Eastern Washington is a part of the US state of Washington east of the Cascade Range. The Eastern Washington region consists of the city of Spokane, the tri-cities, the Colombia River, and the Grand Coulee dam. Due to the rain shadow created by the Cascade Mountains here, Eastern Washington receives scanty rainfall, unlike the west. The eastern Washington region of the United States is home to several renowned museums and historical sites. Its stone rose interpretive center, which is near the town of Republic allows visitors to dig for fossils with hammers and chisels. Apart from the museums and the famous historical sites, Eastern Washington is home to numerous state and national parks such as the Lake Chelan State Park or 10000-acre riverside park located near Spokane.
This article covers several other notable things that one shouldn’t miss when in Eastern Washington:
The Snohomish County Centennial Trail
The Snohomish County Centennial Trail entices countless visitors, giving them a delightful reminder of the old-time river and the railroad settlements in the preserved storefronts and homes in Snohomish and Arlington. The trail crosses farms and pastures and forested watersheds and visitors cross creeks and rivers draining in the Cascade Mountains.
The junction of the centennial is marked by a shining arch with Whitehorse trail which leads to Darrington. The centennial trail continues across remote farms and forest lands to the Nakashima barn trailhead, which is reminiscent of the success and difficulties of a Japanese American family.
Eastern Washington Desert
Washington’s diverse climate is one wonderful thing about the place and is to die for. Thanks to the Cascades for these variations in the climate, which makes it a pure beauty. The Eastern Washington State Desert is perhaps an incredible feature of this place, where you will see beautiful Junipers and gorgeous Sage Brush. The muted red tones of the mountain Mahogany is a sight to behold. You will witness the true natural beauty here, which makes this desert full of life.
The Cascades create the rainshadow effect capturing moisture on the Seattle side of the slopes while leaving Eastern Washington with large areas of semi-arid and fully arid deserts. The Yakima Valley is considered to be a semi-arid region with 8 inches of rainfall, making it a desert area that is quite dry in nature.
The strong Southwest winds batter and form the sand dunes amidst the junipers here, giving it the name of Juniper Dunes Wilderness area where the temperature easily goes above 100 degrees F in summers and it snows in the winters. The winters here can get really cold. Despite the temperature extremes, animals like porcupines, weasels, kangaroo rats, etc. are a common sight.
Spokane, the second-largest city in the state is in this dry desert and is popular for countless things, including the wineries, food, and of course the shopping. Spokane is known to host the world’s largest 3 on 3 basketball tournament and is home to at least 20 wineries with the barrister winery being the most popular. Besides this, it also houses 40 arts organizations representing all areas of performing arts, literary, visual, and musical arts.
Palouse Falls State Park
All Eastern Washington visitors and ice age flood fans should definitely visit the Palouse Falls State Park. The Palouse falls are among the last active waterfalls on the ice age floods path that was carved 13000 years ago and this wondrous fall was named Washington’s state waterfall in 2014. The park gives you three distinctive views of the fall. The lower viewpoint provides a direct view, the second view at the end of the paved path tells the story of the secluded canyon. The third viewpoint provides the highest and panoramic views of the waterfall. A visit to the Palouse falls state park is undoubtedly a rich and recreational experience for visitors.
Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge
Fans of wildlife have a lot to experience in the Eastern Washington region. The Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge is located in northeast Washington and is the only mountainous mixed conifer forest refuge in the US. The wildlife lovers must know that this national wildlife refuge is home to 200 species of birds, 58 mammals, 8 reptiles, and 6 amphibian species. It is a habitat for the threatened Canada lynx and other forest carnivores. During winters, this refuge experiences migration of deer from north, south, and east to the west side of the refuge where the snow is not that deep.
Visiting the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge is not just a treat for the wildlife lovers, but for every travel enthusiast.
