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Backpacker Magazine – October 2009

Natural Wonders: Freaky Bats, Dry Falls, Winter Witch Hazel

Washington, Arkansas, and Georgia are host to these three life-list phenomena treks.

by: Jayme Otto

Washington's Dry Falls (Chuck Haney)
Washington's Dry Falls (Chuck Haney)

WASHINGTON'S DRY FALLS
View remnants of the largest waterfall on earth.

The Wonder
At 3.5 miles wide and 400 feet tall, Dry Falls was once the greatest waterfall in the world. Niagara–one mile wide and 165 feet tall–is only a quarter of that size. The falls were powered by Ice Age floods 15,000 years ago; a massive glacial dam collapsed and sent a 3,000-square-mile lake, once covering northwest Montana, hurtling toward the Pacific. Water rushed at 65 miles per hour over the crescent-shaped precipice for several thousand years. Today, a towering basalt plateau remains–and an oasis of desert lakes.

The Way
Hop on the Umatilla Rock Trail in Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park two hours east of Spokane. This 2.6-mile path climbs 300 feet to the top of Dry Falls and loops around a tall rock outcropping, named after the native Umatilla. The trail blends into the shrubby, craggy landscape, making it hard to follow in places. At the top, you'll stand 600 feet above what was once a plunge pool where swirling currents carved a natural lake. parks.wa.gov




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READERS COMMENTS

ken
Mar 31, 2011

It is two hours west of Spokane, not east.

Lostfalls
Nov 05, 2009

This is a truly amazing place to see - and while you're there stop by the state-of-art interpretive center to see a recreation of what the falls once looked like.

PS - There is alot more hiking to that area than the one trail mentioned - just keep an eye out for rattle snakes in the summer.

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