Upon exiting your vehicle, you’ll immediately be greeted by the roar of the Palouse River dropping 186 feet into a plunge pool beneath steep-shelved cliff walls. The First Peoples of the Palouse called these falls Aputaput, meaning “falling water.” They tell of how the falls was created by four giant brothers pursuing a mythological creature called the Big Beaver. The river once flowed smoothly into the Snake River, the story goes, until the Big Beaver was pursued and speared five times. Wounded, he gouged out canyon walls and forced the river to change course to plummet over a cliff. Big Beaver’s claw marks can still be seen in the canyon walls—the basalt columns. And the river indeed changed course. It once flowed through the Washtucna Coulee until the Ice Age floods forced its relocation to where you are now standing.
© 2013 Rich Landers/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.