Weekend road trip to the Palouse

I had seen photos and I had heard stories of photographers flocking to the Palouse, in Eastern Washington state, but to me it was always this elusive destination in my backyard. Every time I had been to the area, it was the wrong season or I couldn’t find anything to shoot. This time I was determined to catch a glimpse of what all the hub-bub was about and hopefully have time to take some good photos. The trip ended up being a balance of trying not to bore Dave and a race for good light, not to mention too much time to spare during the wrong light. Without going into the details, which are pretty uninteresting as far as I’m concerned, I can tell you that I got a few shots of the elusive Palouse, but nothing like I had hoped for. At least I had planned some time at Palouse Falls which made for some decent landscape photography, not to mention some unexpected wildlife photography. Still, not exactly what I was hoping for.Palouse Falls at sunsetPalouse Falls sunset

Because it was sort of a failed trip (at least as far as photography is concerned), I came away with a few suggestions:

1. Book your accommodations or camping in advance. My understanding was that a lot of the campgrounds were first come first serve, but that was not always the case. We kept ending up at viewpoints at mid-day and were not willing to sit around for 8 hours waiting for good light, while missing the opportunity to find a camp site during the day. If you are camping, I recommend Kamiak Butte County Park as a nice place for tent camping with fairly isolated sites. This one is first come first serve though, so be there early if you can to claim a spot. 2. The good thing about claiming our site early is that we had plenty of time to hike the many great trails at Kamiak Butte, and for me that meant scouting when it came time for sunset. Even if I didn’t make it to the right spot in time, I got a great work out hiking that trail to the top twice in one day. With that said, try your best to be at your chosen viewpoints before sunset or sunrise. I didn’t think about the huge shadow of the gigantic hill I was standing on, which screwed up my timing. Also, be sure to visit during June/July, the most popular time for photography.Palouse from Steptoe Butte3. Make sure you have a good map! Do not rely on your phone for GPS. There is a photographer’s highlights map that I was given, but several of the sites and roads that I tried seemed to be inaccurate. Still, you can use the map to get yourself to the general area and then feel free to explore the back roads. This was pretty fun for us, even if I didn’t see everything I had hoped to. Here is one of the solitary trees that appeared to be accurately marked on that map… again at mid-day. D’oh!Solitary tree in Palouse4. When your photography plan fails you, try Instagram! ;) Here are a few that I took from my phone.Marmot photo bomb at Palouse FallsGiant modern wind mills in PalouseDave contemplating the Palouse? No, just me asking him to stand there.

  • Doreen Pendgracs - Such amazing photographs! Love the one with the marmot! And that first one … blew my mind! Keep on keepin’ on.ReplyCancel

  • Samantha - Stunning Photos! The first picture is incredible! :)ReplyCancel

  • Jessica (Barcelona Blonde) - Even though you didn’t get the photos you were hoping for, you still got some incredible shots! What a stunning place.ReplyCancel

    • traciehowe - Thanks, Jessica. I was happy with these few, but hoped to get more. I’m never satisfied! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Em - Great pics! The views look amazing :)ReplyCancel

  • Susan - This place looks amazing. I want to take a trip there the next time in the PNW, def not boring! I never knew of Palouse’s existence. Is there a cool trail that leads to it?ReplyCancel

    • traciehowe - Hi Susàn! A lot of people don’t know about it, even in WA. Palouse Falls is actually not super close to the rolling hills and farms of the Palouse region… at least according to that photographer’s map I linked to. So, the falls has a few trails which we didn’t get a chance to explore for very long. Apparently you can get down to the bottom somehow by following a trail to train tracks and scrambling your way down. We didn’t come across any other trails except those at Kamiak Butte. There were several great trails there (good for trail running too from what I saw), many of which ended up connecting at one point or another. I got a little confused about what trail we were on because of how they were marked and how they linked up. My suggestion is to just go explore the entire trail system there and you won’t be disappointed by the views!ReplyCancel

  • Calli Duncan - Your photos are amazing – I saw that first one on Facebook and immediately HAD to know where it was. I can’t believe it’s so close (As far as seeing dream destinations online and wanting to visit them Oregon is as close to BC as it tends to get). Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading :)ReplyCancel

  • Dave Cole - I’ve heard about this part of the state but had not seen too many images of it. Your photos are lovely, thanks for sharing them! I really like the Insta shot with the creature in the foreground – it looks slight confused :)ReplyCancel

  • Laura - breathtaking photos! that animal thing is so cute! what is it?ReplyCancel

  • Elena Nacheva - All the photos are gorgeous but the first one is simply amazing! I hope I visit it one day and see it myself!ReplyCancel

  • Hector Cortez - Wow, these are some superb shots!
    I’ll definitely add this to my “to-go” list.

    Safe travels.ReplyCancel

  • Bob R - Looks like a fabulous spot. If you’re not happy, you’ll just have to return. Doesn’t sound that bad to me. :)ReplyCancel

  • Karen Warren - That’s a pretty impressive rock formation – that first photograph looks pretty good to me.ReplyCancel

    • traciehowe - I just had something in mind for that shot and didn’t quite get what I wanted, but thank you! :)ReplyCancel

  • Milosz Zak - Incredible photos – I’ve no idea how you got all of that contrast and colour. Do you use some sort of software to augment it? Fotor or Illustrator CC perhaps? These are catalogue worthy. Catching such moment is a true art.ReplyCancel

    • traciehowe - Thanks, Milosz. Yes, like most other professional digital photographers, I use Lightroom (some use Aperture) and/or Photoshop, depending on how extensive the edit. Like if a pesky Marmot pops into my best shot and I want to edit him out! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Jon @ jonistravelling.com - Awesome photos, this place looks amazing!!ReplyCancel

  • Emily Luxton - Woah! You might have had trouble with the light – but some of these shots are simply amazing! Looks like such a beautiful place :)ReplyCancel

    • traciehowe - Thanks! I wish I didn’t have to rush the trip, but I’m happy with a few of my photos. :)ReplyCancel

  • Margherita Ragg - Those pics are incredible, and the place is out of this world. Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Your comments sound so disappointed, yet your photos came out wonderful! Don’t worry about getting ‘the right light’; you’re getting the right pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Dany - Hi Tracie,

    Wow you’re photography is amazing, I’m going to post this on my FB page, I’m impressed and you’ve inspired me to go.


    Danyelle Kelly

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