Planning a Photo Trip to the Palouse

The peculiar and picturesque silt dunes which characterize the Palouse Prairie were formed during the ice age.  Blown in from the glacial outwash plains to the west and south, the Palouse hills consist of more or less random humps and hollows.

[map_bank map_id=”2″ map_width=”450″ map_width_type=”” map_height=”500″ map_height_type=”” map_zoom= “4” scrolling_wheel=”true” map_border=”” border_width=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_radius=”” show_title=”true”]


  • Search the internet for subjects and photos about the area
  • Use Google Maps and Google Earth to study the area.

I found the following scenarios to be of interest:

  1. Vast landscapes of the rolling hills under agriculture with shades of green, yellow, and brown.
  2. Old barns and houses.
  3. Old farm equipment.
  4. Palouse Falls
  5. Find a dark location for some star shots.


  • The Vast Landscape shots:

Steptoe Butte State Park will have the best views . Kamiak Butte may be another location to scout.  Be there at sunrise and sunset. This will be landscape photography using a long lens and polarizer.  Find a subject such as a single tree or group of trees, or a farm house.  Compose the scene without any sky in the frame.  Look for contrasts in colors and leading lines.  Wait for the right light.

A long lens creates compression in the scene.  Being at a low angle will create more compression thus stacking the hills in the scene.  Shooting at the top of the butte will minimize this effect and leave the image flat.  Try to find a lower location from which to shoot.

  • Mid Day Activities

When the light becomes harsh use the mid day hours to scout locations.  It is also a good time to shoot with black and white in mind.  One scene that I previsualized is a working tractor in a field stirring up dust.  If a particular scene is found, decide if it is worth coming back at the golden hours to get the right light for it.  Take notes and don’t get lost!  If traveling down a back road you may not be able to find it again.  (note: a gps will be a great benefit on this trip)

Google Earth and Google Map Views

Sunset Palouse, view from Steptoe Butte State Park

Kamiak Butte      A Google Earth view.

Kamiak Butte Park: Reaching an elevation of 3,641 feet (second highest point in Whitman County), the park offers visitors a panoramic view of the Palouse region and has over five miles of forested hiking trails.  The 3.5 mile Pine Ridge Trail is part of the National Trails System!   Keep your eyes open as the park plays host to over 150 bird, mammal and vegetation species.  Pack a lunch and spend the day hiking trails or utilizing the day use area!

From Pullman: Take State Highway 27 North 11 miles.  Turn left on Clear Creek Road for .5 mile.  Turn left on Fugate Road (Road No. 5100). Travel .5 mile to Kamiak Butte County Park Road (Rd. No. 6710) to the park entrance on the left.

Red Barn near Steptoe Butte

A Country Dirt Road near Oaksdale, WA

Cattle Shack near Steptoe Butte

John F Kelley Homestead 1872

Palouse, view from Scholz Rd, Colfax, WA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *