About the Area


The Palouse is a distinct geographic region of the northwestern United States, encompassing southeastern Washington and parts of north central Idaho. It is a serene and pastoral wonder of Washington State. Characterized by gentle rolling hills covered with wheat fields, the hills were formed over tens of thousands of years from windblown dust and silt, called "loess", from dry regions to the southwest. Seen from the summit of 3,612 foot high Steptoe Butte, they look like giant sand dunes because they were formed in much the same way. In the spring they are lush shades of green when the wheat and barley are young, and in the summer they are dry shades of brown when the crops are ready for harvest. The Palouse hills are not only a landscape unique in the world, but they are beautiful to behold.

The Palouse is the most productive wheat growing area in the United States. Lentils, barley, and garbanzo beans are also major crops, and canola fields can occasionally be found. The Palouse is also a great place to grow grapes, and vineyards are starting to appear, especially in the Walla Walla area. The Palouse is home to two land-grant universities: Washington State University in Pullman and the University of Idaho in Moscow. Just eight miles apart, both schools opened in the early 1890s.