Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A short drive from Soap Lake

Yesterday we headed out to explore a few back roads. We took State Route 28 east to Pinto Ridge Road to see the waterfall in Summer Falls State Park. You have to really watch closely once you're on Pinto Ridge Rd., as there are no signs indicating any turns into the park. The only sign is set back about 100 feet on the gravel road leading into the park. However, that road will lead you to a beautiful spot for an afternoon picnic! Summer Falls is created by water coming from Banks Lakes and falls 165 feet over the basalt cliff into Billy Clapp Lake. The state park itself consists of a few picnic tables and a rest room and the only sounds you'll hear are birds chirping and the sound of the waterfall itself. There are no hiking trails, no interpretive centers, just sun and grass and water to enjoy in peace.

From Summer Falls we headed north on Pinto Ridge into Coulee City, as Denny thought there was a casino there. It turns out the casino is in Grand Coulee, so we simply turned south on Rt. 17 and stopped at Dry Falls State Park. Dry Falls State Park consists of the interpretive center and a magnificent view of the huge coulee. According to the information provided at the park, Dry Falls was created thousands of years ago when a glacial lake overflowed its ice dam and the draining waters flooded the area. This occurred over and over, gradually eroding the canyon and creating the Dry Falls area. On the picture I've provided you'll see a tiny speck in the water near the bottom of the frame; that's a man fishing in a little double-kayak boat. I've never seen a fishing boat like that before.

Leaving Dry Falls State Park we turned south again and disovered Sun Lakes State Park on our left. Unlike tiny Summer Falls and Dry Falls, this is a 3,710 acre state park that has a nine-hole golf course, a campground, a riding stable, beaches and more. They are instituting a $5 "parking fee" for simply being in the park, but we didn't drive far enough into the park to reach a ranger station. We stopped at the pro shop to check out the golf fees and the young lady there was very knowledgeable about the Coulee City area and volunteered a lot of information about things to do and see while we are here. The people of Washington are very friendly!

Driving back to Soap Lake on Rt. 17 there are a lot of basalt cliffs on either side of the roadway while Lake Lenore runs the length of the roadway on our right. It's a very pretty drive and would be very striking at sunrise or sunset.

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