Sandhill Cranes

Steptoe Butte

On our recent exploratory trip around Central Washington, Liddy and I visited Palouse Falls, Starbuck and Steptoe Butte. Many members of our photo club have been to Steptoe Butte many times, but it was our first visit.

The weather was great. To the west and south you could see forever. To the north and east however, the view was obscured by smoke and haze from forest fires still burning in British Columbia and Northern Washington.

Dave & Liddy
This is a great place to come to see the rolling Palouse. If you time the season and the weather just right, you can get some fantastic landscapes from here. I know because I have seen many.

On this trip, we came away with a selfie.

Ok. If north and east was a smoke house, then where to go after Steptoe Butte?

Potholes and Columbia NWR

Potholes, and the Columbia NWR were on our list and on the way home. West it was then. To Potholes State Park for the night. In the morning, a visit to Columbia NWR before driving home.

Potholes State Park has a large number of campsites. Because it was midweek, and late September, we had our pick. I thought the price of $25 per night was a bit rich, but it does provide a safe place to park.

Columbia NWR is a fascinating place. A mix of ponds and marshes separated by volcanic plates. Definitely a place we will come back to and explore more in the future.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes
A flock of Sandhill Cranes fly overhead.

Potholes is only 20 miles or so, north of Othello. Every year, in late March, Othello hosts their Sandhill Crane Festival. This is at the height of the bird migration north. The area is a favorite spot where the Cranes rest before continuing on up into Canada.

I had purposely timed this trip for late September hoping that we might catch some of them on their return journey. Sure enough, as we were starting west away from the Columbia NWR, we came across several flocks of these large birds, foraging in the fields beside the road.

Bonus – because it was the fall, we avoided the crowds who come for the festival in the spring time. – A great finish to a fun trip.