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Visiting Palouse Falls: Everything You Need To Know Before Going To Palouse Falls


Modified: September 26, 2023

by Kim Lee

Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls is one of America’s most stunning and beautiful places to be. As the main beauty in eastern Washington, it has garnered a lot of admirers who truly affirm that it is a striking landscape. Nature couldn’t have done a better job.


When on your way to Palouse Falls, the main question on your minds will be, “Is there really a waterfall here?” Do you want know why? The trip to Palouse Falls State Park is one that is through wastelands. A dry wilderness so to speak.


When you arrive at the falls, you forget our previous thoughts. Our minds were consumed by the magnificent beauty of the Palouse Falls.


Here are some tips that will help make your journey go a little smoother! Do take note that there are a few pitfalls to you will need to pass through in order to see Palouse Falls. You will have the advantage of learning from our experience. We will be answering a few Frequently Asked Questions in detail.


Let’s dive right in…

Palouse Falls

Photo by Atanas Malamov on unsplash


How do I prepare to get to the Palouse Falls?

You need to get some things ready before heading to Palouse Falls. These are not just physical items but your mental state will need to be prepared too. Try to make a checklist. You don’t want to forget anything!



Prepare For The Heat

Unless you are going in the winter, which is not discouraged, by the way, you need to be prepared for the scorching heat. It makes hiking a challenge. Rest assured, the view of Palouse Falls is totally worth it.



Pack Plenty Of Bottled Water

When we say this, bear in mind that we mean “as much as you can carry comfortably”. Just know that there are no vendors around to purchase more water should you run out. So pack as much as you think you might need while maintaining a bearable load. 



Bring Exact Cash & Small Change

There is no one to give you your change. And unless you want to donate to the pay stations, you might want to have everything ready. Small change will make your trip over at Palouse Falls much less frustrating than if you had only arrived with large notes.



Fill Your Gas Tank

Sorry, no gas stations on the way there. Remember what we said about wastelands? Well, you’re not gonna open a gas station there are you? So have your tank filled before making the final lap of your journey. Consider even taking a spare canister of fuel with you!



Make The Necessary Sleeping Arrangements

Unless you arrive super early or are extremely lucky and get a camping space. Camping spots are pretty limited there, so you might want to be ready if you wanna spend the night.


How do I get to Palouse Falls State Park, Washington?

Since we can’t possibly know where each of you are travelling from, modify your travelling arrangements to start your journey from Seattle, Washington.


You can take a flight from Seattle to the following places and then drive from there:

  • Walla Walla
  • Pasco
  • Pullman
  • Spokane


Our personal route began at Spokane so those of you planning to depart from Spokane are in luck!


From Spokane, drive west on 1-90 for 60 miles to Ritzville, drive south on SR 261 for 27 miles to Washtucna. Then, from Washtucna, drive South West for 5.7 miles on SR 260 to McAdams. Turn South East onto SR 261 and drive for 8.8 miles. Continue to follow the signs to Palouse Falls Road. Lastly, turn left and drive for 2.4 miles to Washington State Parks.


How Do I Make Payments Once At The Park To Palouse Falls?

If you’re the sort of person who prefers to have everything ready the night before any departure, there are some online outlets to buy a Discover Pass that you will need at Palouse Falls.


Remember that it may be almost impossible to get cell service at Palouse Falls, so it will be difficult to make any form of online payments at Washington State Parks. However, there are automated pay stations at the park of Palouse Falls.


To buy a day’s pass, what you do is:

  • Go up to the collection boxes at the park main entrance.
  • Pay your $10 fee into the box. (see why you should bring the exact amount. Credit card is not accepted)
  • Collect an envelope and fill in your details.
  • There’s a section of the envelope that you tear off and place on your dashboard.
  • Ensure the part with your license number on it is facing the windshield.


What Is There To Do At Palouse Falls State Park?

The park doesn’t have a lot of extras built into it so you will have to do the basics. However by basics, we mean hiking, swimming, camping, kayaking. Really get in touch with all the wonderful things nature has to offer! 


The Views From The Palouse Falls State Park

The views of the park are truly extraordinary. Palouse Falls State Park offers three different spectacular views of Palouse Falls.


The first is the lower viewpoint which offers a direct view of the fall, and an amazing one at that. This viewpoint is reached by a set of steps going from the main day use area next to the parking lot. Remember to take plenty of beautiful pictures with your camera. Not just as a memory but as evidence of nature’s beauty. You might even feel inspired enough to awaken the artist within you and do some painting or sketching. 


Palouse Falls

Photo by Michael Denning on Unsplash


The second viewpoint is reached by moving to the end of the paved interpretative path. This interpretative path is a must-see for history and geology enthusiasts. It tells the amazing story of the near-secret canyon and how it came to be.


The third viewpoint gives you the highest view of the area. The Fryxell Overlook. It lets you look down on the waterfall and the surrounding area. We all know that looking down on things is always the best view. It is reached by following both the interpretative path and the gravel secondary parking area.


Hiking At Palouse Falls…

There are a lot of hiking trails that are there to give you a scenic path to every part of Palouse Falls. There’s a trail that leads you to where you can stand above the falls. It is an awe-inspiring view. There’s also a trail that leads you along the canyon walls which is also a striking beauty on its own.


Additonally, you will find a trail that leads down to the water. This particular trail is already damaged in some parts by erosion. But that shouldn’t stop you. If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie, consider rappelling down.


However, that is not as extreme as it gets. When going back up, it requires some rock climbing. You also have to watch out for falling rocks.


Remember to be careful when following unmarked trails. As they are not fenced, don’t take small children on those particular trails. The view from the guardrails are amazing and you can see the awesome rock formations. You can also take your children as it offers safety for them. But not as much as you can offer, so be there with them.


Swimming At Palouse Falls…

Palouse Falls

Photo by John Westrock on Unsplash


We mentioned earlier that it can get uncomfortably hot at the Washington State Parks. Well, this is a very good counter to it. Soaking in the cold water of the Palouse Falls is refreshing in the hot weather.


The flow of Palouse Falls is higher in the spring so water levels are more than high enough for you to take a dip in. However, even around the fall when the flow is lower, you will still find great swimming spots around the Palouse River.


Alternatively, if for one reason or the other you can’t swim in Palouse Falls, you can hike down the canyon to the Lyon Ferry State Park. There is an amazing swim area there. Be careful not to get too close to the falling water when the flow is high or to the canyon walls.


Camping At Palouse Falls…

Camping at the falls is a unique experience depending on where you are at. Visitors have complained about feeling exposed when camping around the parking lot. If you want a truly unique experience, you have to pick a camping site that is secluded.


Here is the pricing for the camping sites:

  • $12 for the primitive sites
  • $20 – $35 for a standard campsite
  • $25 – $40 for partial utilities
  • $30 – $45 for full utilities


The check-in time is 2.30pm and check out time is 1.00pm.


Kayaking In Palouse River…

You can kayak in the river below Palouse Falls. It is especially more exciting during the high flow of the Palouse Falls in the spring.


I would advise against going around breaking world records though. Do not kayak down the fall unless you are a professional.


Tourist Secrets…

  • Obey the signs: Some of the signs were put there after accidents cost some people their lives. Don’t use a trail that has been marked in such a way.
  • Pay the $30 year pass: When buying a pass, pay for the year pass instead of the day pass. It also gives you unlimited access to all the state parks in the area.
  • Hold your children: Children are apt to go running about and the Palouse Falls is not a place you let them do that. Keep your children close.