landscape and sights to photograph.

Local crop duster doing his thing,  trying to ignore somewhat intrusive photogs trying to capture his flight.

Start of his pass over a field.

Farmhouse and barn

Palouse Falls lies about one hour or so west of Colfax and was well worth the short drive to see the Washington State’s official Falls.  The Palouse River at that point appears to flow out of barren earth to continue down a very impressive canyon; a miniature Grand Canyon comes to mind.

Palouse Falls

Palouse River and canyon

We didn’t just stop at the main attractions.  A quick stop at a town named Starbuck was absolutely necessary just because of the name.  No, there are no Starbucks Coffee in Starbuck, but there was some interesting architecture.


Tilting structure in Starbuck, Wa



Dayton, Washington train station



Alpaca farm outside of Pendleton, Oregon.


It was well worth the long drive from California to Washington to see and learn about the Palouse geology with the added bonus of some interesting towns along the way.


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