Jeff and I took a day trip down to Palouse Falls on Saturday. It is about an hour's drive from our home and Jeff, having lived in this area for all of his life (other than a 6 year detour in Oregon), had never been to them. The falls were formed by the ice age Glacial Lake Missoula.
About 12,000 years ago, the valleys of western Montana lay beneath a lake nearly 2,000 feet deep. Glacial Lake Missoula formed as the Cordilleran Ice Sheet dammed the Clark Fork River just as it entered Idaho. The rising water behind the glacial dam weakened it until water burst through in a catastrophic flood that raced across Idaho, Oregon, and Washington toward the Pacific Ocean. Thundering waves and chunks of ice tore away soils and mountainsides, deposited giant ripple marks, created the scablands of eastern Washington and carved the Columbia River Gorge. Over the course of centuries, Glacial Lake Missoula filled and emptied in repeated cycles, leaving its story embedded in the land.
- The ice dam was over 2000 feet tall.
- Glacial Lake Missoula was as big as Lakes Erie and Ontario combined.
- The flood waters ran with the force equal to 60 Amazon Rivers.
- Car-sized boulders embedded in ice floated some 500 miles; they can still be seen today!
We stopped on the way to pick up some of the $4.99 footlong sandwiches from Subway and had a picnic right on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the falls. It was a really cold day but the sun was out and there were lots of people there hiking down to the top of the falls. We even made a friend (a groundhog). It was a beautiful way to spend part of the day. I hope you enjoy the pictures.