For years, the Palouse, encompassing Southeastern, Washington, North Central Idaho and extending into Oregon, has been on the top of Curt’s photography bucket list. While I’m usually a team player and always up for an adventure, the thought of three planes and heading off to the middle of nowhere somehow didn’t excite me. But, as usual, as all good wives do, I acquiesced. So off we flew to Spokane, Washington. There we rented a car and drove about 75 minutes south into the Palouse. I’m here to report that I wasn’t wrong about it being in the middle of nowhere. The closest town to the Palouse is Colfax and the finest restaurant in town is Subway…need I say more? We are staying about 20 minutes away at a very nice and new Residence Inn in the booming metropolis of Pullman, home to Washington State University. Actually, we did drive through the campus several times and it is beautiful. Pullman is your typical college town, more importantly…it has some decent food choices!
Why visit the Palouse
Now the Palouse….well, that’s a different story. It’s absolutely picture perfect. It’s 4,000 square miles filled with breathtakingly beautiful rolling hills of various colors as far as the eye can see. The fields are comprised of wheat, barley and lentils. The yellow fields are canola flowers. The Palouse takes on beautiful golden colors as harvest time approaches in August. It’s the closest thing to Tuscany you can find in the good ol’ USA. The prime time for photography is from late May to mid June when the fields are covered with a patchwork of different colors. Starting to get why we are here right now! The best vantage point to photograph from is Steptoe Butte. Steptoe Butte is actually a state park. It has one road that winds around and around as to go higher and higher. The road is halfway decent but there are no guardrails and the drive can be intimidating. Trust me, you will know you are in the right place by the hoards of photographers lining the rim during sunrise and sunset. We are actually photographing with Chip Phillips, a local professional photographer. The beauty of shooting with Chip is that he knows the right places and right times to capture the best photographs. Let me warn you, those times are sunrise and sunset. Sunset is a no brainer, but sunrise, that’s another story. We leave the hotel each morning at 3:30 am. As you can imagine, naps are a very important activity each day!
Steptoe Butte is the best place to photograph the Palouse from.
Why not to visit the Palouse
When I said that the Palouse is as close to Tuscany you can get in the USA, I meant landscape only. Don’t plan on taking your significant other here for a romantic Tuscan retreat! You will be very disappointed. There are no resorts or wineries! The Palouse is strictly for photography and those who enjoy looking at breathtaking landscapes. But, if photography and enjoying amazingly gorgeous landscape is your thing, you will not be disappointed.