The Palouse region connects communities in three states—Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Known for its rich history, agricultural bounty, and amazing scenery, this region is a delightful place to spend time and connect with the finer things in life. But there’s so much more to do than gaze at the greenery. This region pulses with energy. Its wineries produce new vintages, while its artisans are busy expressing their creativity. The region is also home to two major universities that bring energy to the Palouse. The arts, sports, and culture are celebrated with gusto at the University of Idaho and Washington State University.

Geography & History

Geography & History
Geography & History

The rolling hills and verdant valleys are the defining feature of the Palouse region, along with the river that gave the region its name. The river flows for 167 miles through Idaho and Washington through a deep canyon carved out during the Ice Age. A major source for water, the river is a tributary of the whitewater rafting hotspot called Snake River, itself a tributary of the Columbia River. The abundant water and green valleys were especially attractive to the pioneers who followed the Oregon Trail west. They began to settle in the valleys, planting crops that would eventually go to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to people around the world. By the 19th century, the Palouse experienced a boom—which made it the ideal region for land grant colleges, specially endowed colleges created by federal mandate. Washington State, affectionately called Wazzu, welcomed its first students in 1890, making is Washington’s first land grant university. Its counterpart in Idaho, just eight miles away, debuted a year earlier in 1889.

Palouse Falls National Park & Palouse Scenic Byway

Palouse Falls National Park & Palouse Scenic Byway
Palouse Falls National Park & Palouse Scenic Byway

Both pioneers and college students have been enchanted by the scenery of the Palouse. The region offers abundant chances to get outside and enjoy the wonders of nature. Whether you’re a high-energy athlete or a casual stroller, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the outdoors in the Palouse. One of the best places to experience this is Palouse Falls National Park. Its 105 acres offer access to the dramatic Palouse Falls, that tumble 200 feet into the river. Beyond the falls, the park is home to campsites and walking trails, as well is fishing and birdwatching. For those who want to visit more than one site, they should hop aboard the Palouse Scenic Byway, which winds through 218 miles of rolling hills and green valleys.

Towns & Communities

Walla Walla
Towns & Communities

The small towns of the Palouse region share a lot of common—all are easy to reach from Spokane. You’ll find boutiques, galleries, golf courses, wineries and other places to enjoy throughout the region. But each place has its distinctive characteristics and style. Pullman is the home of Washington State University to go along with a historic downtown and wineries. Walla Walla has a rich history and has worked to preserve its pioneer sites. It’s also grown into a culinary destination, were the locally grown harvest is crafted into tasty food and Washington-made wine. There’s also a town called Palouse, a quick drive from Colfax, the first town settled in the area. Across the border, Moscow, Idaho also is an integral part of the Palouse region.

Palouse Hotels & Lodging

The lodging scene in the Palouse region is nothing short of diverse. If you’re traveling on a tight budget, you’ll find motels and campsites that provide a good night’s stay without breaking the bank. If you’re more concerned with style than the bottom line, the region’s resorts will be happy to extend hospitality. In downtown Walla Walla, the Marcus Whitman Hotel continues to stand proud. The oldest and tallest of the Walla Walla hotels, the Whitman is a smart choice for an elegant stay. You’ll also find an abundance of off-the-beaten-path options, including distinctive bed-and-breakfast inns and vineyard lodging in and around the Palouse. 

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