Northeastern Washington

The Palouse
Trip Day Twenty: July 1, 2000
Basalt Scablands

Much of Eastern Washington is covered by basalt flows. These flows occured from about 17 million years ago to around 5 million years ago.

Here are some examples of the basalt bedrock where the sand and silt deposits have been erroded away. Although these pictures show ponds in many of the pockets, this is by no means the rule. Most of these scablands are very arid seemingly worthless.

The traveler traverses miles and miles of these scablands, then all at once the rolling hills will pop up and there will be farms in the region.

You can drive miles and miles in this country without seeing any evidence of human occupancy. The roads usually are several feet above the surrounding countryside, and they usually have no shoulders or and few guard rails. I guess if you travel in this area, you just make sure you won't have a flat tire or other car trouble.

Cars and trucks on the road are few and far between after you get away from the busy US-2 between Spokan and Grand Coulee Dam. We saw one car upside down near the edge of one of a marsh in the scablands in the busy area on US-2. The evidently missed a curve on the narrow road, and there was no shoulder to help with error correction.

Page last updated August 9, 2000.