Potholes State Park
Potholes are the defining geological features near this Eastern Washington Washington park. A series of Ice Age flood-carved depressions in the earth, amalgamated with the dynamics of the O’Sullivan Dam, created hundreds of tiny islands surrounded by “pothole” lakes. The Potholes State Park lies on the other side of the O’Sullivan reservoir where the visitors are welcomed with activities like boating, fishing, and swimming. Fishing at potholes is encouraged all year long with yellow perch, crappie, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and walleye being the major attractions. But if you would rather want to be in the waters on a hot Eastern Washington day, the park welcomes you with all kinds of water sports such as paddle boarding, water-skiing, kayaking, and so on.
The park experiences a year-round migration of birds such as the Sandhill cranes and waterfowl that come through in late February, Raptors in April, and May is marked by the arrival of lark sparrow, sage thrashers, and long-eared owls. And, in August when the water levels drop, the mudflat beacon, sandpipers, stilts, plovers, and curlews can be seen. Thus, it is a treat for bird lovers. Hence, this park is the best way to learn about natural history as well as geology without missing out on the fun.
Woodward Canyon is one of the most prestigious Washington wineries. Founded in 1981, the Woodward Canyon is among the state’s historic wineries. This can be a wonderful experience for wine enthusiasts as there are several vintage wines, including the great Chardonnays from the 1990s as well as a few artistic series such as the Cabernet Sauvignons from the 2000s. Since the beginning, this winery has produced the finest, age-worthy premium, and award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlot as well as Chardonnays.
The winery also offers daily tasting wines by the glass picnic areas and outdoor seating along with gardens to stroll through. So if you are visiting Eastern Washington and haven’t visited the Woodward Canyon then you have probably missed one of the finest and enriching winery experiences. If you are a wine lover, you are undoubtedly in for a treat at this place. Do you know the 2015 old vines, Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced here from great vineyards in Colombia and Walla valley.
Northwest Museum Of Arts and Culture
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is located in Spokane, Washington, and is associated with the Smithsonian Institution. The Northwest Museum of Art and Culture (MAC) is the largest cultural organization in the inland northwest, which consists of 5 underground galleries, stores, cafes, and education center. The MAC campus also comprises of the historic 1898 Campbell house, archives, and auditorium and an outdoor amphitheatre. Regional history, visual arts, and American Indian are the three distinct and major disciplines that the museum exhibits and its programs focus on. In conclusion, the museum’s art collection currently counts over 2000 pieces which include works by Northwestern artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The MAC compiles the works of these artists which are contemporary and significant, particularly to Eastern Washington and the inland northwest.
The Soaplake, a small town between Seattle and Spokane was visited by the Native American tribes before the settlers. The waters here are rich in nutrients and minerals and are good for detoxification. The Soaplake is believed to have healing properties. So if you are traveling to Eastern Washington, visiting the Soaplake can be a great rejuvenating experience. Thousands of visitors come here for a rejuvenating spa experience on the shores of the lake. The mud spa treatment is one of the most popular and the most relaxing experience that one must take at the Soaplake.
The Yakima Valley has been the home to some of the oldest vineyards of the state with every major winemaker in Washington securing grapes from this valley. Standing at 13000 mts above sea level, the red Willow vineyard, near Wapato stands at the highest point in the Yakima Valley. The Colombia winery gets most of its supply from the Yakima Valley. Chardonnay is one of the most popular plantings here where most of the winemakers prefer a single clonal variety.
Wine lovers will find this place really delightful as a vast array of vineyards can be found here, which yield the finest wines. Apart from grapes, several other fruits are grown in this valley such as apples, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, and pears
Eastern Washington is thus home to a large number of wineries, shopping centers, and is culturally progressed not to mention the wildlife that it is home to and the climate it has, that juxtaposes the climate of the west, portraying nature at its best.
So if you are a nature lover, there are endless things to do in Eastern Washington!
Author’s Bio : John Gentry is a lifelong adventure travel enthusiast and international manager, Philanthropist, and solder. Spent 2011-2015 developing an international team in HsinChu, Taiwan. He has had some great experiences, and successes traveling around the world documenting his travels with his family via ExploreTraveler.com.