Tag Archives: Palouse

Hells Canyon Loop: Day 1 of 3

Steptoe Butte provides a 360-degree view of the Palouse of Southeast Washington and the surrounding wheat fields and distant mountains.

Steptoe Butte, Southeast Washington: 11:40 AM

Our first stop on our three-day loop tour of Northeast Oregon and North Central Idaho was a visit to Steptoe Butte (N 47, 01.946; W 117, 17.810) in southeast Washington, which rises to an elevation of 3,563 feet, or almost 1,000 feet above the surrounding countryside.

Steptoe Butte

Steptoe Butte, Steptoe Butte State Park

Hells Canyon Loop: Overview

Driving a loop tour in, through, and skirting the Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area is an exercise in ups and downs accompanied by incredibly beautiful scenery offering loads of photo ops plus museum visits, history, culture, agriculture, forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and state and national scenic byways.

The tour can start and end from any of the following cities and towns: Clarkston, Colfax, Pullman or Spokane, Washington; Enterprise or Joseph, Oregon; Cambridge, Council, Grangeville, Lewiston or McCall, Idaho.

My trip log from a recent three-day tour of the loop showed a total of 730 miles driven with 15-1/2 hours behind the wheel at an average drive-time speed of 44.9 miles per hour. The entire route was over well-maintained two-lane, rural highways free of any construction delays.

The trip started and ended in Spokane, Washington with only one section backtracked. That section is the 106 miles between Spokane and Lewiston.

You can avoid the backtrack by including Moscow and Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho within the tour. The addition of these two cities adds only about 40 miles and increases the drive time only by about 50 minutes. Added attractions include the University of Idaho at Moscow, and scenic Lake Coeur d’ Alene.

See this Google map for the route as driven. And here’s the Google map showing the inclusion of Moscow and Coeur d’Alene to avoid the backtrack.