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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Palouse Falls Canoe Paddle

CANOEING TRIP NOTES

Access: Put-in located between Washtucna and Starbuck near confluence of Palouse and Snake Rivers. Take State Highway 261 to Lyons Ferry State Park day-use area. Head north on gravel road at bend in highway just north of main entrance to day-use, boat launching and camping area. Gravel road leads short way to primitive launch for small boats.

Attractions: Mix of flatwater and running water leads into one of region’s most spectacular canoeable gorges. Basalt cliffs gradually close in on Palouse River until paddlers reach stunning amphitheater of Palouse Falls. Water plunges off rimrock and cascades 198 feet into pool where careful canoeists can frolic in spray. Route goes from Lyons Ferry State Park to Palouse Falls State Park.

Comments: First 3 miles up Palouse River are slackwater suitable for novice paddlers and powerboats. Most paddlers with some experience can handle current that gradually builds in transition zone. Exact end of slackwater depends on flow of Palouse and pool level of Snake River behind Lower Monumental Dam.

Route passes Marmes (pronounced MAR-mus) rock shelter, an archeological site discovered in 1962. In 1968, Washington State University scientists unearthed an ancient skeleton dating back 10,000 years - oldest human remains discovered at time in Western Hemisphere. Find came one year before site to be flooded by Lower Monumental Dam. Dike was built as last-ditch effort to preserve dig site, but water seeped in. Cave now mostly flooded.

“Marmes” is name of ranch family that owned land at shelter site. Marmes pond occasionally stocked with trout. Slackwater offers fishing for bass, crappies, catfish.

Ideal flows for doing entire trip roughly 510-550 cubic feet per second measured upstream at Hooper. Flow information available from U.S. Geological Survey water resources office in Spokane, 353-2633. Lower flows leave rocks in rapids virtually impossible to avoid. Higher flows make upstream paddling more difficult and leave less room along shore to line canoes around rapids.

Some lining required regardless of flows. Bring long lines for bow and stern. Beware of poison ivy, rattlesnakes along shorelines.

Hundred yards or so of river must be lined to reach pool below fall. Once there, canoeists can paddle into pool. Beware, however, that falls create powerful currents, some of which suck into the falls. Keep safe distance. Brush with the falls could be fatal.

State park rules prohibit firearms, random camping, campfires. Designated campgrounds available at entrances to both state parks.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: CHECK IT OUT: Distance: 13 miles round trip Difficulty: difficult Paddling time: 5-8 hours Season: Late Feb. through May and other rainy periods Maps: USGS Palouse Falls, Starbuck West Info: Lyons Ferry State Park, (509) 646-3252

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest

This sidebar appeared with the story: CHECK IT OUT: Distance: 13 miles round trip Difficulty: difficult Paddling time: 5-8 hours Season: Late Feb. through May and other rainy periods Maps: USGS Palouse Falls, Starbuck West Info: Lyons Ferry State Park, (509) 646-3252

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Routes: Classic Trips in the Inland Northwest

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