From Palouse’s trademark rolling emerald hills to the quiet campgrounds and deep river valleys of the modest Blue Mountains, southeast Washington has a lot to offer when it comes to a lively outdoor scene. Read on to discover five thrilling ways to explore the outdoors in and around Palouse, Pullman and Clarkston.
1. Boat Hells Canyon
Clarkston is the gateway to Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, where visitors can marvel at the Grand Canyon’s biggest rival — Hell’s Canyon. North America’s deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon is known for its water activities and hiking and camping opportunities. Dive right in with a hair-blowing jet-boat ride through the canyon or fish for steelhead trout or sturgeon in the Snake River’s fertile waters. Find river-rafting and jet-boating outfitters in Washington >>
On dry land, the pastoral roads of Palouse and paved riverside paths of Clarkston are a cyclist’s dream. The 14-mile North Fork of Asotin Creek Trail is popular among the mountain bikers, while Pullman’s annual Tour de Lentil draws hundreds of road riders annually.
3. Hike the Blue Mountains
South of the Snake River, the unassuming Blue Mountains top out at 6,000 feet, inviting hikers and equestrians to roam their miles of lesser-known wilderness trails. And through the deep canyons of this forested range flow some of the finest fly-fishing creeks in the state. View complete listings for hiking, biking and backpacking in Washington >>
When snowfall blankets the Blue Mountains, wax up your cross-county skis. Fields Spring State Park boasts 5 miles of tracked ski runs and a cozy, backcountry warming hut near 4,500-foot Puffer Butte. Local cross-country skiers and snowshoers adore the park’s trails and views of the Blue Mountains’ rounded hills. Learn more about Washington ski resorts >>
Othello’s annual Sandhill Crane Festival is another feather in the cap of Washington’s Southeast region. Held each March, the event celebrates the arrival of up to 750,000 migrating sandhill cranes, which roost in the sprawling wetlands of the nearby Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. Find more wildlife refuges in Washington >>
— Craig Romano