Roadtrippin’ the Palouse – A Wanderer’s Guide to the Rolling Hills of Eastern Washington

This was Days 16-20 of a fabulous Fall road trip a couple of years ago. This leg was Seattle to Ellensburg to Pullman, Washington — 289 miles. If you fly, Spokane is the closest airport.

Holiday Inn Express, Pullman, $121/night with a AAA discount + $20/night pet fee. Nice, recently-renovated hotel. Big room; lots of green space to walk the dog, and they don’t mind if you leave the dog in the room (they even give you a tag for the door that says Do Not Disturb/Dog Napping) (love that!). Located close to Washington State University, so be sure to book in advance on football game weekends. This is football country!

I’d wanted to visit The Palouse, famous for its photogenic landscapes, for years and finally made it part of my long roadtrip home (the move from California back to my home state, Missouri).  Most photographers visit in the spring when the rolling hills of eastern Washington are like green velvet, but I think Fall in The Palouse is absolutely gorgeous, in a whole other beautiful way. I was there towards the end of October, long after the wheat harvest, and I used Pullman as my headquarters and spent 4 days wandering aimlessly around The Palouse, which I highly recommend. If your time is more restricted there are lots of local photographers there who offer photo tours, but I really enjoy wandering.

Fair warning: I include a LOT of highway shots from behind the wheel. I do it to remember the journey, and hopefully share the thrill of discovery. You can discover the beautiful red barn when I do, resting peacefully just off the highway in a beautiful field, or perched precariously near the highway curve because it was there long before the highway interrupted.

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Day 15- Omaha to Sioux Falls

222 miles. Gas was $3.49/gallon. About 90 degrees and humid, but no rain until about 7:00 this evening, as I was pulling in to the Brimark Inn in Sioux Falls. $86/night with AAA discount and $10 pet fee. It’s a very pretty, recently-remodeled non-chain hotel just off I-29, with very nice, helpful staff. But the exit doors are LOUD, so make sure you ask for a room in the middle of the building.

Photo by Stephanie Roberts,

Takin’ the Slow Road…Travelled on the Loess Hills Scenic Byway yesterday and today. It’s a beautiful backroads country drive through pastoral fields and small towns. If you’re not in a hurry to get anywhere. In addition to the normal curves and tractor slow-downs, there is currently a lot of construction on some of the roads, and several places where you have to wait for a construction escort because there’s only one lane available (for both directions). It’s actually peaceful to surrender to the construction hostage situations if you recognize that it’s out of your control, and you’ll get there eventually. Another lesson — I was surprised when passing a road construction site when a man who was breaking up asphalt with a pick-axe on a hot, muggy Iowa day, looked up and gave me the biggest, nicest smile I’ve seen in a long time (so bummed I didn’t grab my camera in time to capture it). I immediately felt embarrassed about any complaining/whining I’ve done, ever in my life. I have so many wonderful things to be thankful for. I promise not to take them for granted anymore!

Photo by Stephanie Roberts,

The sweetest house in Honey Creek…(yes, that’s a propane tank painted like a watermelon!!!)…

A morning of cruising past rolling hills of corn and beans, small towns, and beautiful barns culminate in a gorgeous Lewis-and-Clark-type view from the Murray Hill Scenic Overlook, above Pisgah, Iowa…